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Digital bridges cannot cross analog gates

Reda SadkiGlobal health, Thinking aloud

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about an interesting question, as I’ve observed myself and colleagues starting to travel again: “Why are we again funding high-cost, low-volume face-to-face conferences that yield, at best, uncertain outcomes?” I am surprised to have to ask this question. I was hoping for a different outcome, in which the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic led to a lasting change in how we bridge physical and digital spaces for a better future. We were brutally forced to work differently due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s restrictions on freedom of movement. Nevertheless, we discovered that it is possible to connect, meet, collaborate, and learn without sinking budgets into air travel and accommodation. At least some of work-related travel was due to habit and convention, not necessity. Yes, there were limitations, especially due to the emergency nature of the pivot to online. But the debate is open …