From September 27th – 30th, I’ll be down under in Brisbane, Australia for the IR 7.0: Internet Convergences conference organized by the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR). For people like me, I believe this is a seminal event to go for, not just because of your CV, but for networking with the most diverse gathering of Internet researchers around. To illustrate how huge this is, AoIR has received around 440 conference submissions this year,
most of which around 220 should be presenting.
I’ll be torturing the audience with my research entitled “Building Social Capital for Online Youths: A Singapore Case Study“, which is a cumulation of my previous study on how we can measure attributes of social capital, and applying them to case studies (i.e. content analysis, telephone interviews) of community-oriented web sites in Singapore. While we have numerous social platforms online now (e.g. blogs, photo/video sharing sites), I see this study as a precursor to how the social aspect of the web could be further advanced. In essence, I wish to figure out how to push our existing online architectures to be more socially useful than before.
All said and done, this conference is going to make me really broke.
First, flying from Buffalo to Brisbane is a major ouch. I think it’s as bad as flying home to Singapore in terms of financial cost and time spent tossing around in economy. Then, there’s the official IR7.0 conference hotel which is the five-star Brisbane Hilton. Even though it’s said to be heavily discounted, the going rate is around US$160/night. The conference registration itself (which also gives you 1 year of AoIR membership) is $180. But wait, that’s not all… there are optional things to go for which aren’t cheap either, such as workshops and a Conference dinner ($42). In all, I am expected to dish out at least $2,600 for the 3-day conference.
What am I going to do?
First: Cheaper air fare.
Fatwallet has a great FAQ on “How to find the best airfare deals“. While I found Orbitz to be quick and cheap compared to Expedia, I just used Mobissimo.com since it searches all the travel fare sites for me. I eventually found a deal for my trip to be around $1,737 (including taxes & fees). Incidentally, Orbitz also offers several RSS feeds for travel deals so it’s something worth tracking for next time.
Second: Cheaper accomodations.
I scope out the area around the official conference location to find a cheaper hotel. My advisor got the Marriott Hotel for around $100/night via Priceline, so I might try that. Usually when I bid on Priceline, I always check BiddingforTravel.com for the lowdown on how low people managed to get with their bids based on time and location. I couldn’t find many people posting their wins on hotels in Australia, but I know it should be about $100/night.
Third: Cheaper social functions.
I’m really not sure it’s worth spending $35 for conference workshops, let alone a $42 conference dinner. It makes me wonder how financially-gifted students have to be in order to succeed. I’ve half the mind to organize my own social event by emailing interested student attendees to gather at a designated location for the poor student version of the dinner conference. We’d be bring our own food and meet somewhere public so we can concentrate on one another, instead of our thinning wallets.
Finally, I’m applying for conference funding from my university’s Graduate Student Association. It’ll be $400, which isn’t even a quarter of what I’ve to pay, but it’s better than eating dustballs for months. Sucks to be middle-income poor… you’re neither here nor there. What can I say… snakes on a plane man… snakes on a plane.
Aside 1: I’d love to meetup in Brisbane… if anyone of you lives around there, give me a holla!
Aside 2: What’s the future of cheaper air fares? Check out these price prediction experiments!