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Back for long enough to say that I'm very glad I didn't submit a paper to the Digital Arts and Culture conference being held this week in Melbourne. And I feel bad for the people who did, who are being publicly excorciated by one of the conference organizers in the public conference blog right now. Imagine how the "emerging researchers" referenced here must be feeling. (Horrors! Academics wanting to cite a slew of useful references?) Or how about the misguided authors who wanted their images to appear in a specific place in their texts? Apparently "digital arts" don't (or shouldn't) allow for such precision.

Even if these struck me as valid complaints--which they don't--I'm disturbed by their public nature. There are some things, it seems to me, that really ought to be limited to private exchanges rather than public posting.

5 TrackBacks

I wanted to address Adrian's rash list of things he would do differently the next time, and Elizabeth Lane Lawley's harsh statement that she is very glad she did not submit a paper. I will however not touch this issue beyond stating that even before th... Read More

Mea Culpa from melbourneDAC on May 14, 2003 9:41 PM

Blogs can be volatile, can't they? One of the my 'things I'd do differently' posts has stirred things quite a bit. There was another one, which stirred things even more which I have removed because yes, it ought not to have been written and published b... Read More

Sheesh, my list of things I'd do differently has caused a minor flurry in some academic blog circles. The major and most interesting commentary seems to be from Liz's original comments. Sometimes I think the ivory tower thing gets a bit much. Each seme... Read More

Stirring the Possum from vog blog::vlog 2.0 on May 15, 2003 8:34 AM

Sheesh, my list of things I'd do differently has caused a minor flurry in some academic blog circles. The major and most interesting commentary seems to be from Liz's original comments. Sometimes I think the ivory tower thing gets a bit much. Each seme... Read More

Ethics from vog blog::vlog 2.0 on August 8, 2003 4:25 AM

There is often a lot said in the blogosphere about ethics. Something I wrote in the DAC blog some time ago got a, probably justifiable, serve, and it is something that is important for such a public form of writing that also offers itself as commentary... Read More


I dunno, other than the references thing (which did seem goofy), it didn't read so badly to me. The guy wasn't saying that the conference papers or their presenters sucked, just that he could have done something so that the papers were better-focused.

I must sheepishly confess that I understand his gripe about graphics, having helped typeset one or two conference proceedings. The kind of stuff you are expected to make do with is just *unreal*.

I agree with Adrian on the question of graphics.

Some page formats require floating illustrations. That's just the way it is; if you want the book to have a uniform design, you need some conventions for typography and layout.

On references: people ding me all the time over using too many references :) I think you've got the right diagnosis: too many hours tweaking the formatting, not enough sleep, makes conference organizers grouchy.

I don't know why Torill describes your comments as harsh!
I agree with you that the comments are too public regardless if they are valid or not. I am sure Adrian will re-post and make it clear that without fresh blood that flows wild in too many directions, there would be no DAC the way we know it and want it.

When the DAC conference first took place, one of the important motivations behind it was to encourage and give young young "emerging" researchers a space to speak up and participate in together with those who are established in the field. I think this is what made the conference so special - DAC aimed to provide a warm, inclusive and supportive atmosphere for all participants regardless of their level of competence.

Adrian comments therefore sort of stung a bit for many of us... Young researchers more often than not are insecure about their papers and presentations. Now they are publicly tagged as newbies with too many goals and too many references, and by the way, they are not the right references either.And darned it! Can they EVER get their pictures right??
The conference is just about to happen. These people have a major presentation coming up: a stylish powerpoint (not quite done, mind you!) inside their computer, brand new shiny shoes and attire in their suitcase and a freshly printed contact card in their pocket. But the dead give away, alas, is .... too many references. Ack! Life sure is hard sometimes.

I am sure Adrian is doing a great job organizing the conference and I wish I could be there this year, because I also know that all the Emerging and the Already Emerged together will make DAC the sizzling, flowing river of discoveries it should be.

And I'm hoping that on his "differently next time" list, Adrian would add "open up the conference blog for comments".

I can't speak to the validity of the comments themselves. But certainly the timing seems rude. It hardly seems hospitable to publicly post complaints just as people are landing on your doorstep. Why not wait until after the conference? at which point one could say something nice about how wonderfully things went, but then say, Here are a few things I'd do differently next time?

i would put Adrian's comments into the arena of voicing and sharing a learning experience. they are as such not meant to be rude, but they are meant to reiterate a set of norms and social understandings that undergird the ability to publish material in standardized formats. having run into this barrier many times myself, i sympathize with the frustrations and hope they allow others to understand the situation more broadly.

Jeremy, I have no argument with the approach you describe. I am troubled--deeply--by the timing and public nature of the comments.

If the comments are intended to help authors before they give their presentations, they should be given privately. And those norms should be conveyed far earlier in the process.

If the comments are intended to guide people in future conferences, they could have been saved until after the presentations. As it is, they serve to undermine the confidence those who most need encouragement ("emerging researchers") at an extremely awkward time.

mainly, you have to understand that organising an event of this size is a stressful and (largely) thankless job - at least until the dinner, when hopefully everyone buys you a drink ;)

also - comments posted in public (as opposed to say , a group email) can be read by anyone, not just the people who submitted papers. something that would seem to be of value given the comments above re previous experience trying to put together proceedings.

but the most ironic thing i find is that a digital arts and culture conference needs to have papers (grin)... but such is the requirement of federal funding etc it seems. besides - who doesn't like to have a book to read at these kinds of things? it's great if the design of that book is nice too.

PS. graphic/communication design of compiled documents is largely about each section conforming to a style for the good of the greater document - so that the design becomes invisible, and the info is easily accessed.

on the whole... (massive generalisation warning ;) people working with digital (particularly screen based) media don't really grok book design: which isn't a problem as that's not their bag... until they need to layout a document so that it can easily be incorporated into a compilation of others.

woops, have i ranted?.. sorry.

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