Home > Environment, Life in General > Videopresentation invitation

Videopresentation invitation

February 23rd, 2008

With the release of the Garnaut report, it’s time for me to look again at ways to reduce my carbon footprint. I’ve been trying to reduce air travel, turning down invitations and offering to do videoconferences instead. That’s had some success, but mostly people aren’t set up to handle video, and, by the time invitations are made, there are often arrangements in place that make it difficult.

So, I’m going to take the initiative, and announce that I’m available to offer video presentations on a wide range of topics (climate change, water, infrastructure, digital economy & culture, employment and macro policy in general, among others). It’s easiest for me in business hours (9-5 pm, Mon-Fri, AEST) as that’s when I can use the UQ facilities, but I’m willing to look at alternatives at other times, if there’s someone who can handle the setup.

Obviously, I can only do a finite number of presentations, either in person or by video, so get in with your request.

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  1. February 23rd, 2008 at 14:20 | #1

    well done by you! let’s hope there’s more of it.

  2. Islander
    February 23rd, 2008 at 15:10 | #2

    I agree – well done – how about leaving a few spots on any video conferences for your blog readers ????

  3. February 23rd, 2008 at 16:30 | #3

    John, I recently attended an international conference where the organisers paid for our estimated carbon emissions offset by investing in a Chinese wind farm. Qantas also offer offsets.

    Of course this is an imperfect substitute – there are sound non-global warming reasons for wanting to limit your travel.

  4. chrisl
    February 23rd, 2008 at 17:48 | #4

    Congratulations JQ Talk the talk, Walk the walk
    Like the paperless office, video-conferencing is one of those things that is always just around the corner but never actually materialises.

  5. jack strocchi
    February 23rd, 2008 at 18:06 | #5

    Congratulations. I would first like institutions to invite me to make presentations. Then I could refuse them, citing concern about my carbon footprint.

    Alternatively, I would like to be teleported around the place.

  6. Chris Lloyd
    February 23rd, 2008 at 19:03 | #6

    Video conferencing sounds like a great idea until you think of the time zone differences for an international conference. And the fact that most of the value of a conference is the informal discussions. If it were efficient it would already be happening.

    Do you really think that voluntary sacrifices of this kind have any point at all? Will giving a donation to Oxfam fix world poverty, or make the giver feel better about themselves? It is very strange to hear an economist encouraging such altruistic gestures.

  7. Joseph Clark
    February 23rd, 2008 at 19:34 | #7


    It’s not altruisic at all. John feels bad about contributing to carbon emissions so he’s opting out. He’s a utility maximizer like the rest of us.

  8. dean martin
    February 23rd, 2008 at 20:38 | #8

    Do what I do, sit in the dark and drink. I’m saving the world.

  9. brian
    February 23rd, 2008 at 21:00 | #9

    I work for a multinational company and have meetings every week where the people attending are in Europe, Australia, US and China. Time zones between Aus, China and Europe are not a problem. Late afternoon in Aus and early morning in Europe. The US is more difficult and someone has to be out of normal work hours.
    We do not use video conferencing, just phones and our computers. We have the same power point slides, spread sheets or whatever and talk through them so we have people in maybe four different countries talking together and looking at the same slides on the screen. Better than video conferencing I think.

  10. swio
    February 23rd, 2008 at 21:13 | #10

    I don’t know if anyone has thought of this, but have you ever been invited to do a conference conducted via Instant Messenger group chat? I know it might sound a little ridiculous at first but hear me out. In my work we sometimes have operations that involve people all over the world simultaneously performing complicated tasks with them all being dependent on each other. We have found that the best way to do this is without doubt via a group chat session. As long as its well moderated it works very well, better than conference calls. I have noticed a number of media organisations taking up the concept. For example the ABC often has its reporters available online just after a show airs to respond to questions.

    I imagine a group chat with a lot of high quality economists involved could be a very productive exercise and much easier to organise than an actual physical conference. You only have to pick a topic and moderator and ask everyone to be online at a particular time.

  11. pablo
    February 23rd, 2008 at 22:53 | #11

    This could be the end of business class.

  12. pablo
    February 23rd, 2008 at 22:54 | #12

    Not to mention the contra deal.

  13. BilB
    February 24th, 2008 at 02:21 | #13

    Good initiative JQ. Thinking it through I see an opportunity for Sony with their “play station” to put together and accessory package to enable video conferencing for both family and business. Please keep this topic live as the process progresses.

  14. BilB
    February 24th, 2008 at 02:31 | #14

    No sooner said than done.



    This truly is an amazing age.

    Whaahoo!!!! I get a playstation 3 at the office, and a plasma tv.

  15. rog
    February 24th, 2008 at 06:41 | #15

    Current internet speeds and bandwidth preclude good video on VOIP – and it detracts with voice transmission – Australia is just not ready. I found that turning the visual off restored sound quality.

    However there is that loss of intimacy which face to face meetings generate.

  16. February 24th, 2008 at 07:32 | #16

    worse than loss of intimacy, is the creation of a text/video record on some nsa file server. wouldn’t bother me, but people engaged in international chicanery will have to continue to take working vacations on tropic islands.

  17. Chris Lloyd
    February 25th, 2008 at 18:03 | #17

    Hi Brian, Video conferencing is fine within the Asian time-zone. But it is simply not going to work for Europe or the US. I really do not understand JQ’s gesture. Perhaps within the East cost it makes sense. But Aussies are always going to have to fly to international conferences. I wish it weren’t so. I hate flying – believe me.

    And Joseph Clark: “It’s not altruisic at all. John feels bad about contributing to carbon emissions.� Are you serious? That’s not altruistic? Economics is supposed to be about rational action and incentives. The world climate will either self-destruct or not. In either case, I have the choice to fly to the US for a conference or not. In either state of the world, I am better off flying (assume it is a conference worth attending) Straight prisoner’s dilemma.

    I am afraid JQ’s gesture is as silly as imposing water restrictions, which sees little old ladies hauling buckets of water around their yards while others enjoy a 45 minute shower. Water should be priced. So should carbon.

  18. jquiggin
    February 25th, 2008 at 18:37 | #18

    Chris, if you read the post properly, and check discussion on the site regarding carbon and water, you’ll see that every point you make has been anticipated. If you read again and still don’t get it, I’ll try to spell it out further.

  19. Chris Lloyd
    February 27th, 2008 at 18:21 | #19

    Re-read the post ‘properly’. Nothing in the 165 words anticipates my objection.

    To not waste anyones’s time, I would appreciate a link to a post or comment which explains why I, as an economically rational untility maximiser, should unilaterally reduce my C02 output. (Actually, not being an economists, I have no problems with altruistic gestures that make me feel good).

  20. jquiggin
    February 27th, 2008 at 18:29 | #20

    Let’s run through the objections then

    Asian time zone: The post noted the hours for which videoconferencing would be easy, and invited suggestions to make other times feasible

    Altruism and prisoners dilemma: My objective here is not merely to reduce my own air travel, but to induce my potential audiences to take the steps necessary to make videoconferencing easy. So, I hope to have a substantial impact on the way in which these things are organised, at least within my sphere of influence. Of course, if I were the kind of sociopath commonly associated with the phrase “economically rational utility maximiser” I would never take any action to affect social outcomes, from voluntarily voting to writing this blog, but I’m not just making a personal gesture here.

    Carbon should be priced: Please don’t teach grandma to suck eggs. I’ve been making this point for more years than I care to recall. But while prices are important, there’s more to policy than prices.

  21. Chris Lloyd
    February 29th, 2008 at 18:26 | #21

    “My objective here is not merely to reduce my own air travel, but to induce my potential audiences to take the steps necessary to make videoconferencing easy.” Well, that is at least some kind of an answer, not made in the original post it must be said, but perhaps I am unique in being unable to read between the microscopic off-white font print between the lines.

    Let’s look at the key quote then. In the long-run, your policy will not have any lasting effect if video conferencing is “inefficient� for the purposes of academic exchange. If it is efficient in some sense, then you are hoping to use (a) your academic standing and the consequent demand for your presentations and (b) your monopoly in JQ seminars, to accelerate the inevitable development of video-conferencing infrastructure and processes. A worthy objective, but it comes down to whether video-conferencing is ultimately efficient – sans appropriate carbon pricing. I would say it clearly isn’t based on the last 50 years of history. So we would be better off sticking to the/your main strategy of carbon pricing.

    As for utility maximisers being sociopaths, I agree, but then I think economics is the (admittedly useful) study of sociopathy. Do your micro-economics seminars really describe any other kind of economic agents?

    You see, I think public gestures are positively counter-productive because they delay Joe Average’s realisation that he is going to have to pay plenty for water and transport in the future.

    As for your altuistic blogging, I assume that like the rest of us, you do it because it is fun and stimulating. Well, that’s the end of my input on this thread. Someone had to make comments that didn’t begin with…1. Well done, 2. I agree, 4. Congratulations, 5. Congratulations, 13 Good initiative… and Graeme Bird was not available!

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