Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Conference Manifesto. From the NYTimes. Sent in By 2 Readers Who Have Yet To Use Up Their Free NYT Usage This Month. Still It's Early. What Happens if You Double Click That Shit? Two Articles Use Up When You Only Intended One. And What if You Read That Bruce Jenner Interview. That's One Solipsistic Treatise About Punctuation or Vikings That You'll Have To Wait Until June For. Just Saying.

This has been going the rounds of UK Classicists all day today:

We are weary of academic conferences. We are humanists who recognize very little humanity in the conference format and content. We have sat patiently and politely through talks read line by line in a monotone voice by a speaker who doesn’t look up once, wondering why we couldn’t have read the paper ourselves in advance with a much greater level of absorption.

We have tried to ignore the lack of a thesis or even one interesting sentence in a 20-minute talk. Our jaws have hung in disbelief as a speaker tries to squeeze a 30-minute talk into a 20-minute slot by reading too fast to be understood. We have been one of two attendees at a panel.



  1. I really like this new graphic. I think it's new, right? I thought it was Mark Cuban at first, but don't know for sure.

  2. Science conferences are a little better but some of the author's criticisms are relevant. Gordon conferences are the best, I've found.

    To the RGM: Just because you make something up doesn't mean that it isn't real.

  3. I still find conferences useful, but I attend mostly supportive/collegial small- to mid-sized ones with some variety in panel format (roundtables are becoming increasingly popular at one I attend regularly). I see more of the problems the authors mention when I venture to the big national conferences (which I do mostly when they're a subway or commuter train ride away).

    1. Also, even when I give a paper, I go mostly to listen, and so catch up with what's going on in the discipline. Having realistic expectations helps, I suspect.

  4. I love conferences, but found I learn the most when I go to panels on topics close enough to my own that I might be able to get an idea for my own work, but removed enough from familiar material that I will learn something.