IR11 Learnings

IR11 (AoIR) - 15Now that a few days since the end of the AoIR Internet Research 11 (#IR11) conference, and I am struggling to get back into my regular work and studies, I want to take a few moments to debrief my experience and list some of the take-aways I have.

While I liveblogged all the sessions I attended, and had a somewhat active Twitter feed, there are a few things I have not said, namely what ideas and thoughts and experiences stand out to me as those critical incidents? What were some of the themes that I noticed that resonate with me?

  1. From the pre-conference session on career development for early academics, I take away the fact that others who have similar interests come from all over the place, and that academia as a second career is no longer (or becoming no longer) taboo. I thought I was the only one considering this, and was glad to see I was not isolated in this manner. As it is also apparent that European academics can move around, so can American ones. As I am between two systems (I live in New York and study in the UK), this comes with it many potential opportunities.
  2. Interdisciplinarity seems to be an acknolwedged benefit. While in many ways interdisciplinarity means people from various disciplines who work together on this or that project, I found it refreshing that there are a few others out there who share the internal interdisciplinarity that I have as well. Is it really so bad to feel constrained within silos, given how human history has so many examples of good ideas being shared and the benefits that arise from seeing the world with wide-open eyes, and not just limited ones?
  3. Being active on the conference backchannel presents interesting opportunities to connect. Just like in an office or other life situation, there seems to be a greater power in what unofficially happens than only what is listed on the schedule. How else to track some of this than following and participating in the conference backchannel (which in this case was Twitter #ir11).
  4. Following people on Twitter before or during a conference is entirely different than meeting them F2F. As many people do not use their real names or use avatars that do not resemble their current pictures, I struggle with making the connection. How many times I was next to people who I have spoken to numerous times and with whom there were missed connections. Likewise, there were a number of people I spoke to who I now regret not getting cards or other ways of maintaining contact. Wish there were a contact list with the participants!
  5. Another thing I noticed was how much I like liveblogging and Twitter streaming during conferences. I have done this before, but it seems to take on an entirely new world when there are others with a tech interest in attendance. Nothing like talking about ideas I started to develop earlier.
  6. Finally, my research paper. I have never had so many people show interest in my research before, though having spoken to 8 people in the following hour after I presented my paper, and coming away with so many new ideas and next steps, I believe that I got what I came for from this conference–ideas for next steps for my research and some new possible directions for my doctoral thesis proposal which I begin working on in January. While I did not expect anything specific, being open to the moment and open to suggestions can have powerful effects.

This all said, I am now looking forward to Internet Research 12, which is scheduled to be in Seattle in 2011.