Conference presentation post-mortem the second

Photograph of a sun-dappled stone path.
A sun-dappled path at Portland’s Japanese Garden.
I believe I consistently and correctly used the microphone throughout.1 I have not checked the recording to confirm; I am unfond of my voice, and I was there so I don’t really need to listen to the panel again. Though if you weren’t there, Teressa Raiford is most definitely worth listening to, both from a content and presentation perspective.

I had vague intentions to do a more extensive write-up of the conference, but currently lack the time/energy. Let’s just say that I’m glad I went, I’m grateful for currently enjoying institutional support for professional development, I approved of recurring themes of the conference (including the Liberated Archives Forum), and I feel some cautious optimism about the direction of the profession.2

  1. I was on a panel at the Liberated Archives Forum on the last day of SAA’s annual meeting, #ArchivesForBlackLives: Archivists Respond to Black Lives Matter, with Celia Caust-Ellenborgen, Faith Charlton, and Teressa Raiford. I doubt we’ll do anything with slides but, like most of the panels, there’s an audio recording. 
  2. Optimism largely driven by comments from all-too-rare archivists of color; caution largely driven by innate pragmatism and all-too-common data points like the most recent flare-up on #thatdarnlist. (I don’t subscribe and neither should you.) 

Conference presentation post-mortem

I finally did a presentation as part of a conference panel.1 I kind of feel like I am too old to be hitting this very modest professional milestone, but I also feel like I ought to mark it because it is a Thing I did, and it’s not like I’m the only career-changer out there.2 So I have my little speaker ribbon, I did a Thing, and now I never again have to do that Thing for the first time.

This was a very short presentation and a good way to finally do the Thing. I felt uncomfortable, I think the results were mixed, and I have a useful punch list of things to work on in the future.3

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Locating labor

Labor was a big theme of last week’s Women’s History in the Digital World conference. How to discover, analyze, and reclaim women’s invisible labor. How to incorporate the labor of conversation within the digital humanities—yakking rather than, or in addition to, hacking. How to find support, at the top and bottom, to nurture digital humanities work in general and produce projects.

A recurring theme—present at this conference, and perennially discussed elsewhere1—was the specific issue of academic institutional support, or lack thereof. I see similar conversations in groups of public historians and archivists, though folks working outside of the faculty, or outside of academic institutions in general, do not have the same sets of concerns (e.g. tenure committees, course loads) as academics. WHDigWrld15 trended very academic.2 The experiences of full professors, varyingly contingent faculty, postdocs, grad students, and undergrads bring different perspectives, opportunities, and limitations to performing digital humanities work. While I feel comfortable using the umbrella term “academic,” it’s very important to be mindful of the wide variation of roles gathered beneath that umbrella, some drier than others.3

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Later this month I’ll be in Boston for the MARAC spring conference. I’m looking forward to it: the program looks good, it’s my first professional conference, and it’s the first time in a couple years I’ve felt comfortable scheduling a multi-day trip. As a bonus, I know a bunch of people in Boston, so I’ll get in some socialization as well as conferencing. I expect to crash pretty hard into introvert time on the train back home.

I am also looking forward to MARCH’s Telling Untold Histories unconference next month. (Though I confess I’m not particularly looking forward to getting up early enough to make it into Camden by 8:30. Benefits of booking at the conference hotel in Boston.) I was initially considering this sort of a consolation prize. I was seriously considering going to the annual NCPH conference in Nashville, but decided that this was not the time to try to swing two out-of-state conferences within a month of each other. (Next year in Baltimore, maybe.) Now that it’s getting closer, I’m getting more excited about this opportunity to geek out on the public history front.