The Internet was originally developed to ease collaboration between remote parties, thereby, in principle, reducing carbon emissions by a reduced need for travel. Yet, conducting networking research has typically involved a certain level of carbon footprint. One fundamental reason is the publication and dissemination culture in the field, which focuses on conferences and workshops rather than journals. Not only does every dissemination of a research result therefore involves travel, even the peer-review process to decide which papers to accept, in the form of an in-person TPC meeting, also requires travel. Moreover, although the standardization of Internet technology within the IETF largely involves online discussions and audio/video streaming - unlike almost all other standardization bodies, yet regular in-person meetings are considered critical to converge discussion and build consensus. Thus, conducting networking research has resulted in a high level of travel, and a consequent high carbon footprint.
The carbon footprint of these trips (mostly air travel) can, however, be reduced by means of organizational changes and virtual conferences. Recently, as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have already witnessed a rapid transition to a virtual mode of operation including remote working, online meetings, and virtual conferences. This has resulted in first-hand experience in carrying out research but with no travel.
In this Dagstuhl Seminar, we plan to initiate a discussion on how to sustain this model even in the long term, to make it more climate friendly. Specifically, we will evaluate experiences in running and participating in virtual conferences as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The intention is to understand what went well and what went badly in implementing and deploying virtual conferences, what practical challenges were encountered, and what further needs to be improved. The broader goal of the seminar is to identify how to best retain the new status quo that implicitly reduces the carbon footprint from travel.
- Networking and Internet Architecture
- energy efficient networking