I’ve been home from Computers and Writing for a couple days now. [Insert standard text here about it taking a long time to catch back up with real life, about having a lot to process from the conference, etc.]

It was certainly the best conference I’ve been to, and it’s been rewarding to see so many veterans of the field describe it as one of their favorites as well. As a young scholar, I felt like C’s this year (my 4th) was a tipping point for me, where I first felt I was maintaining relationships from past years and was being remembered by others. C&W (my first), then, felt like a narrowing and perfecting of that time, with so many of the faces and names from C’s–the ones I most was interested in keeping up with–coming there, too. It was friendliness and support all around, something I don’t think graduate students in every field experience.

The Sessions

I attended quite a few–I’m still in that youthful phase where I go to lots of panels and feel guilty when I skip (though I secretly hope I will always participate heavily in conferences). Besides the excellently helpful Graduate Research Network, my strongest impressions:

  • In B03, Making Writing Socially Engaging: Asking Why New Media Draws Us In, led by Eric A. Glicker (via Skype), Gian S. Pagnucci, Dennis G. Jerz, Daisy Pignetti, and David Schaafsma, I experienced my first hardcore backchannel experience. Seriously, folks in there were tweeting up a storm. I kept Tweetdeck on full screen and shrunk my Evernote window for notetaking so I could see both at the same time, and things zoomed on from there–“writing in motion” indeed. I was tired when I went in, but energized from the quick attention-switches when I left. It’s not the pace at which I want to live most of my life, but I enjoyed the temporary spin through multi-conversationality–which continued throughout the conference, but which I was most heavily involved in here.
  •  D01, What Games Say: Teaching Rhetoric Through Game Design, led by Danielle LaVaque-Manty, was the most successful of the 3 mini-workshops I participated in. I was a little surprised to find that these mini-workshops seemed to be aimed more toward the “I have absolutely no idea how to do X” mindset than the “I have a clue, but I want to learn more from experts” mindset. I wonder if C&W is always like that, or if it was just the ones I attended? In any case, this game-development workshop was fantastic, and you’ve got to love a session that gives you a literal website to walk through as you engage with the discussion and activities.
  • Unsurprisingly for anyone who knows me, my favorite session was F06: Music, Microphones, Multimedia: Writing with Sound in the Composition Classroom, with Crystal VanKooten, Bump Halbritter, and Steve Lessner. Bump reminded us of the importance of microphone use, Crystal described her efforts at helping students find more complex ways to talk about sound and music (expanding on an argument in her recent piece in Currents in Electronic Literacy), and Steve talked about ways to use popular music in the classroom.
  • I should also mention the brilliance of my co-presenters in H06. Will Burdette talked about sound as disruption, and Jennifer Ware and Kevin Brock brought their arduinos, which live-translated our tweets into bleeps and bloops. This led to a fun discussion of how different forms of composition translate into each other and the brain’s ability to make sense of sound.

Other Experiences Worth Remembering

  • Steven Hammer‘s performance: playing live beats for us over a video and narration of himself talking (remixing Burke’s parlor metaphor for 21st-century student-remixers)
  • Byron Hawk’s final call for more sound-related studies in the field. I turned to Crystal VanKooten and gave her a high-five; she’s one of many amazing sound-studying folks I met at C&W. When they’re not around, I call them my new best friends. We’ve already got some good steam on moving ahead with these projects, at the new SoundComp wiki, Will Burdette’s SoundWriting.org, and Dan Anderson’s Collaborvention space, where we made an interest group on Sound and Music.
  • Pub crawling with Daisy Pignetti and Randall McClure, which in many ways turned into a night of me getting awesome job-market advice (of all things), especially from the patient and friendly John Dunn.
  • Eating at Zingerman’s with Meredith Zoetewey and Michael and Tammy Salvo. Like Michael said, I would eat there every day if I could, and it was only lovelier going with such food-lovers (especially since none of us were afraid to share). Michael: “You’ve got to try this sandwich.” Me: “I should just bite right off the front there?” Michael: “Just bite it right off.” Me: [mouth full]
  • Using Evernote to take notes. It’s my 3rd conference using it at every session, and I’m never going back. (Er, until some new program buys it up or something.)
  • Remembering to take introverted-Kyle time and walking around Ann Arbor in what was probably the best possible weather (when it wasn’t raining). I spent a good deal of time wandering through 2 different comic/game shops, 3 used book stores, and 2 used record stores. It’s a beautiful city, and I think I could live there happily.
Here’s to C&W 2012!
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