The following letter addresses the decision to pivot to a virtual conference: further updates are forthcoming as we work through the challenges and opportunities of our new format.
Dear members of the Electronic Literature Organization Community,
In this difficult time, we hope that you and your loved ones are well. We’re writing to update you about how COVID-19 is affecting our plan for this year’s conference.
The ELOrlando leadership team has found ourselves, like many conferences, faced with rethinking our plans. We were thrilled to be hosting you here in Orlando this July, but in light of COVID-19 we have already received numerous cancellations and concerns from members of the community such as yourselves asking if the conference will be held.
Given the public health concerns and travel restrictions imposed by many universities, we are moving to a fully virtual event for this year. There are various models for this type of conference, but given our highly international community, our approach will combine synchronous and asynchronous events, with an emphasis on openness and access. What this means is:
- Plenaries: Keynotes and special events will still be held synchronously, as well as archived for subsequent viewing. Questions will be moderated, and participants will be encouraged to share their thoughts in the hashtag.
- Conference Presentations: All other conference presenters will be asked to record their presentations in advance and submit them through the same conference interface, to be hosted in UCF’s institutional repository, and then hold conversation and/or promote their talks in the conference hashtag: #ELOrlando.
- Conference Proceedings: As conference proceedings have already been submitted as full papers, no video is required: however, authors are welcome to submit a video talk to accompany their paper submission.
- Exhibits and Performances: We will work with exhibitors and performers on the best way to share your work. This might include directly hosting your piece for access by the public, or including documentation via video.
While this change was unexpected, and we regret the loss of both the opportunity to connect with you here in Orlando and to share your work through public events with our community, we hope to view this as an opportunity to innovate. Given that, there is a new call for innovative sessions open now to both current participants and those interested in joining the virtual event. We are particularly interested in experimental sessions for collaboration, sharing, and socializing. If you would like to submit, please view the new call (copied below) and submit by May 1st.
One benefit to this model is that it makes the entire conference open access and alleviates some of the exclusionary aspects of academic conferences. Given this opportunity for inclusivity, and the economic challenges facing all of us and our institutions in this time of crisis, we are reducing the registration fee for the conference. We ask that you pay your ELO membership (https://eliterature.org/membership/) by May 15th plus an additional $50 registration fee to be included in the conference program, and if you have the funds available, please consider donating to support the community-building, archival, and critical work of the organization. Our conference is our biggest event each year for supporting the organization’s mission, and without this gathering our budget will be greatly reduced, particularly as we are in the process of negotiating potentially significant penalties from the hotel.
Updates to the website and other logistical details will be forthcoming, pending our current attempts to resolve the contract with the hotel. We hope that you will be able to join us in this new format, even if you were not originally planning to make the trip to Orlando.
Thank you, and take care,
Call for Experimental Virtual Sessions:
As with many conferences moving to the virtual format for the first time, the Electronic Literature Organization Conference and Media Art Show will be seeking innovative strategies for creating engagement and connection during the week of the virtual event. These can include both synchronous and asynchronous sessions. If you would like to lead a virtual happening, please submit an abstract of 150-250 words describing the session via our submissions portal: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/cgi/ir_submit.cgi?context=elo2020. Here are a few ideas from our conference team to get you started:
- Synchronous roundtables or hashtag chats
- Netprov or other virtual performance pieces
- Digital poetry jams in unusual platforms (Animal Crossing? MMOs)
- Social media exhibition pieces
- Game or electronic literature jams appropriate to the conference theme
Select the category of “Virtual Engagement Sessions” when submitting. This call is open both to those who had already planned on joining us in Orlando, and those newly able to participate due to the move to online. Our team will review proposals on a rolling basis through May 1st, and reach out to discuss strategies for implementation as appropriate. We look forward to working with you to craft an engaging program under our new constraints.