The Cancelled Conference Conference – Broadcasting digital research to the world

conference poster showing figure with face mask
Ann Harrison

On June 16th 2020, the Centre for Data, Culture & Society hosted its first online conference. The event was organised in the context of the global coronavirus pandemic which saw many international academic conferences cancelled at short notice. In the light of these announcements, we decided to provide a platform for our research community to share their new findings and ideas. 

CDCS Director, Professor Melissa Terras, welcomed attendees and introduced a programme of digital and data-led papers from across the disciplines, and a screening of a live performance. Papers covered broad topics, from eHealth and linguistics to community archiving and literary fan studies. Presenters were based in schools within the university's College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, and attendees joined the conference from locations across the globe. 

Click here for the full conference programme and abstracts 

 More than 65 people attended the conference, some joining for panels of particular interest, but many attending the full afternoon. Hosting an online conference allowed us to open things up to a much wider audience: we were delighted to see that more than a third of attendees were tuning in from locations outside of Scotland, and more than half of our attendees identified as members of academic institutions other than the University of Edinburgh or as members of the general public. 

Although hosting an online event has its challenges, attendees reported that the conference sessions were well-delivered with engaging speakers. See below for some anonymous feedback from those who took part:

"Thanks to everyone who organised this, I wouldn't normally have a chance to see talks on these subjects and I'm having a great time"

"Really enjoyable"

"One of the most friendly and interactive webinars I've attended"

"Some great presentations across a diverse range of subjects"

"The performance was a real highlight"

Melissa Terras closed the conference with a few words of thanks, which we would like to echo here: 

It was a really engaging, interesting and enjoyable afternoon because of all the excellent speakers who joined us to share their work. Thank you to all who have been involved in the Cancelled Conference Conference!