A Face to Face RBC Blogger Meeting

In Chicago today on the 6th floor of the University of Chicago’s Gleacher Center, I had the pleasure of meeting Harold Pollack  for the first time.   He saw that I was speaker at a Booth School Real Estate conference and he was kind enough to find me and introduce himself.  We had a nice talk.    Whether the Internet is a substitute or a complement for face to face meetings is an old question.  In this famous 1998 paper , Glaeser, and Gasper argue that they are complements (i.e like peanut butter and jelly).    I have now met three RBC bloggers.   Michael O’Hare and I have had lunch in Berkeley.  I always learn from Mark K on the 6th floor of the UCLA Public Policy building and now I have met Harold and hope to see him when I return to Hyde Park in early December.    I’m going to Stanford a few times soon and now I’m wondering if I can track down Keith.

Author: Matthew E. Kahn

Professor of Economics at UCLA.

11 thoughts on “A Face to Face RBC Blogger Meeting”

  1. I just met Johann and Mike O’Hare two weeks ago. Mark and Harold I have known a long time. Amy Zegart is of course is here so we have met also; Bob Jesse isn’t too far away and we met about two years ago IIRC. I look forward to encountering the rest face to face someday.

  2. The Glaeser paper is good. To be complete, there’s a third boundary possibility between substitution and complementarity: neutrality, if telecontacts are simply additional to face-to-face. Also, you need to consider the whole range of types of contact. Dating websites for instance are mainly complementary, as almost all users use them as a means to arrange physical contact. Business teleconferences are largely substitutes for meetings. On the other hand, social media “friendship” seems to be to a considerable extent a new and independent type of relationship, so it’s neutral.

    One technical problem with teleconferences is eye contact. If you look directly at a face in the screen, your interlocutor does not see you looking at her. To do this you must look at the camera, not the face; and miss your interlocutor’s facial responses.

    I unsuccessfully tried to persuade the intergovernmental organisation I worked for to try out teleconferencing – it cost €5000 a head to bring an expert to Strasbourg for a physical meeting, with travel and subsistence. I proposed that the first meeting should always be physical, to establish working trust. Later, when you get round to thrashing out the details of a report or recommendation, you can save a lot of time and money with teleconferencing a group of people who know each other. But I’d never trust it for a sensitive, zero-sum negotiation.

    1. I agree that there is a lot more shared in a face-to-face than just knowledge. There is a limit to physical conferences, though, and too many attendees degrades the contacts.

      DS

  3. One technical problem with teleconferences is eye contact. …etc…

    With today’s technology, this seems retarded. The front-facing camera lens on my iPhone, used for “FaceTime,” is less than 2 mm in diameter. It could easily be put right in the middle of the screen, so when you looked at the face looking back at you, each of you would be looking right into the camera.

    I have only my computer, so I don’t know the answer to this: Is there “professional” teleconferencing equipment that takes advantage of better camera placement?

    1. For two people, a camera a few inches above the screen works fine. The problem is with a larger group of people, I believe there have been experiments with moving cameras, which must be expensive. In SF land, you could put the camera in a fly-sized drone hovering in your field of vision just off your focus of attention.

  4. Re. “I have now met three RBC bloggers. Michael O’Hare and I have had lunch in Berkeley. I always learn from Mark K on the 6th floor of the UCLA Public Policy building and now I have met Harold and hope to see him when I return to Hyde Park in early December.”

    What am I, chopped liver? 😉 I guess I have to start blogging more often..

  5. What Andrew said! I’m right here in Cambridge, MA, and Mark is the only one who comes to see me. I did get to share living quarters with Steve Davenport and Bob Jesse during the Washington cannabis project. It was a roaring success. I taught Steve how to do laundry. He taught me about this store called Target. Bob taught us both about nutrition.

  6. Ha. I met one of you-all at an open invitation New Year’s party. Now that we have so many trolls here, I bet no one will try that again. Though it strikes me that Halloween might be the appropriate time.

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