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Friday, May 27th, 2005, 9:18 am

Travelling and Status

Warning: this is a rant

I have become absolutely fed up with travel. Travelling seems rather analogous to brocoli. Even though it offers benefits, it is fairly hard to digest. Having come back from Oxford 2 days ago, I asked myself:

  • Did I enjoy my time there? Definitely not.
  • Was I under the impression that this research meeting would be different? Maybe fun even? Definitely yes; I was hoping, as always.

Should I have any guilt? Is it a bloat of ego? I believe not. When one speaks, then attendance clearly becomes necessary. If the purpose of presence is merely to fill a chair, why not stay home and support more meaningful projects? I have come to realise that travelling is nothing beyond an opportunity to brag; Yes, it is all about social status. It prevents me from doing what I love doing and what I think touches more people — programming, experiments, technical support and the like.

I was about to register for a conference in Colorado last night (IPMI 2005). After looking at the cost (nearing $2000 including the flights) and considering how unnecessary this would be, I couldn’t help but change my mind. I am co-author of a paper to be presented, but not first author. In other words, my presence is pointless.

People say that conferences are a good venue to meet people and “show your face”. This notion stems from older day, when paper were the primary means by which to disseminate research work. The Internet allows us to interact with people and actively work rather than just ‘absorb’ information or try to stay awake in far-away lecture theatres.

I expressed similar sentiments back in January. To many, travelling around the world is about new places to cross out and off the map. What is it that drives sp many to become the next Christopher Columbus? Inarguably, there is nothing to be discovered. An Internet search will reveal stories and photos from each and every part of the world. Perhaps travel has become a norm, which is simply hard to dismiss. I have come to the very same conclusion many times before:

“There is no place like home”

Small home

One Response to “Travelling and Status”

  1. Harvey Tobkes Says:

    I enjoyed your anti-travel article and you make some valid points. But, but , but — there are arguments on the other side of the issue which can be just as strong..
    Furthermore, few highly successful people arrive at the top without a helpful push from an “angel: sponsor. It is often serendipity as to how you meet that angel and being seen and heard at conferences is a wonderful venue for doing just that. But you know what’s best for you — just offering you my opinion.

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