Today was the last session of the virtual institute I've been writing about the past few days. It actually ended as well as possible, which was gratifying for me (and especially for the organizers!). They surveyed us for advice about the next 3 weeks of similar online workshops, and I was fairly (not brutally) honest. We really missed the time in between official events: encounters in the elevator or at the bagel table, meetups for dinner or a drink in the evening, small talk at the table when we finish a task early. That is when acquaintances can really be forged, and we get more comfortable and connected.
I got a bit of that yesterday, with the 3 other people in my task group for a couple hours in a Zoom breakout room. Again, the interactions were limited by technology, but we got to be less formal and more immediate in our conversation. Like riffing on how impossible it is to use the word "intercourse" with our students, even though that is an essential legal term for understand the Commerce Clause of the Constitution!