Friday, August 10, 2007

Back in the real world...NOOOOOO!!

Whoa. sometimes conferences can be so good. It takes a nice location, which preferably is in the middle of nowhere so people can't escape, but is large enough so that people don't have to be at each other's face all the time. And as the picture suggests, we had a perfect venue.

The most important thing are the people, obviously. I keep telling conference organisers who are always stressed out of their minds on the first day that as long as the people have arrived safely, they have nothing to worry about. If there are glitches in the organisation, technical issues, bad food, lumpy mattresses, if they've forgotten a detail here and a thing there, and god in high heavens, even if coffee is late or fails to turn up, people will understand, and adapt to it. But without people, you have no conference. People don't go to conferences to be entertained or in order to be able to stay in a nice hotel room or eat a specific morning cereal, they go there to meet other people, talk to them, get to know them, plan future research with them and in general to get their fixes of social interaction in between longish bouts of hermitry in their labs and libraries.

This week's conference was perfect. As a colleague of mine said, the people were great just to hang out with, not to mention to work with! There were many practically oriented people, music therapists, music teachers etc. and so there was much more active participation than normally, which was excellent. Including a concert of scratch ensembles, choirs and bands. Our choir won the Herstmonceaux Idol with our rendition of Adiemus. The only problem is that the bloody tune has been stuck in my head for two days now, and quite frankly that is about two days too long. :-)

Also, instead of the typically unproductive "graveyard shift" of papers after lunch and before afternoon coffee had been stricken out of the programme, and replaced with workshops and demonstrations. Playing with elastic bands, blowing feathers and sitting on the floor crayoning, beats listening to presentations, hands down.

There were some people I'm hoping to be able to work with in the future, my talk went well and it feels good to know that my stuff might be of very practical use for at least a couple of people involved in very interesting and important projects.

The shock we got on M25 and M11 when we hit the Friday rush hour was a bit too rude awakening to the real world. Luckily my head is still spinning after last night's Ceilidh and so the full truth that the conference is now over hasn't dawned on me yet. 'Twas probably the "Strip the willow", cause we aced the "Dashing White Sergeant"...

(Pic: Herstmonceaux Castle, East Sussex)

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