INFORMS Annual Conference  

INFORMS Annual Meeting 2012, Phoenix, AZ, October 14-17

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INFORMS TV – Tangible, Virtual

by Barry List on October 16th, 2012

For INFORMSers like me who work inside a bubble – I’m Director of Communications for INFORMS, and I spend most of my time talking and corresponding with volunteer leadership and staff – INFORMS TV has proven an unexpectedly satisfying experiment in putting a voice and a face to those who INFORMS members know principally as a name and a distant presence.

INFORMS TV has been an experiment for the association, which accepted a bid from the company Websedge to prepare thought leadership spots for organizations that work or teach O.R./analytics, and also add interviews with INFORMS officers, volunteers, staff, and members.
For me, the thought leadership spots at schools like the Naval Postgraduate School and the University of Alabama, and companies like Lockheed Martin gave me the opportunity to take a look inside, down the hallway, into the computer lab, the classroom, and the workstation. Most important, it provided a firsthand look – a virtual look of course – at people who are pioneering programs or conducting exciting research.

For example, I exchanged emails many months ago with Dean J. Michael Hardin of the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Commerce about the business intelligence/analytics program at the school, but didn’t have the chance to meet him in Huntington Beach, at a meeting of analytics school representatives. INFORMS TV let him explain the work of his campus more vividly than a website or email could do. I got to know him better.

I recorded a podcast with David Alderson of the Naval Postgraduate School about the security threats to America’s infrastructure, but watching him onscreen gave a more complete sense of his personality than I got recording the interview. It was also great to see his colleague Gerald Brown on camera for NPS (I’ll always be grateful to Jerry for making possible the Science of Better podcast that ORMS Today’s Peter Horner and I recorded with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen).
Hopefully, INFORMS members came away from INFORMS TV with a more tangible sense of INFORMS leaders than they had before. You may have read an interview with INFORMS Executive Director Melissa Moore or a column by INFORMS President Terry Harrison, but they don’t tangibly communicate Melissa’s enthusiasm about INFORMS, or Terry’s satisfaction with the association’s new direction or, for that matter, incoming President Anne Robinson’s commitment to marrying INFORMS with the burgeoning analytics movement unless you see them explain it for themselves.
INFORMS TV has transformed committed operations researchers and INFORMS leaders into more than a name on the page for the 4,000 plus operations researchers who attended this annual meeting. At the conclusion of the conference, we’ll share these films with the rest of INFORMS membership via the INFORMS Youtube channel.
The image on the screen has, of course, been virtual. But for many of us, it’s a step closer to tangible.

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