On Friday I flew in to New Orleans for my first CCCC convention. It was my first conference in my chosen academic field (besides the little regional one we host), my first time with my advisor outside of school, and the first time that I’d be meeting other people in the field outside of those at the schools I had visited when researching doctoral programs.
I never get direct flights. Mostly that’s because flying out of Flagstaff isn’t conducive to that type of flying. We are on little twin-props up here that fly in to Phoenix Sky Harbor. From there, though, I’m almost always get a non-stop flight to my destination. Not so in the case of New Orleans. USAirways didn’t have any flights going there. None. So we had to fly to Houston. What a disaster of an airport. How many times do I really need to go through security? How far apart do terminals REALLY need to be? And if sitting on the tarmac for two hours, then being told we can’t get up to use the bathroom or the captain will have to pull over the plane and we’ll lose our spot in line, sounds like fun, I would gladly trade it for a drive. It would have been faster, I’m sure.
Our taxi driver was out to kill us. I know this because he turned up the stereo so we had to yell, then he proceeded to swing his van in and out of traffic, nearly hitting several cars, BEFORE asking us where we were going. Ahem.
What kind of airports and hotels don’t offer free wifi in this day and age? SkyHarbor gives free wifi. Not so Houston or New Orleans. Not so the Riverside Hilton. $14.95 a day? That’s highway robbery. Seriously. Get with it, people!
I love New Orleans. Even though it was muggy and hot, I love the city. There is an energy there that can’t be found anywhere else. The people are nice. The city is beautiful. It is just one of those places that I love to visit.
I’ve been reading others’ blogs on their CCCC experiences. There are topics on panels, on the 9th Ward tours, on the lack of wifi (seriously, this is an issue when you’re presenting on Internet-based technologies), and on the outcry of non-rhetoric/comp professors belittling rhet/comp people and/or CCCC. They are all interesting and insightful for me, since this was my first time there. However, the thing that struck me was the way panels / rooms were presented.
My room was supposed to have wifi. We had requested it and paid for it up front. We had presentations on Second Life, MySpace, and Bb Vista classrooms; we needed the access. Luckily, I had done screenshots to get ready for presentation and brought them along (I also did them for my advisor so she’d have hers).
Ok, fine. I know, working in the technology field, that quite often technology fails us. I can get over that. It’s really not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. But what about boredom?
I’ve been to a LOT of conferences. A lot. Never have I been to a conference where people actually read their papers. I’m not talking just glancing down now and again to get the gist of the topic, but actually reading the paper from beginning to end. Reading it. Sometimes not even looking up at the audience. No engagement. None. Just post the thing up to the site and let me download the PDF. Seriously. I’d probably get more out of it.
Maybe I’m shooting myself in the foot here, but I don’t understand why we would read papers. Let’s engage one another. Let’s share the research findings of our respective topics and then discuss them. I don’t need to hear that all of your verb tenses are consistent or that you are a brilliant writer. Rhetoric, and composition, are more than that. It’s about communicating an idea. I want to know what you think about what you’re sharing. Talk to me.
And yet, I read my paper because that’s what is done. I did, however, try to engage our small, but interested, audience by speaking to them, talking about my images, and sharing with them the ideas behind my research.
In the end, a professor from one of the schools that I applied to came up and talked to me. She asked me if I was really going to Minnesota. I told her I was. She let me know that she had been asked to attend our session to see me. It seems that they were going to offer me a spot in their program. That’s a nice feeling. Out of the 5 schools I applied to, I was accepted into 4. The 5th one wasn’t really an option because it didn’t fit me. I applied because it’s a state school and it would be closer to home.
Our trip home was crazy. Five hours in the Houston airport (with no wifi). It was good, though, because my advisor and I really talked about us — shared things that we hadn’t talked about before. I consider her more than a mentor and advisor at this point. She’s a friend.
I’m already thinking about next year’s 4C’s. San Francisco, here I come!