Earlier this month I was at the MiT8 conference. (Hashtag here, conference programme with podcasts of the featured speeches here, and some of the papers presented here, and archive of the previous seven MiT conferences here.) My very first visit to the States. I always thought the first city I’d visit would be Memphis – on an Elvis pilgrimage – but anyway, there I was, in Boston.
Perhaps it’s the familiar names of places or the omnipresence of Starbucks (1′ 39″), but I didn’t feel as “culturally shocked” as I imagined I might be. On the contrary, quite a seamless transition it was. “Just like on the telly!” seemed to be my catchphrase during the stay. It did feel a little like seeing a celebrity in person.
As soon as I landed, I first had a chance to attend a small public seminar at Microsoft on 3D printing and its patent implications. I hadn’t given much thought to 3D printing until that day. So it was more of a “Why not” kind of decision to tag along with the colleagues to the seminar, and I am glad I did. Moreover, now looking back, how funny the timing was. A mere five days later, I found myself reading this news of the first successful test-firing of a “printed” gun.
The actual conference was over the following three days. Very intellectually stimulating, to sum up. The panel Public/Private in Transition: SNSs in National Contexts, which I was part of, was also well received. As for me, I talked about what kind of tweets were picked up by the mass media in South Korea in the course of 2012 and what kind of culture-specific discourses were constructed and promoted around them. A little personal achievement on the side was to realise that after a serious amount of meeting attendance and teaching this academic year, my stage fright might have been a bit eased. 🙂
Actually, a lot of thanks for this should go to the panel organisers, aka The Italian Team. As I mentioned before, I am incorrigibly shy when thrown into a confined space with people I don’t know previously. In a word, conferences. So, the team being around was a great comfort for me. I don’t only mean them being familiar faces; their hospitality reminded me of my home culture. What patience they had, too, with me constantly getting lost (Still couldn’t find a suitable term to describe my condition. “Directionally challenged”, perhaps?) and remembering only fractions of information (e.g. “She said the restaurant was something-something-Saints.”), which led the collective to nowhere.
The last day’s programme ended just after noon. So, I finally got to see Harvard, took many many photos until my phone battery died, walked around at the 30th Annual MayFair (although I didn’t know that was what it was), and serendipitously ended up listening to a live performance of Darlingside, a “string-rock” band. As if to prove the points of one of the panel discussions I attended, I have become a fan since.
After concluding the trip with a famous Bostonian lobster dinner at “America’s oldest restaurant” in downtown, I had to hasten back to old England. On the way, I thought it was time to resuscitate this blog. Y for Yenndetta Season 2, if you like. 😛