It’s been awhile since I’ve gone to any conferences. I suppose a lot of times I feel that conferences cater to the niche, and I tend to shy away from the very specific. And I don’t really enjoy passive listening for hours on end either. This year I rediscovered GEL (Good Experience Live). I say “rediscover” because I had it bookmarked in something like 2003 and then it got buried in a billion other bookmarks, then was unearthed again sometime in late 2010 (sometimes I’m an anthropologist for myself).
It was the Dead Horse Bay (site of a former horse-rendering plant and landfill in Brooklyn) “afternoon experience” that got me to sign up:
a) I didn’t have to sit in some freezing hotel conference room all day listening to everyone’s frenzied twittering
b) Beachcombing + ephemera/junk = What could be better?
The Dead Horse Bay trip–and the conference itself–was even better than I imagined. (I don’t have any insightful recaps, but there are plenty here).
First, some images of Dead Horse Bay (more Google images here):
In reflecting back, I realized that athough the conference’s (loose) theme revolved around the interconnectedness of everything, what it really reminded me is that enthusiasm can be so contagious. Really, anything can be interesting if you get the right (geeky) person talking about it. In many ways, it made me think of the film, Fast, Cheap and Out of Control (quick summary: a fascinating documentary about a lion tamer, a mole rat scientist, robotics guy, and a gardener who loves making topiaries).
In short, GEL reminded me to beg, borrow, steal and mix-n-match more from other disciplines. And I also need to remember that sometimes stumbling across and making those interesting connections among disparate, seemingly mundane subjects, is all about talking to the right people.