Good summaries abound on the web, but I thought I’d turn in my thoughts as well.
- Congrats to the folks at the University of Michigan Sweetland Writing Center for their excellent organizing and venue choice. The panel rooms were great and the dorms were fine. The union center worked okay, but the audio needed a bit more oomph, as the clinkity clank of silverware made quite a racket.
- Being in Ann Arbor reminded me a lot of Gainesville. There were parts of town that were wicked trendy, awesome little businesses (lunch at Zuckerman’s deli owned), and cool college town stuff. There was also a high quotient of student-priced cheapo-grunge businesses and shitty housing around the campus. Also, a very high hipster quotient (even compared to my current environment, a Chicago art school).
- Had a lovely evening at a bar with Bradley Dilger and Alex Reid. Aside from great conversation both academic and personal, I also learned an excellent theory of group activity: three people is the best number for long, peer events because you can have a single conversation for the whole time. With four, you break into sets of two.
- This is the first conference I’ve been to in je ne sais how long where I saw no stinko papers. I wasn’t enchanted with the Tim Wu keynote, but mostly because I thought he didn’t know his audience very well. We all got what he was saying really fast, and he could have pushed into more detailed discussion earlier. I thought the Hawisher talk was a nice summary of the past and likely future of the field, but its narrative style didn’t fit the dinner environment, which could have used a strong entertainment component to hold the hungry and beer-seeking audience in thrall. By contrast, all the papers I heard were quite good.
- #c02 – Laurie Gries gave a really interesting talk weaving de Bord and ideas of psychogeography in with notions of circulation to examine how the Shepard Fairey HOPE image circulated. Oodles of examples and cool stuff. Derek Mueller demonstrated the awesome potential of animating the data reflecting how keywords in CCC have circulated over the last 20 years. Really compelling visuals and interesting conclusions.
- #d03 – Cynthia Haynes, Jan Holmevik, and Victor Vitanza reflected on MOOs and the current state of the web. Each presentation was startling, interesting, and different from the others. Vitanza, as always, entertains as much as he provokes thinking. Check out my tweets from the session to get more details.
- #e13 – the “Is Blogging Dead” roundtable yielded lots of great conversation and interesting stuff. LOVED it. Bradley has a better summary than I could write, and Dennis Jerz storified the whole twitter sidechannel. It was good stuff!
- #f09 – Michael Pennell gave a really interesting piece about using Google Maps as a writing platform, and Tim Amidon related sustainability, ecology, tourism, and writing classes. I especially liked his use of the Hawaiian term “Haole” (pronounced how-lee) to describe the practice of FY writing students entering digital spaces to do projects. It’s a great term, one that acknowledges the assholishness of arrogant outsiders but also suggests the good intentions and positive goals those outsiders have. Respect for the root is a useful idea I took away from the conversation.
- #TH-02 – The Digital Humanities Roundtable was interesting, but I didn’t get a whole lot out of it. The main thrust seems to be that the keywords digital humanities open up purse springs for people with grant money and get deans all excited. Few of the town hallers seemed to have much use for the term themselves.
Overall, the conference was really great for being able to spend time with Bradley, a colleague from my UF days who is simultaneously mentor and peer, far enough ahead of me in his studies and work timeline that I can watch how he navigates various waters and aim to emulate him, but close enough that we are friends who can collaborate and conspire on even ground. It’s also good to reconnect with Ulmerians sometimes, as we have a similar perspective on the world, even if I’ve drifted more into Popular Culture studies while he has moved more toward Technical Communications as his star rises in the Rhet/Comp world.