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In her opening remarks on the conference’s first day, outgoing Association of Internet Researchers president Mia Consalvo said that the conference was like a family. And, being used to massive conferences like the National Communication Association where anyone less famous than God or the Beatles gets lost in the crowd, I rolled my eyes a little. But as I’m here longer, I’m starting to think she was right.

Point 1: I had lunch with a complete stranger yesterday. Now, I’m one of the least social humans on the planet. I. Do. Not. Like. Strangers. But there I was, at the info desk asking the concierge about where to eat at the same time as someone else, and we just decided to go together. And it was a totally great experience, and I have to think there’s something about the culture of the conference that made that possible.

Point 2: I went up to a scholar after her panel to ask if any of her students might be interested in publishing in the special issue of Transformative Works and Cultures I’m guest editing, and she not only handed a copy of the CFP to her student but took one for herself. Maybe my expectations are really low from a number of bad experiences with Big Name Scholars (who shall remain nameless), but she totally treated me like a worthwhile human being!

Point 3: A professor from my university, who a) isn’t in my department and b) isn’t even on my committee (but who was my professor for a class once, two years ago) came up to me at the reception and asked who she could introduce me to. Faculty just don’t do that kind of stuff in my experience up until now. Don’t get me wrong; the professors in my department are amazing and will totally promote the bejeezus out of us, but we have to ask them.

And, it’s not related to the “professional organization as family” part, but I have really never been at a conference where so many of the people I see walking around are people whose work I not only know but admire. This indicates, I think, that this is the right kind of place for me to be hanging out.

This is all to say: I less than three AoIR! And I will be back any time it’s someplace I can afford to fly!

Addendum, October 13: The moderator for my panel carried my bag into the elevator when I didn’t have enough hands to wrangle it + breakfast, cuz she’d read my post and wanted to make sure I kept feeling welcome.

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