The materials from our 2020 conference, which was moved online after the pandemic forced us to cancel the Sheffield event, have now been taken down. This was always the plan: the exec wanted members to be able to access materials at their own pace, but we also wanted to preserve some of the ephemerality of an in-person meeting. Contributors, too, wanted to feel confident sharing work in progress.
During the two weeks the conference was online, there were 894 visits to the site, peaking on April 17th - the day we hosted our online AGM and live keynote from Martin Willis. Video presentations (not including Martin's) were viewed a total of 319 times during this period. These numbers give only a vague sense of how many people were actually using the site, but at the very least they suggest that a healthy number of the c.110 prospective delegates to Sheffield visited at least fleetingly - and that some of the wider membership, who were not planning to travel to Sheffield, have also taken advantage. We hope that the papers, discussions, and live events - poor substitutes for the real event - were nonetheless useful and stimulating.
Our thanks are due to the thirty-six delegates who prepared and sent in presentations against a background of global turmoil; to Martin Willis for delivering a graceful keynote under pressure; to the University of Liverpool for hosting our Teams discussions; and, of course, to the organising team at Sheffield, led by Katherine Ebury and Helena Ifill. The programme of the conference-which-never-was is here, and the programme of our online offerings can be read here.
Delegates who did not send presentations in - please hold on to your abstracts! The BSLS is planning future ways of giving you a platform for your research, possibly this winter. The BSLS remains committed to its annual meeting, and the 2021 gathering at Edinburgh Napier is currently being planned. But we have also been delighted by the uptake of the digital conference, and are thinking about ways for our future events to incorporate more online elements.
Over the next few months, I will be assembling ideas about what the society could offer to members via its site and its vimeo channel, thinking both about enhancing our research events and adding separate content. Anyone who wants to contribute to this thought process is encouraged to contact me!