As I have discussed in the past, my recent record at getting stuff in at the Conference for College Composition and Communication has been bad. But I was in this year and had a grand time. I saw some good talks, got to connect with a lot of old friends and EMU students, played with Twitter and listened to talk about more tech stuff than I have typically at the CCCCs, and I had a lot of tourist fun in Louisville.
I shot some video which I am hoping to put together in the next week or so to show my MA students, many of whom don’t know about what goes on at academic conferences. Here’s a link to some pictures; and after the jump are probably more details than you want to know.
- Louisville is a five and a half hour drive from here, so me and Steve B. and Bill HD drove down together and did our traditional room sharing. We split a suite in the Galt House, a room which was a) easily the biggest room we’ve ever shared at one of these things, and b) pretty cheap at $144 a night. I’ve been saying for years that the CCCCs ought to be held in places that are more affordable than San Francisco, Chicago, and New York, and they came through this year. Oh, and we had our first sampling of various bourbons that night with Nick C, Mike and Tammy S., and (I think?) Doug E.
- I went to the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing conference for the first time, which runs the Wednesday before the CCCCs. It was interesting– not exactly what my teaching or scholarship are about, but definitely an overlap with the Computers and Writing crowd. I didn’t do any of the opening session or award things, but I saw a pretty okay/interesting presentation on online teaching, went to lunch with Steve B. and Kathy N. (at a place that managed to lose our order), and then later saw a panel that included the presentation I blogged about the other day. And I don’t mean to sound too bitchy/pissy about what those folks from ODU were saying– I just happen to disagree with them in variety of ways. They put on a good show, which for me is more than half the battle.
- I went to the MSU party Wednesday night, and among many other people, I got to meet face-to-face Stacey P., who wrote an essay I assigned in English 516 and who I also seemed to see at the conference over and over again. I also chatted with one of my former EMU students who is now shining as a PhD student at MSU, Staci PC.
- After the MSU party, we went to the Brown Hotel to meet up with some Kairos folks. The Brown is a cool old place in downtown Louisville and is also the home of one of Louisville’s most local of dishes, the “Hot Brown.” Despite its scatological name (Bill suggested the better name of “Steaming Pile”), it is actually an open-faced “sandwich” of sorts. It was about 2 pounds of roasted turkey covered in a mornay sauce (which the server described as a “cheese gravy”) and Parmesan cheese, garnished with bacon, toast points, and tomato. It was delicious, but the kind of food that really ought to only be eaten on a bet. That thing held me (or I held it, depending on how you look at it) pretty much through the middle of the next day.
- Got up on Thursday and went for a “run” with Steve B. along the river– actually, that was my second run of the trip because Bill HD and I went out after we got there on Tuesday– and then made my way to the conference. I started by sitting in on one panel, but when the speaker started talking about stuff I knew a long, LONG time ago, I got up and went to the panel with Anne Wysocki, Johndan Johnson-Eilola, and Marilyn Cooper that was quite good. They had an “interactive” part at the beginning that didn’t work that well for me because of the logistics of getting to see the work, but then they both gave really nice and interesting talks. Johndan put a bunch of links up online here to check out, and I have to say that Anne made Prezi (which I have kind of disparaged previously) look pretty cool and useful. I hope I can find a link to what she did.
- Then it was time for my presentation, which went fine, I think. Pretty decent crowd, maybe 30 or so people. I did my little video puppet show (and read my script for the talk too fast because I wanted to make sure I got it all in/didn’t go over), and my two co-presenters read papers. The only thing the three presenters had in common was that we were all teaching first year composition.
- I missed Derek’s talk after mine, but the Hot Brown had left me and I was pretty starved after my presentation. Too bad, because I had heard it went well.
- Went to the annual St. Martin’s party at Churchill Downs, which was (as always) a fun schmooze-fest, but I have to say that Churchill Downs was more boring than I thought it would be. I don’t really know what I was expecting though.
- Later that night, I caught up with a crowd of guys that I know through Steve B. and Bill that I tend to end up with every year at the CCCCs. This might seem inconsequential, but to me, these sorts of outings are a part of what makes conferences in general and the CCCCs in particular useful: catching up with people I kind of know to talk about the field, bounce around ideas, find out more about what it’s “like” where they’re working, etc. I don’t like the term “networking” for the same reason I don’t like similarly business terms like “stake holders” or “synergy,” but the best way I can describe it is yeah, networking.
- Friday I had a meeting/breakfast with an EMU colleague, worked on fixing my wife’s web site from afar, and had a lovely time with EMU and other folks at lunch. I ate with Andrea L, one of my current students and Colleen D. who had presented at that morning (at 8 am, which was a little early for me), and a former student, Scott K., who is now rockin’ it in the PhD program at Virginia Tech.
- There was a window of opportunity there for some tourism in the afternoon, so Steve B. and I went first to the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. Baseball is a nearly irrelevant sport to me, but the museum and the factory tour was quite interesting. After that, we walked through the galleries at Proof, part of the 21c Museum Hotel. Or the hotel is a part of the galleries, I don’t know. Anyway, if I have the money and I’m there with my wife, I think I know pretty clearly where we’re staying the next time I end up in Louisville.
- Then it was back to the conference, where I caught the last half of a panel chaired by Bill and called “(Almost) Live at the 4Cs: Re-visioning Conference Networks.” I missed the first two and a half presenters, but the basic gist of the panel was to talk about different ways of “re-broadcasting” the conference. The concept I heard and that we talked about later was you get a bunch of people more or less videoing and otherwise recording aspects of the conference and then had a session late on Friday where you played some clips and shared some links. Seems like a great idea to me, and, as I think that Doug W. pushes that in a direction I’ve been contemplating for a while now: why are we doing conferences the way that we’re doing them? The technology is such that there’s no real reason that we have to meet synchronously, at least for the “content” part of things. Why not post presentations online as videos ala YouTube or viemo or Prezi or whatever and then use the conference as a way of discussing those presentations instead of sitting there and listening to talking?
- Went to the Friday Special Interest Group “SIG for the Undergraduate Consortium in Rhetoric and Writing,” which is basically about trying to get places that have writing majors to talk with each other. We’ll see how it goes– I was just surprised to be at an official conference thing at 6:30 on a Friday night.
- And last but far from least, I had a lovely dinner at the very fancy Proof restaurant in the 21c Hotel with John Mauk (who I’ve known since our days together at BGSU) and his lovely wife Karen, along with one of John’s former students, Ben, and his sig-o, Stephanie. Great fun, and even after all the arguing about Facebook and technologies and all that, I did manage to get John signed up for a Facebook account, albeit under an alias I won’t reveal here.
Like I said, more than you wanted to know.
Now I am simultaneously inspired once again about the field– scholarship, teaching, the whole nine yards– and I am WAY behind. And Computers and Writing is but two months away….