Monday, June 25, 2007

Still in Saigon.

It's not a bad hotel room view, I'll admit. It's also not a bad conference that I'm at - the 2007 NMEC, hosted by AMLA (Alliance for a Media Literate America). And what I am about to say should definitely be taken within the context of the fact that I am a newbie when it comes to conference-going. This is literally my first conference of any sort, not just my first media education conference. A more experienced friend tells me that "in general, conferences are disappointing," which I can imagine would be the case. But, even considering that fact, I can say without a doubt that many elements of this event could have been done in a much wiser and all-around more enjoyable fashion. The huge elephant in the room is the fact that the event's organizers decided to conceal the fact that Douglas Rushkoff (author and PBS "Frontline" producer, best known for "Merchants of Cool") canceled his engagement as a keynote speaker. Rumors were flying about this being the case by mid-day on Sunday, but whenever I asked a board member, I could never get a straight answer. People literally mumbled and walked away from me. This went on until five minutes before the event the following day. If someone from the board ends up reading this, I just want to say that I honestly would not have been upset about the cancelation, had you been honest with the members. The way you handled it was ultimately far more upsetting than the matter of the cancellation itself.

Despite the Rushkoff thing, a host of hotel issues (I walked sixteen flights last night because all three elevators were out, and when I got back, housekeeping had left the door to my room standing wide open), St. Louis issues (bus fare=$4.50, wow, that makes mass transit so accessible), and quality of presentation issues (I just sat through an hour-long session with a really interesting, thought-provoking title that turned out to be a workshop on how to use instant messenger, sample moment: "You can even enter your own away messages. Some people, when they don't feel like entering an away message, type a smiley face."), I AM STILL ENJOYING MYSELF AND LEARNING.

Highlights so far have been the INCREDIBLE presentations by Chris Sperry from Project Look Sharp, Henry Jenkins (who really set my mind on fire with an amazing hour-long presentation on the implications of Wiki software), and Youthradio.org. Also, the bookstore here is jam-packed with amazing resources...I'll probably just abandon some of my clothes here in St. Louis so I can bring more things back with me. Just Think (of San Francisco) is also here, and it's inspiring being around them - they've been doing youth media production for a very long time.

But ultimately I can't help but think of that scene from "Good Will Hunting," where Will confronts the intellectual bully at the "Hahvad Bah" and says something like "You've dropped $150,000 on an education that you could have gotten for a dollar fifty in library fees and the cost of a bus pass." So, if you couldn't afford to drop a grand or so on hotel rooms, registration fees, meal costs, etc., here's a library card to some of the most amazing moments I've had at this admittedly very valuable conference. But I can't afford the bus pass. At least not in fuckin' St. Louis.

www.henryjenkins.org


As of Tuesday morning, June 26th, you'll be able to download the presentation he gave this morning about Wikipedia (using Middlebury College's official rejection of Wiki sources as a jumping-off point for a larger discussion of participatory culture) at the above link. I am currently reading Convergence Culture, Jenkins' most recent book, and it's a wonderfully fresh and readable look at the same topic. Also, his blog looks incredibly enlightening in general. I have to ask myself...with blogs like this out there, is college worth $30,000 a year anymore? I'm inclined to answer "Yes." It is, after all, a great time to make friends. And make out.

Project Look Sharp

Immediately visit this site and download the "Media Construction of Presidential Campaigns" curriculum. It is free, entertaining, and hella enlightening. It can't possibly be as much fun as the actual presentation with Chris Sperry, who was undaunted by the fact that 8 people showed up to hear his presentation (they scheduled it at the same time as a "Leading the Field" working steak dinner where, I am told, lots of by-laws were ammended and such). Sperry's presentation skills are not unlike those of the wonderful Bryan Alexander. Dissecting the history of media construction of presidential campaigns with him is a process filled with "a ha moments." No, they're not "a ha moments." They're "holy fucking shit, I can't believe how stupid white people can be!" moments.

Youthradio.org

1 Part Steve Inskeep
1 Part Saul Williams
1 Tbsp. Expert Guidance in Public Radio Production
Add all three to martini shaker, shake, and serve in very cool container

Seriously, last night I met a young woman named Ayesha Walker, who has created some amazing stories that you may have heard on NPR. Here's one about Bathing Ape hoodies (this new Nigo-designed Batman joint is CRAZY RETARDED), here's the Youth Radio iTunes show. Again, there were about four people in this presentation, which was also scheduled during what I am sure was a very important networking opportunity.

2 Comments:

Blogger Noma said...

Two Chrises, coming back from two conferences, on one plane. Wow.

6:02 AM  
Blogger Noma said...

You are not STILL in Saigon. You were in Spring Hill. I saw it on someone elses blog.

4:40 AM  

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