In my previous post I mentioned James Boyle. Boyle gave a fantastic address, “The Opposite of Property,” at the 2003 e(x)literature conference . (Hear the MP3). BTW, this was the first conference I experienced remotely. I downloaded all the mp3’s and listened to 2 days of discussions about digital archiving and the sorry state of literature. Also recommended: Poet Stephanie Strickland reads her poetry (MP3), Stuart Brand talks about how a millenial library would be organized (MP3) and Howard Besser talks about the current technological challenges in archiving (MP3). All of these talks are incredible, and honestly, there are a dozen other talks (all online) that are great too. Everyone important in the eliterature field was there (except me of course!), and the issues of literature were laid out pretty thoroughly. Eliterature is a great bunch of people (I hung out with some of them at Hypertext 2000 Conference in San Antonio).
Among other things, this conference is a trailblazer by offering mp3’s free for the public. If only more conferences could do this. I actually heard the entire conference while doing housework and going on a long road trip.
Another rant about conferences. In a technological or academic field, going to conferences sustains a person’s mind and creativity. But the dirty fact is that conferences are expensive and most people go only if their company pays and if they can get the time off. I was amazed at hypertext 2000 to find that many Europeans had trekked to San Antonio for a conference. Great conference, but not THAT great. (And I flirted with the idea of going to Hypertext 2001 in Norway, until I started calculating the costs). The offline chat and networking can be great at these conferences, but almost no one can attend enough of these things (The two exceptions seem to be Cory Doctorow and Dave Weinberger, who go to every conference under the sun). The custom of “conference blogging” is a happy wonderful tradition that should offer the vicarious thrill of attending for the willing but destitute.
If you develop a good reputation giving talks on the lecture circuit, that increases your chances of getting invited (and possibly even getting travel paid for). The more outrageous and pontifical you sound, the better (see Joshua Davis for how to do that). Some of these conferences are just outrageously expensive ($2000 plus for conference fees alone). I’ve even read about geek conferences given on cruise ships.
One sign that your blogging is sapping your intellect is when you start linking to articles without actually reading them. Rettberg did a good blurb for Michael Berube, and I suppose I will have to concur. I’ll have to wade through his ouevre at my leisure.