- Great choices on the hotel sites. You could walk outside if you wanted to, but for those with health issues affected by the cold, like some of my colleagues, it was possible to get from the Sheraton to the Westin and other points via the giant mall.
- The giant mall meant more places to eat, get coffee, and so on, so there was less stress about grabbing a quick bite to eat.
- Also good: no secret password for wifi--yay! Every year I go hunting for it, since it's not published, but this year when I asked at the registration desk, they told me there wasn't one. That's a good way to increase access and engagement, so thanks!
- Really good panels, even if some weren't well attended. I don't agree with the commenter at Dean Dad's who said that MLA ought to count the audience and get rid of low-attendance ones. Just as there's room for tentpole movies and small indy ones, at the MLA there ought to be the big sessions but also more focused ones so that people in emerging fields can connect with one another. Does every panel have to draw the audience of The Dark Knight Rises? Also, are you really going to hold the Sunday at noon sessions entirely responsible if they don't draw a huge crowd?
- Like Dean Dad, I noticed a lot of Macs being used for presentations and also a lot fewer of the "I can't get this thing to work; I think we have to turn off the projector and reboot" or "It's showing on my screen; I don't know why it's not projecting" problems of yesteryear. Is it that technology has evolved, that Macs are easier, or both?
- The signage was better, and there were a lot of people to help you find rooms. This sounds trivial, but when you're walking (lost) through a cavernous convention center or are trying to figure out which floor the session is on, having someone there eager to help makes a difference.
- There were people checking badges this time, and not just at the book exhibit.
On the more substantive side, Michael Berube and others put the focus on jobs and the state of the profession, which is where it should be.