There’s a nice (little?) piece in the April 9 Inside Higher Ed, “In Praise of Small Conferences,” by Jason Pickavance. The basic up-shot is that small conferences are better than big ones, and he goes on to describe what seemed like a perfectly pleasant meeting of the Two-Year College English Association West in Park City, Utah.
I would basically agree with Pickavance, but I would use the analogy of seeing live music. Those small venue events featuring performers I had not heard of before seeing them are often the best. On the other hand, there is a certain energy and excitement that comes from seeing the big and flamboyant rock shows with international acts. Small shows tend to be affordable entertainment; big shows nowadays tend to stretch into three figures.
My favorite music shows are the sort of medium-sized ones. My wife and I are going to see k.d. lang and Lyle Lovett perform together at the Ann Arbor Sumer Festival in June. They’re going to be at U of Michigan at Hill Auditorium, which holds around 3500 people. A big theater-sized performance featuring pretty big name acts.
Which, by the way, is one of the reasons why the Computers and Writing conference is pretty much my favorite. Besides being focused on my area of scholarship, it’s about the right size of conference for me. It’s not tiny, like the 80 or so people at the conference that Pickavance writes about, but it’s not giant like the CCCCs too. And better yet, I’ll be commuting to this year’s event.
Of course, looking at the calendar just now, I am realizing that this is coming up on the calendar quicker than I recall, May 17 to May 20….