panel 2 panel

4S PlenaryI’m back from Montréal, having had a good but curt time in la belle province. 4S (image of the plenary at R, more available here) was, to be honest, hit and miss; some panels were dull as television, and some others were painful to watch due to speaker-unpreparedness. Sometimes I wonder about the fine line between sociology and fannying about.

However, I saw some great presentations, too. I very briefly met Ron Eglash and Tarleton Gillespie, who’ve both written recent must-reads in my area, and got an earful of value out of their panel on appropriating technology. I also took in some interesting debate about bioethics, particularly as regards the personhood or patenthood (I’m making that expression up of course) of genetically modified organisms. And while these debates sorely lacked any real progressive ethical opinions about animal welfare (about which I tried to chime in but was squarely edged out of the ring by the ushers of positivism masked as dispassion), they were certainly stimulating conversations. At least, that was my reading of the situation…The most important question that I came out of the conference with, pertinent to my research, that is, was, “is music like other forms of knowledge? can we study it in the same way scientific knowledge is studied?” If I follow this path, it would situate my dissertation research squarely between fan/amateur studies and STS. I’ll tentatively suggest those as comprehensive areas and start exploring from there, I think.

Anyway, I’m rambling without naming names. One of the best outcomes of this conference is that I seem to have overcome my fear of flying. Out of the three flights it took to get there and back, I endured about two hours’ worth of turbulence without so much as stiffening up. It was fun again, like when I flew as a kid – sort of like a low key amusement park ride.

And now, AOIR…the command centre is built, the stations are being assigned, parties are being canceled, and the internet research community is about to swoop down on our unsuspecting, digitally-divided city. I’m still pulling my presentation together, but it should generate the feedback I need at this early stage of research. Hope to see some of you there!

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