We had the pleasure to be part of the Dagstuhl seminar Towards Climate-Friendly Internet Research, which took place on July 7–9, 2021. This was the first online Dagstuhl seminar we attended. While the online format was caused by the Corona pandemic, it actually made a lot of sense to hold the seminar in an online format given that the event was largely focused on the question how we can reduce the carbon footprint of the academic community, the network operator communities, and the standardization communities. A simple back of the envelope calculation of the carbon footprint of big network standardization meetings (the IETF runs three meetings a year with 1000+ people attending) leads to pretty gigantic numbers.
Right now, due to the pandemic, IETF meetings are online, but the big question is what will happen once the pandemic is over. Will we return to the traditional climate unfriendly mode? Or will big events continue in an online format? Will we find a balanced mixtures of online and physical meetings? Or are even truly hybrid meeting forms feasible? The IETF serves as an example here, but the same concerns apply to big operator community meetings or academic conferences and workshops. While academic events are usually way smaller than IETF meeting, we tend to have way more of them per year.
There are many interesting factors to consider in this context and most of them are not technical. The seminar was useful for getting a feeling of what is feasible and what we have learned recently. In hindsight, it surely would have been nice to have more people with a psychology and social sciences background attending. And it might have been helpful to have more digital natives providing input.