That's what I'm doing, I guess. I do have the excuse of not actually being there. With the exception so far of Dennis and Alex, there are a lot of folk who don't share my excuse who are non-blogging it just as hard as I am.
That's a really backwards way, I suppose, of a little bemoaning on my part. I'm happy to update status and tweet, but if you don't believe that something's been lost in the grand migration to nanoblogging, well, I'd disagree. Not that CCCC was ever a hotbed of blogtastic simulcasting or anything, but the peak of that activity seems to have passed. In an age of increased networking and transparency, the conference seems content to slide back into pre-web levels of opacity. And by the conference, I mean us, of course. I hear tell that the wifi at this year's conference is dismal, which is certainly a contributing factor, but again, it's not as though it's something that we don't have control over. Or at least influence. Wifi should be considered a conference utility not unlike meeting spaces or electricity, and we should be holding our conference sites to pretty high standards.
Anyways. What actually prompted my post was Steve's link to Dan's presentation, and his ruminations on the conference in general:
what's the point of conferences nowadays? Sure, it's about networking, having meetings in person (always more efficient than meetings online, I will admit), getting "away" in the sense of a retreat, getting "away" in the sense of an opportunity to go out with friends, etc. It's fun. But now that it is possible- even pretty easy- to put a presentation like this up on the web, I'm not sure if the pros of a face to face meet-up outweigh the cons of conferences- the costs of registration/lodging/food, the time away from work/family/friends/home, the damage to the earth resulting from air travel, the bad eating/drinking habits, etc.
My answer to this is similarly ambivalent, seeing as how this is the 2nd year in a row that I've missed CCCC, and I can't really lay claim to missing it especially. It's always been one of those things for me that I enjoy when I'm there, but don't really like getting ready for, getting to, or recovering from.
That being said, I think one of the things that's important about CCCC is that it's the one time where we catch a glimpse of the true size of our network/discipline. It's only a glimpse, mind you, but still. As large and unwieldy as the conference is, our discipline is larger still, and it doesn't hurt to remind ourselves of that on an annual basis. I think we forget sometimes. Larger in terms of people, but also larger in terms of interests, perspectives, and philosophy.
But that being said, I think it fair to note that the conference has largely run afoul of the problems of scale. I think it's designed for a much smaller group, and I think our vision of it has not really kept pace with its growth. I've written on a few other occasions about how that's the case, so I won't go into details, but I do honestly believe that it's not a matter of tweaking. I'd love to see some overhauls and I'd love to see some conversations about the possibilities, but I'm not optimistic that either will ever occur. And I've written (and ranted to anyone who'll listen) about why I don't feel that optimism is warranted, and don't really feel like dredging up those args either.
I do think a national conference is worth it, but I'm not sure our national conference is worth it. But then, it's what we've got, and so I'm thinking now about Louisville, and wishing that a few more panel reviews find their way online in the next couple of days.