Wednesday, November 7, 2007

SLSA Saturday evening reception

After the last Saturday panels, there was a nice reception at the Portland Museum of Art. I went over with Paweł and some other SFRA folks; once there we found Istvan, Sherryl, Ed Chang and everyone, actually. We continued talking to Jamie Bono about video game cheat codes...I realize now that I forgot to describe that panel. Damn, now it will be out of sequence...well, anyway.

People had another good chance to talk and I had the feeling that we had all finally been there long enough and gotten to know some people enough that really good conversations were underway--so of course it was the last evening. So, right, cheat codes. We reached something of an impasse on whether or not searching for and using cheat codes should be compared to close reading and/or digging into textual history, partly because we had never spelled out what we meant by close reading and partly because (I think) we were all rather conferenced-out and possibly a little buzzed. I think I need to ask Jamie for a copy of whatever he's actually written on this so far.

Also at this point it was clear that people had settled on who they were hanging out with at the conference--I mean, that while this probably happened by the end of the first day, I could actually see it at this reception. Because this conference was small enough that we all saw each other every day, and because most people went to most sessions, we soon recognized most of the faces. So it was pretty easy to see that the same people were together in panels or at receptions, lunches, and so on.

I find this interesting because I realized some time ago that most professional collaborations began as friendships, or at least between schoolmates, and often between people who were romantically involved. You may be thinking "what about the internet? Doesn't that make it easy to connect?" Actually, I heard a quite convincing talk at New Network Theory in which a study of scientific collaboration had found that they largely occurred between people in close proximity, or who had at least one face two face meeting that began the relationship.

So when these groups form at a conference, I'd bet that within 6 months we could spot the professional results, if we looked for them. I think the need to meet in person suggests something interesting about the importance of embodied experience. More on this after I report on Massumi.

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