Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Minor mysteries of pandemic days

  • Why are virtual conferences, seminars, and scholarly get-togethers of all sorts springing up like weeds on my timelines & in my inbox? Why would adding Major Conference Stress, writing a paper frantically amid Covid distractions, and taking the whole circus to Zoom be appealing to so many organizations right now? I get that the lovely people behind all of these are trying to continue a scholarly community, but honestly, having even a small amount of time to think about actual writing WITHOUT Major Conference Stress is one of the few silver linings to this whole situation.
  • I nominate the following as the major genre of writing these days: “Our days are full of despair, and I in particular am completely undone by it. Can’t work at all. And oh, by the way, I’m thrilled to announce that my new 5,000 word article on Vox or Medium or the following journal about my despair and undone-ness has just been published.” 
  • Does anyone share a House Hunters’ Hate-Watch level of interest in what may be called the Scholarly Influencer syndrome? I’m not on Instagram, but my understanding is that Influencers are paid handsomely by ordinary people with apparently oodles of money to show what kind of of pillows and nail polish they buy, or something. The Scholarly Influencer exists, too. I’m not talking about people who share and bond over experiences, liking and congratulating others for achievements and creating a value-added sense of community by posting information that’s not about themselves. I’m talking about the kind that immediately jumps on Facebook or Twitter to announce publications and promote themselves but can’t be bothered to respond to others and be part of the community on either. 
  •  Is anyone else either (1) amused or (2) irritated by the flood of emails telling you of their vast concern from companies you may have ordered something from once 15 years ago but first you have to log in using a password, which requires the whole Password Authentication Dance? 
  • Edited to add: why so many think pieces telling me that baking bread (which *ahem* some of us have been doing for many decades) is pleasurable and comforting? Where’s the follow up piece explaining that water is wet? 
What minor mysteries are puzzling you right now?


heu mihi said...

The mystery of why my car insurance company sent me a check for $43. Apparently they're refunding everyone 15% of their payment. That's a pleasant surprise, and I'm not complaining (a NICE mystery, for a change!), but it's still weird.

And I, too, have exactly no interest in these online zoomy conference things. Among the best parts of a conference, in my book, is the building of actual community (= socializing); hearing papers is nice, but I can also read articles; and I've only rarely found that the feedback I get on my own work is useful (usually because, by the time the conference rolls around, I've moved on from/am otherwise less interested in the abstract that I submitted X months ago). Plus, I'm spending too much time in front of my computer as it is!

gwinne said...

OMG yes.

Although I do think there might be something gained by rethinking moving large numbers of people across the country to congregate at professional conferences I am NOT in favor of creating more and more and more digital experiences. Basically I'm pissy about anyone capitalizing on this experience.

Bread: okay, I'll confess we've baked bread as part of the 'homeschooling' endeavor but only because LG decided it was a good idea. Tiny Boy's new favorite website is Americas Test KItchen for kids; we made him a chocolate cake for "tiny Boy's day" (today--his half birthday).

I will say I attended several larger (department and college-level) gatherings with my video off, as I was not required to say anything at all, and CLEANING MY HOUSE with a meeting in the background was pretty sweet.

heu mihi said...

Another minor mystery: Why is evite sending me so many adds? To what exactly am I to be inviting people?

undine said...

heu mihi--that is a pleasant surprise, and from an insurance company, yet! The socializing is the best part of the conference, and sitting and staring earnestly at a screen is something that as you say we do too much of already.

gwinne--It'd be great if we didn't have to travel to go to conferences. If we went to this model only, I'd be okay with it, but this is all "let's do a conference substitute and THEN the real conference next year." Your idea of turning video off & listening while cleaning is the perfect solution. I've discovered that I can't really see Zoom faces despite my glasses, so it's even more taxing than I had feared.

But baking bread is never a mistake. Happy half-birthday to Tiny Boy!