Friday, May 28, 2021
I just returned from my first “in-person” scholarly workshop since the onset of the pandemic. The event, “Introduction to the Economics of Information, Advertising, Privacy, and Data Security,” was hosted by the George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School’s Law & Economics Center (LEC). The workshop took place at the Omni Amelia Island Resort—just outside of Jacksonville, Florida.
After a warm welcome from the LEC’s Director, Henry N. Butler, the program launched into nine sessions over three days:
- Introduction to Economics of Information
- Signaling/Screening/Mandated Disclosures
- Theories of Advertising, Substantiation, and Optimal Remedies
- Economics of Privacy
- Algorithmic Bias
- Economics of Data Security
- Big Data, Privacy, and Antitrust
- First Amendment Issues
- Social Media and Content Moderation.
The sessions were led by either Prof. Jane Bambauer, Prof. James C. Cooper, or Prof. John M. Yun. I’ve attended LEC workshops in the past, and have found them to be both rigorous and entertaining. This event was no exception. The assigned readings ranged from classic articles by Harold Demsetz and Jack Hirshleifer to contemporary pieces authored by the presenters and other leaders in the field. I learned a great deal and recommend future LEC workshops to anyone who may have the opportunity to participate.
But while I took a number of inspirations for future scholarship away from this workshop, I think I will remember this event most for offering the first opportunity, after a year and a half of “Zooming,” to get together with fellow scholars from around the country in person!
A number of us on the Business Law Prof Blog have written about how the pandemic has led to the discovery of wonderful new teaching and scholarly opportunities through online meeting spaces. The ability to meet “online” has certainly made me more accessible to my students (and vice versa), and I have participated in a number of conferences and panels that I would not have been able to attend even if pandemic-related travel restrictions were not in place. Nevertheless, this in-person event reminded me of the little big things that are gained by meeting in person. To note just a few:
- New friendships made while waiting in line for a coffee
- Philosophical discussions about the nature of language and sense perception over a good meal
- Long walks with old friends along the beach
- Meeting a fellow scholar at the pool who just happens to be working in the same area, and who would be perfect for the panel you are putting together…..
In sum, as wonderful as online platforms can be, there are many things about in-person meetings that are simply irreplaceable. I am grateful to George Mason and the LEC for offering me the first opportunity since the onset of the pandemic to be reminded of them.