Thursday, March 31, 2016

Conferences and other things

  1. When you go to a huge conference that you've never been to before, where your field is only a small part of the conference and there are multiple panels devoted to things you never even knew people studied, it's wonderful.  You don't feel obligated to attend every possible panel but can wander around and enjoy the city.
  2. You can also drop into some of those panels totally unrelated to your field and just enjoy the presentations that sound interesting. You might learn something about Fountain Pen Studies or Wookie Genealogy or the Numerological Symbolism of  Divination Techniques that will be useful, but you don't have to. It's a wonderful feeling. 
  3. Here's an etiquette question: say you're one of 4 people in an audience, and the other three are obviously friends of the three presenters.  A question gets raised about a work you know well, and the presenters and audience are all agog with the implications of this question, which they've obviously never heard about before, though it's a routine one in the criticism. Do you (1) raise your hand and explain this or (2) sit on your hands and keep your mouth shut, since you know they'll figure it out if they research it? I chose (2) because I didn't want to be That Person, but I wonder if I did the right thing. 
  4. Because of the conference and other matters mostly relating to the book, my writing streak is seriously broken, but I'm getting back to it today.  
  5. Huffington Post distilled the New Yorker piece on writing inspiration down to a 10-point listicle for the TL;DR crowd, but I can't link to it because I have never clicked on a HuffPo link that went where it said it was going to go. HuffPo is as bad as the other aggregators with the click-n-switch annoyance, so I don't want to subject you to the same frustration. 
  6. The Amazon Dash, the "awesome Cue Cat of 2015" that I wrote about last year, is real, and Amazon is extending it to things like breath mints (insert your own joke here) and cat litter. By the way, I think there is a market for packaging cat litter in smaller packages, because elderly people have a hard time lifting the 35-40 lb. packages that the rest of us carry around. Even if they can get it to their cars with the help of the grocery store baggers, they can't carry it into the house. 
  7. One of the sessions listed in #2 is something I actually attended.


Dame Eleanor Hull said...

I've been That Person. Is it different if the audience is bigger? Last time I did it, it was to a graduate student, which seemed a little mean even to me, but I didn't think I'd get to see the person privately later, s/he really, really should have read the thing in question, and if s/he somehow hadn't heard of it, then the advisor should have. Someone needed to point this out, so I did it as nicely and helpfully as I could, but I was shocked (shocked!) that it was necessary.

undine said...

Dame Eleanor, I might have if the audience had been bigger, or I might have waited to see if someone else spoke up. The whole group was so obviously junior to me that I would have felt like their seminar instructor, and it just didn't feel right. On the other hand, I hear even senior people discussing well-trodden ground as though it's a new insight sometimes, and then I do speak up.

nicoleandmaggie said...

I'm that person. If I'm worried about power imbalances or whatever, then I don't raise my hand but go up after the talk and mention it to the presenter.

Anonymous said...

I'm that person. I'll offer comments in a spirit of facilitation and support and hope they're received that way. If they're not, that's cool, too. But I'll work under the assumption that people want to know, and it's better to do it at a presentation with 4 people than wait until a desk rejection from a journal.