I like it because he systematically tracks back to the origins of the conference culture, discusses why it's so prevalent, and avoids the glib "let's do everything in journals" argument that even I've been guilty of in the past.
Some of the tl;dr points (but do read the whole thing):
- Technology and a Professional Organization Drove the Shift to Conference Publication: not speed of development of the field, as is commonly stated. It was also a more American-centered phenomenon.
- Formal archiving of conference proceedings made creating journal versions more difficult (because of the 30% rule and so on)
- "When conferences became archival, it was natural to focus on quality and selectivity." so the focus of conferences became more gatekeeping and less community.
- This in turn has an impact on community: when your papers are rejected, you don't go to the conference. For more on the impact of rejection, see Claire Mathieu's post.
- A further consequence is that computer scientists do not develop the skills needed to navigate large, community-building conferences.This is so true ! As someone who frequents SODA, SoCG and occasionally FOCS/STOC, I often find myself gasping for breath at VLDB (600+ participants) or KDD (800+). It's overwhelming to keep track of everything. And it makes it harder for me to attend such conferences regularly, even though it's important for me to go.
- Accept many more papers at conferences, but designate some to be the 'best in show'
- Center attention on the work, rather than the conference, by keeping wikipedia-like entries for pieces of work as they evolve. This is similar to Dan Wallach's idea.