by Juniper Lovato (general conference chair) and Laurent Hébert-Dufresne (conference co-organizer), Vermont Complex Systems Center, University of Vermont

All Alife 2020 illustrations by Rob Babboni

A guide to online scientific conferences — creating a virtual world

It was April of 2020 and in light of COVID-19 we were faced with a difficult decision. Do we go full steam ahead organizing our large international conference (ALife 2020) that we had been planning for the last two years in beautiful Montréal, Québec? Do we move the conference online? Do we cancel it altogether? These decisions are happening all over the world as event organizers weigh the costs and benefits of these three options.

If we hosted an in-person conference, we…


I have iterated on the structure of the ALife 2020 virtual conference a hundred times and I am still uncertain if I am going to scrap this structure after a late-night panic attack but here is where I am so far. I will preface that I think this is going to be really cool and work really well, but I am always a bit nervous and err on the side of over preparation when I am doing something new when organizing a program. I think the most challenging bits have been the following:

Limited Access: As much as I would…


Format for the virtual conference: The ALife 2020 Conference will be a fully virtual experience this year. We see this as an opportunity to explore and experiment with virtual environments and really test the boundaries of an online conference. We are excited for the challenge and we hope that you and the rest of the community will join us in this virtual exploration. We are working very hard to make sure we replicate as best as possible the social experience and networking of a face-to-face conference, we are organizing MANY virtual social activities and networking events for you to participate…


Image Credit: From a Twitter post by @AcademicsSay

Some of you may be asking what is a Zoom Meeting and how the heck do I use it? Don’t be afraid we will go through this process slowly and from the very beginning.

So what is it? Zoom is a remote communication tool where you can talk (or broadcast) to a single person or a group of people using audio and/or video. I like Zoom because it is free, the connection is very stable, it is really easy to use, and scheduling meetings with the Zoom platform is straightforward. Note: with the free version of Zoom your call will…


Post #1: Moving ALife Montreal to ALife Montvirtual

The decision to transition our face-to-face conference, ALife 2020, into an online conference (that my team has been working on for over a year) was, to be honest, a heartbreaking decision. Hundreds of painstaking hours and tens of thousands of dollars have already gone into planning this event. Selfishly, I was really looking forward to seeing the fruits of our labor.

However, in light of the very serious concern we have for the safety of this large international audience, I wholeheartedly believe that our decision to pivot the conference into an online…

Juniper Lovato

The brewer of brainstorms. Data ethics nerd by night, complexity science evangelist by day. University of Vermont, Vermont Complex Systems Center.

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