The Show Will Go On
As I write this in May, we are in the midst of stay-at-home orders with some areas starting to open up. As you read this in July, I hope that the world is in a better place, and that you, your families, friends, and colleagues are doing well. For those who have been impacted by the global pandemic, know that the entire optics and photonics community is with you.
Unfortunately, San Diego Convention Center will be closed through August and public health guidance prohibits large events. It is now impossible to hold SPIE Optics + Photonics (O+P) 2020 as an in-person meeting. Held annually in San Diego since 1973, O+P is still known as the SPIE Annual Meeting to many of us. While SPIE Photonics West is our flagship event, O+P represents the heart and soul of SPIE. Losing this meeting is a gut punch to our Society—I am very disappointed. But O+P will go on as a Digital Forum, and we pledge to work diligently to provide the best event possible.
SPIE has previously run three major events as Digital Forums: Photonics Europe; Defense + Commercial Sensing; and Smart Structures + Nondestructive Evaluation. The pivot to these DFs (yes, a new acronym) has been largely made possible by the dedication and hard work of our SPIE staff. These meetings were reprogrammed into virtual events with uploaded contributions of recorded talks and manuscripts. These DFs have been successful due to the participation by authors and attendees. Cumulatively, these DFs had approximately 1,670 uploaded presentations, 1,350 manuscripts, and 8,500 attendees. This is a true reflection of the vitality of the SPIE community.
There are benefits to this "on-demand" DF format. It provides the ability to jump around to the talks you want to see and to view them on your schedule. There are presentations associated with posters. But it lacks interactivity. To augment this format for the upcoming Optics + Photonics event, SPIE will include live plenaries and opportunities for real-time interaction, combined with the flexibility of recorded talks. SPIE will again hold this Digital Forum free of charge. We are very serious about supporting the community during this challenging time.
I personally ask you to fully support the SPIE Optics + Photonics Digital Forum as an author or attendee. The amount of content in the technical program will be impressive, and there is a virtual exhibition, too. This is not going to be the same experience as an in-person meeting, but it will be a convenient way of sharing results, learning new possibilities, and connecting online.
Technical meetings are not only about presentations and posters, but also our chance to interact, debate, and collaborate. I think all of us are craving these face-to-face interactions more and more each day as we work from home and can't go to conferences - but in the meantime, call someone just to say hello!
John E. Greivenkamp
2020 SPIE President