Friday January 6, 2006
Embarrassed by the Riches
I'm sitting here going through my LSA program book, diligently underlining speakers and topics that seem interesting, and the sheer number of talks that I want to see is daunting. On Friday morning from 9 to noon, for example, there are no fewer than ten different sessions and workshops going on, each in a separate room and consisting of about half a dozen talks, and there's a poster session running all morning as well. I'll have to flit from flower to flower in order to take in everything I want to see.
I've also been surprised by all the people I know who I've run into in the hallways on the first day alone. In addition to faculty and students from my program, there are also recent graduates, people from nearby universities I've met at colloquia, people I've met at other conferences, people I've been introduced to by my advisor, and a guy who stayed at our house a couple of years ago when my institution was hosting a conference. Whew! It's both gratifying and a little spooky how fast social and academic networks accrete around you when you're not paying attention.
Oh, and speaking of people I know: Claire's talk was awesome. Interesting phenomenon, well supported by the data, just the right size for a 20 minute LSA talk, and presented with enough background so that people who aren't well-versed in the particular sub-field (me!) could follow along. Very nicely done. I was so impressed I forgot to heckle.
I'm contrasting it with the approximately 50% of the talks that I see that are poorly organized, assume too much specialist knowledge on the part of the audience, or even read straight from the speaker's notes. (I'm annoyed with myself for missing the abstract deadline this year—LSA is such a friendly forum.)
Finally, some lessons learned from other people's misfortunes:
- Don't assume there'll be an overhead projector.
- Don't use a PowerPoint animation that s...p...e...l...l...s...o...u...t the text character by character slower than you can say it.
- If you're going to read your talk, make sure you have all the pages, and in the right order.
- Make sure to print out plenty of handouts if you don't have slides.
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"I've also been surprised by all the people I know who I've run into in the hallways on the first day alone."
See? I bet you don't even miss me. (As I hang with the Maytag repairman, who tells me on great authority that Maytags *suck* and that we did right by getting a Kenmore.)
The presentations on Nearby History at the Museum of History and Industry last night suffered from a few of the misfortunes you mention. One didn't just read from her notes, she read directly from her handout! And several provided no context whatsoever for the selections from their research they chose to share. What exactly were you studying again? And what's your connection to this topic? And what geographic region are we talking about? Sheesh.
A couple were really excellent, though. Let's hear it for the amateur historians!
Posted by: The Wife at Jan 6, 2006 2:32:34 PM
I will allow retrospective heckling if you like. Glad you liked it!