Do you go to conferences? Boy, I do.
One of the greatest aspects of conference-going is meeting people you might have known only on the ether, putting a face to the avatar.
Here, for example, is author Chuck Wendig, whom I’ve met several times at conferences. Both of us normally have some traveling to do, to reach a conference. Wendig writes in 25 Things Writers Should Know About Traveling:
Travel is good for us. Seeing other places and people and cultures makes us more complete as human beings. The fact that it is useful to our word-herding is almost secondary to how useful it is to us as people, not just as people who sling stories for a living.
Whether you travel to get there or not, there’s an interesting dimension to meeting in person after initially knowing someone online. In my experience, the two personas persist, never quite reconciled. Intellectually, you know this is one person, the same person, just in two forms, tangible and virtual. In actual practice, though, there’s a subtle divide. It’s always cool to meet. But sometimes, as you shake hands, you find yourself looking forward to getting back to them online. It’s what you’re used to.
At Grub Street’s Muse 2013 in Boston, May 3 through 5, I’ll have the pleasure of meeting several Unboxed colleagues for the first time IRL (in real life).
Our Therese Walsh, Vaughn Roycroft, and Sharon Bially will be speaking, and I’m looking forward to their panel, “Strength in Numbers: The Power of Online Communities.” That’s surely all of us here at Writer Unboxed—strong, numerous, communal, and powerfully online.
And like the several faces of online+offline cohorts, conferences, themselves, can be highly communal events for their attendees. Familiar, regular conferences function like Brigadoons, each rising out of the mist for a busy wearin’ o’ the nametags, then settling into memory’s vapors. [Read more…]