Sunday, May 25, 2008


Wrapped up my first ever RSA late this afternoon with a role on O.09 on textual machinery and the interrelationship of agency and automation. Good company, smart papers, and an alert, question-raising audience: what more can you ask for? My list of (entirely self-inflicted) concerns is short, but I left with the sense that I fumbled through parts of the Q&A. Nothing horribly embarrassing. Just rambly-schmambly, swing-and-miss kinds of half-answers. There was a lot of rich conversation during the Q&A, but, frankly, I would like to have do-over tokens for some of it. Another do-over: while I was giving my paper, I was so distracted by the fact of not having water at hand that I was focused on the moisture levels in my throat almost to the total neglect of what I was saying.

Once rested, maybe I can push on through a couple of blog entries that will make up for some of my loafing through it today: on the long tail of citation freq., on automation/agency rel. to colloids and compounds, on letting concepts get away from us (or being understood as if). Or not (like I really need to promise more phantom EWM entries?). For now, I will drain a Lazy Boy IPA to celebrate the end of the 07-08 conferencing tour and then look ahead to enjoying another two days of visiting with family before jetting back to CNY.

Bookmark and Share Posted by at May 25, 2008 11:30 PM to Unspecified

You know, it was at my first RSA four years ago that I had the best Q&A I ever had. It was a true group conversation. Like you, though, I thought of much better ways to answer questions afterwards.

Posted by: Nels at May 26, 2008 11:13 AM


Enjoyed your talk even if I'm not sure I grasped what the significance of such work will be yet. Although, as a still-relatively novice grad, I take your point for the distant reading as a pedagogical tool--who was saying what and when and that would be very valuable info for some struggling as I do still to make sense of trends in the field.

FWIW, any distraction you felt was not evident as hearer of your talk, but (on an unrelated note) I'm not really sure how your talk fit in with the other two panelists' work on bots.


Posted by: Mike at May 27, 2008 8:30 PM

That's right, Nels. I have much much better answers now, a couple of days too late. Of course, for most, conference memories are quite short-lasting.

Mike: It was good to meet you, and I'm glad to hear that you thought my talk went okay. Distant reading of disciplinary archives, such as journals, isn't especially widely practiced. In many cases, journals farm the database out to a proprietary curator. The strongest justification of this stuff for my work is that it generates what I have been calling "network sense," and this gives us tangible ways of reckoning with the ways we ourselves are constitutive of and participating in these networks, new and old (in hindsight, my answer to Jeff's question would have gone more directly to these ideas).

Good to know that my distraction didn't show through. At the halfway point, I was thinking about calling a timeout and walking around the table to grab the cup of water I forgot over where I had been sitting.

And as for the ties between my work and Krista and John: the problem of agency and automation was the sticker in the proposal. We wanted to look at the ways produced texts help us get at some of the new/emerging complications where automation and agency blend and blur conventional sensibilities about human or machine as agentive.

Posted by: Derek at May 28, 2008 3:41 PM