Tuesday, May 26, 2009

goodbye ottawa, hello montreal . . .

My presentation went well-- thanks for your good wishes -- although poor program planning meant that our panel ran out of time for questions -- really too bad as that feedback can be so helpful to a project. But I received enough encouragement that I'm going to go ahead and expand the paper into an article for submission when I get back.

Overall, the conference was disappointing although I've certainly attended some interesting and worthwhile sessions. For me, there hasn't been enough opportunity during the day to sit down and get to know colleagues from across the country or even to renew acquaintances. The sessions are back to back (with 3 or 4 presentations in a 90-minute panel), with barely enough time scheduled to get from one session to the next. As well as not enough time for productive socializing, there's not enough "recharge"time -- in our discipline, papers are always read -- and very few presenters are able to do this in a lively manner -- so that following a presentation can be challenging and exhausting. Quite honestly, if there's not going to be a meaningful opportunity to interact with the presenter afterwards, I'd just as soon read the paper on my own!

I'm also a bit saddened to see yet more evidence of the lack of respect for the Humanities in today's society, here in Canada at least. I know that Pater never has to be concerned about whether the places he presents are IT-ready. Yet many presenters simply abandoned their PowerPoint presentations because the equipment couldn't be made to work in a timely enough manner. Even worse, one of the keynote speakers yesterday had to hold a personal mike in her right hand while holding her paper in her left. She was very gracious about it, apologizing at the regular percussive bursts that jolted us when she brought the mike too close to her mouth. There was even some humour at her having to put her paper down to indicate quotation marks, but someone of her stature speaking at a major university in our capital city should be treated more respectfully.

Something else that I found discouraging was how removed the campus is from walkers -- I do understand that the campus in covered with snow a good portion of the year, and I also realize that there is decent public transportation for students. As well, I know that we've inherited these patterns of placing campuses outside a city core from past generations (who also placed so many malls there). But I hope that gradually we begin to think of walking as a first, rather than a last and rather quixotic option. I found the hour's walk to and from campus each day a great antidote to the sitting inside I had to do once there. Still, if I lived in Ottawa and had to choose between the two campuses, I much prefer the University of Ottawa's integration within a more residential-commercial area, a model which seems more European to me. Back to the future, I hope!

So far, besides the Shank's Mare I just mentioned, I've travelled by car, ferry, plane, and now I'm sitting in the ViaRail station waiting for the train to Montreal. I'm not sure when I'll be back on-line, but when I am, I'll probably be in London. Til then . . . .


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. It must be very frustrating to travel so far and yet not have the time to discuss ideas with other colleagues. I find this happens when I go to meetings, by the time we have thawed to each other it is time to go and collect the kids.
    Can't wait to see what you think of Londons IT facilities!

  3. Damn straight about that AV set up. No one asked to present should be up there without host who has set up and tested data projector, etc. and has back up if equipment fails. This has happened to me, and it still gives me nightmares. You prevailed, onward!


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