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.