This week I’m at SIGITE/RIIT 2014 in Atlanta. I’ve been at the SIGITE conferences continually since 2010, but this is the year that I served as program co-chair. The work of putting together the program ate a large portion of my summer, and the exhaustion that I’ve complained about so much recently is directly related to that. In my exhaustion I have to admit that I wasn’t looking forward to attending the same way I have in the past.
Now that the conferences are taking place and I’m attending sessions and roaming through the poster session, I’ve discovered something amazing. I first got to know this work in July, at which point all of it was just text on the screen. My fellow co-chair and I shaped all the submissions into sessions, found chairs for the sessions, and set the authors to work finalizing their submissions. In the months between when we constructed the program and now, the memory of it faded a bit. As I now attend the sessions, it feels like a dream I had coming to life. Watching the session chairs and authors work together to present the work and seeing people stand by posters with incredibly familiar material is astonishing and deeply satisfying. None of the work is mine, but I feel an incredible connection to all of it. I’ve never been so engaged in any conference as I am right now. And I have to say that watching it spring to life is worth every minute I’ve spent.