on conferences, twitter, and not going to sxsw

Last year I went to (for me) a record number of conferences:

  • SxSWi
  • WebVisions
  • NCMPR (community college marketing people)

The first two I “sent myself” to: SXSW as a Christmas present, and WebVisions because, well, I always go to WebVisions.  My former employer sent me to NCMPR, but only because it was relatively local.  In the six years I worked at Pierce, I went to three conferences as a representative of the college: NCMPR (twice), WebVisions (twice?), and HighEdWebDev.  That last one was only because I was presenting.

Two or three (semi-)professional conferences a year seems about right; enough to fill up my brain with good ideas, and to have a break to think big thoughts, and not so much as to feel travel-worn or over-extended.

I chose not to go to SXSW this year, and I regretted it.  (It was lovely, honestly, to hear from people who had wished I was there.  Very flattering.)  I chose not to go because I’m new here and didn’t want to immediately deplete my vacation time, and because it’s a substantial chunk of money.  Not the conference itself, but travel and lodging; and I had promised C. that we’d go together the next time something like this came up, so that’s twice the expense.

I found myself missing several things last week.  Not really the crazy feeling of conference tunnel-vision, or wishing I’d been at any particular panel.  But the ancillary things; riding a bicycle on the bridges over the river, sitting in unfamiliar coffeeshops and having them become familiar, really warm weather in March.  I went early last year, in the hopes of spending time with my old (pre-blog!) friend H.A., but she was working, so I spent most of that time wandering.  I love that sort of trip; my other favorite vacation, 10 years ago this month, was similarly spent in San Francisco.

Of course there are conversations and people that were gems, and I missed that experience poignantly.  I don’t have a lot of social outlets out in the real world, particularly people who understand what I do for a living, and it’s nice to underexplain for a while.

I am going to WebVisions.  It’s cheap enough, and close enough, that I can pretty much always go, even if I have to pay for it myself.  (Last year I crashed at my friend Tom’s.)  And I’ve been approved to go for my current job, so I don’t have to worry about that.

Usually WebVisions is a solitary experience for me: sitting, listening, fingers flying across the keyboard.  (Two years ago was a fantastic exception, when I went with two people from Evergreen.) I’m wondering if I should try to make it otherwise.

I’m torn, as I was torn during SXSW last year.  I feel good, really good, after a burst of intense conversation with interesting people.  On the other hand, I’m deeply introverted and solitary; I need time to pull away, hide behind the keyboard, and synthesize.

The Twitter thing is interesting in that context, and it seems significant somehow that this latest burst of blogging on the topic follows in the wake of SXSW.  Generally, the whole idea horrifies me.  Too distracting, in a world already overdistracted. But I can see the usefulness of it in that arena.

And I realized this morning (in the shower, as I realize most things) that I’ve been doing that sort of micro-status with my Google Talk status.  I got the idea from Dylan, who writes the quirkiest things in his status bar.  It’s related, too, to various techniques I have used for monitoring my mood to keep tabs on my depressions.

I just would never imagine sharing that sort of minute-by-minute thing with the whole world.  ::shudder::

Because that’s where the deep introvert comes back into play, and the overly cautious depressive.  I just don’t want you to know quite that much about me.  It makes me uncomfortable to the point of queasiness.

Anyhow, I’m looking forward to the usual mind-expansion of WebVisions, this time without any chance of it being THE hottest week of the year.  (I don’t know if I’m glad or sad about that one.)  And next year, for sure, I’ll be going to SXSW.  I’m hoping that it’ll be part of a grandiose road trip, which I’ve also been missing.

I’m dreaming of throwing our bikes and camping gear in the Cherry 2000, and showing up dusty with travel; taking C on a bike tour of Austin; and sitting down for good conversation over the best iced mocha in the world.


2 Replies to “on conferences, twitter, and not going to sxsw”

  1. I’ve noticed the Google Talk status things (very amusing, BTW) and even thought that it was the kind of thing that could work well on Twitter.

    One thing you may not know about Twitter: it’s possible to set it up so that your updates do not become part of the public timeline and are only visible to people you have approved as friends. I haven’t limited mine in that way yet, but figure I will eventually. It’s an interesting tool, especially for someone who works alone at home like I do.

  2. I’m trying to remember if I just started doing the Google status thing myself or if I picked it up from someone else. I have no idea who I would have picked it up from, though, so maybe it did originate with me trying to be funny or something. I am wondering if Twitter might be better — then I could actually track my moods, something I can’t do with Google Talk’s lack of history.

    I’m in for Webvisions, but since I’m not doing any of the first morning workshops I think I’m going to drive straight down through the morning rush and try to get there at 11 or so. Somewhere in there I’m going to have to do a big Powell’s selloff with the move coming up.

    And it looks like I *might* just get SXSW 2008 paid for by work again, though I’m going to have to forego An Event Apart.

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