The 70th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association is almost upon us. Writing from here in South-east Queensland, I can tell you that the weather on the Gold Coast would have been great. Warm days, clear nights, the opportunity to go to the beach or the pool … but for COVID-19.
The year 2020 has been one of the most tumultuous most of us have experienced, and ICA has borne the impact just as our health workers, our educational institutions, our artists, our students, our restaurants and nightclubs, our shops, our airlines, and much, much more. Social distancing and working from home have become the norm, and this may remain the case for some time to come. Thoughts of travel and staying in hotels are seemingly distant memories, as we gear up for days of Zoom meetings, for writing at home, or for long-delayed domestic projects (mine was clearing out the garage!).
In the face of all of this tumult, there is a need to acknowledge the extraordinary work of our ICA team. Laura Sawyer as Executive Director, Jennifer Le, Kristine Rosa, Julie Arnold, Katie Wolfe and our new Director of Publications, Tom Mankowski. They have done an amazing job in keeping the show on the road, and enabling the ICA to be pioneers in what is likely to be a wave of virtual conferences that we will be seeing for some time to come.
You will by now have received an email from the ICA Global Headquarters about how you will be participating in the ICA Virtual Conference. In some cases, you will be recording the presentation to upload personally, while in others there will be a panel conducted via Zoom or an equivalent platform. But all presentations will be uploaded to a secure site, and viewed and engaged with asynchronously.
We have worked with the Canadian company vFairs on developing the conference platform for #ICA20. We have found them to be very amenable to our requirements, particularly around honouring the programming and scheduling arrangements that the Divisions and Interest Groups worked hard to develop before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. While one can never be sure what will happen in practice, the signs so far have been good, and there has been considerable flexibility in tailoring the product to our requirements.
We wish you all the very best with your experience of the 70th Annual ICA Conference. We acknowledge all of those who have been involved with ICA for many years, as well as those for whom it is your first ICA conference. We look forward to seeing you, and to meeting you wherever you are.