Postcard from Austin: Rainbows and Research

I will give a full recap of the conference when I return, but I wanted to give our loyal readers (yes, all three of you) some of my initial impressions.

I flew to Austin from Michigan on Sunday afternoon. I do not love flying, something about being packed in a metal tube with strangers thousands of feet in the air rubs me the wrong way. Added to that was the fact that is was like, 136 degrees in Austin. I was a touch grumpy upon arrival. But after I settled in, I saw this from my hotel window:

Rainbow Over Austin

Rainbow Over Austin

My grumpiness mellowed and my excitement returned as I hoped this was a portent to my week.

Research I have been pretty busy the first three days of the conference, sitting in on the Research Skills workshop on Monday and helping with logistics (which included frowning very hard at the hotel A-V dude) for the Research Forum on Tuesday. I liked the presentations from the Forum. It was a good mix of academic researchers and what I guess you would call “working practitioners.” I really like the attitude from some of the presenters that saw a problem, researched and developed a solution, all without the need for a grant or years of testing and development.

I also enjoyed meeting the people I had been communicating with via email over the past couple of months for the Forum. I was busy enough that I did not get to meet all of them, but I had some very good conversations nonetheless. It was great to meet people not from SI at Michigan (no offense, SI) that are working in different places and specializations. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am not good at the networking thing and my previous correspondence with these folks gave me a great opportunity to approach and talk to them. Although I still have not collected any business cards…

Austin is Twitter-tastic I have been on Twitter for about five months now, and @TheNewArchivist has been on only a couple of weeks. I came to be a serious follower of people in the archives world during the last A&A listserv meltdown (if you don’t know what I am talking about, see the great post at Beaver Archivist). However, I did not realize that Twitter has such a robust archive community until this week. People have been great about helping others (like me who wondered where the Hell I was going to eat dinner) and give surprisingly rich details coming from the sessions and events I have not been able to attend. Not to mention, made us NewArchivists feel very welcome (a special shout out to @archivesnext for that).

Biggest Surprise So Far: I was so looking forward to the conference, that I was almost looking at it as a kind of getaway. Nope. All this fancy learnin’ is hard and I am beat at the end of the day.

More to come next week…

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