Posts filed under: conferential

I should be doing many other things, but every once in a while, there’s a bundle of ideas in my skull that gathers together and sets up a resonance field, and there’s really nothing for it but to write it out. So this is more suggestive than it would be had I the time to really write through it all.

The piece that clicked it all together for me was Jon Udell’s recent post on networks of first-class peers, which has its roots (I think) in the recent announcement of the demise of Google Reader, the death knell for which happened while I was in Las Vegas at CCCC, our annual conference for all things compositional and rhetoricky. I don’t want to project my own affect onto Jon’s post, but there was a sadness there, a nostalgia for the days when the weblog was the undisputed chief of social media. Jon closes his discussion with a look back:

What some of us learned at the turn of the millenium — about how to use first-class peers called blogs, and how to converse with other first-class peers — gave us a set of understandings that remain critical to the effective and democratic colonization of the virtual realm. It’s unfinished business, and it may never be finished, but don’t let the tech pundits or anyone else convince you it doesn’t matter. It does.

He’s responding in part to the “has Google decided that blogs are dead?” portion of the …

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What follows is a fairly rough approximation of the talk that I gave at the UK Networked Humanities Conference (#nhuk) in February, 2013. I don’t usually script out my talks in quite the level of detail that I have below, but this time out, I struggled to get my thoughts together, and scripting seemed to help. As usually happens with me, though, I went off-script early and often.

Also, I use a lot of slide builds to help pace myself, so I’m not providing a full slide deck here. Instead, I’m inserting slides where they feel necessary, and removing my deck cues from the script itself. I’m also interspersing some comments, based on the performance itself.

I’ll start with the panel proposal that Casey Boyle (@caseyboyle), Brian McNely (@bmcnely) and I put together:

Title: Networks as Infrastructure: Attunement, Altmetrics, Ambience

Panel Abstract:  In his early 2012 discussion of the digital humanities, Stanley Fish examines a number of recent publications in the field, and arrives at the conclusion that DH is not only political but “theological:”

The vision is theological because it promises to liberate us from the confines of the linear, temporal medium in the context of which knowledge is discrete, partial and situated — knowledge at this time and this place experienced by this limited being — and deliver us into a spatial universe where knowledge is everywhere available in a full and immediate presence to which everyone has access as a node or relay in the meaning-producing system.

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Late July is awfully early for CCCC notifications, but the Facebook and the Twitter were all abuzz tonight with news of whether or not our annual conference hit the Like button on our various proposals. Since I ended up doing a blog entry’s worth of writing in people’s FB comments as a result, I thought I’d collect my thoughts here. 4Cs might actually make a good theme for an upcoming Random Access Monday–there was a time when I was pretty shrill about what was wrong with the conference, even when I was in the middle of a long streak of acceptances.

The good news is that I’m no longer quite so shrill about it; the bad news is that the conference hasn’t really gotten any righter in the interim. CCCC ’13 will be the 4th or 5th in a row that I won’t be attending, after a 1992 debut, and a streak of 10 accepts in a row in there. While I didn’t get accepted this year, my record is still pretty solid, but it’s gotten harder and harder for me to get motivated to submit, much less attend. Health precluded me from attending once, and I didn’t submit for a few years after that, although I was a Stage I reviewer a couple of years, and an official proposal coach for a while as well.

I don’t claim to being a historian of the conference, although some of my first experiments with text mining were conducted on 4Cs program …

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wherein I consider the hows, whats, whys of Twitter at academic conferences

I am decidedly pro-Twitter, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time apologizing for it or even necessarily advocating for its use. Though if you push me, I will. I think that Twitter in particular (and FB to a lesser extent) provides an extra social layer of activity for conference goers, much better access for folks who aren’t there, and a crowdsourced guide to the area (making the academic conf less of a non-place a la Augé). And honestly, for those who aren’t interested in using it, there’s no real loss in either direction. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it doesn’t need to be.

RSA is kind of an odd bird in our field, conference-wise, which is part of what’s got me thinking about this:


RSA, for those of us on the comp side of things, is the one conference that steadily and selectively publishes conference proceedings. As a result, I think that many people write the “publishable” version of their talks (and subsequently read them aloud), rather than versioning them out. I have to admit, the last thing I have time to do when I’m prepping for a conference is to write a whole separate version. I’m at a place where I simply do the presentation version, without worrying about the published volume. I still have my slides from 2010, for example.

All of this is by way of explaining why I …

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So, the past 3 days were my trip down to Philadelphia to drop in on the biennial Rhetoric Society of America conference. I hadn’t really realized that this was my first conference since the last time I was at RSA (2 yrs ago in Minneapolis), but there you go. I’d really been keeping my health issues a secret for the most part, and there were lots of people at RSA this go-round who hadn’t heard about my surgery last summer. I got my fair share of “you look great!” comments, to which I replied, mostly, “Thanks, but I wouldn’t recommend my weight loss plan.” For those of you who might not have heard (I haven’t been especially public about this), I had my gall bladder removed last August, followed by several procedures to remove some rogue gallstones that were taking up residence in the nooks and crannies of my digestive system. Besides a generally healthier lifestyle, one side effect was that I lost close to 60 pounds, a bit of which has filled back in, but most of which is gone now. Honestly, this is the probably the first conference I’ve felt like I could handle physically, and I only really committed to 1.5 days of it. So far, so good. June will mark another test of my energy levels (along with the added stress of presentation).

So there was all that. I have to be pretty vigilant about my intake, and so I really didn’t avail myself of meal …

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