I think I’m still coming down from a conference high. Despite the backlog of email and reference requests that awaited me upon my return, I’m extremely happy that I was able to attend #ncph2012. My thoughts about specific sessions and networking opportunities I attended can be seen in previous posts.
What did you get out of the trip? A question that could also be phrased as “was it worth us spending the money to send you?”
The conference provided me with a sense of perspective on my own work and career path. Despite being what NCPH classifies as a new professional (albeit I’m just on the tail end of that description), talking with professionals who have been in the field slightly longer than myself made me appreciate the breadth of experience I’ve gained in recent years. This realization combined with being asked for advice by other public history professionals in recent months has helped me realize the mutual benefit of sharing experiences and continuing to seek a variety of development opportunities.
I live in rural Northern Ontario, while my home has a breathtaking landscape I feel at times disconnected from larger professional community. The conference helped reinforce the fact that a large public history community does indeed exist, and that I’m not floating alone on a iceberg somewhere. The conference also allowed me to meet and build on digital relationships that I’ve made over the past couple of years.
Attending #ncph2012 allowed me to get a sense of what type of sessions and what type of presentation formats might work well for ncph2013. I attended sessions that included formal reading of papers without any visuals, powepoint presentations, roundtable discussions, and sessions which actively attempted to get the session attendee’s to participate in discussion. Each type of format has distinct advantages. Personally I found the sessions which were less traditional and more focused on engaging discussion far more valuable.
Lastly, but perhaps most tangibly #ncph2012 introduced me to a variety of new ideas, examples of successful projects, techniques for evaluation of unsuccessful initiatives. I’ve returned to work with a number of projects and open source initiatives that I want to learn more about (and now know the names of people to contact if I want more information). The focus of these projects range from community building to crowdsourcing to basic exhibit development to building a successful oral history program. Granted, ideas are great but putting them into practice is an entirely different matter – but learning about new things is bound to be the first step towards progress.