Sunday, April 6, 2008

5 Things I Learned at the Convention

Every field has its annual convention where practicioners meet and share their projects; conversations in the hallways can lead to new opportunities. I just came back from the Southern States Communication Association's annual meeting in Savannah, Georgia. There I made my first academic presentation on Hugo Chavez. Communication scholarship big kahuna Andy King, from LSU, declared it "brilliant". That encouragement will last me the rest of my life. Here are some things I learned at the convention.

1. Norwegian heavy metal rock bands mutilated animals on stage in the 1990's as a form of social protest. Apparently Norway's culture is highly conformist and people are not encouraged to be creative. Mutilating animals was one highly-visible response and the perpetrators blame Norway's church for this pyschic oppression. The leader of this movement is in jail for alleged murder.

2. Increasingly people are meeting their beloveds online. One professor married his online love over 5 years ago and now they are the happy parents of a child. He lives in Louisiana; she was in Latvia before marrying him.

3. No one knows exactly how blogging is changing society, but it is. There are now 10 million blogs on line. We are taking over the world (EVIL LAUGH)! Academics seem to fear this uncontrolled force.

4. A new term is in fashion: hetero-normalizing. For example, the practice in which the man gives his fiancee an engagement ring is a hetero-normalizing tradition. I give this example to show the power of words and the use of this term illustrates an increasingly influential world view.

5. Savannah, Georgia is spectacularly beautiful in the spring. The city embraces its post-colonial architecture and tradition while actively encouraging new design; the result is wonderful. The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is setting a fine example.

It was a great trip and I'm getting back to work on the dissertation. Happy Sunday!