Sunday, March 20, 2011

What I Learned at the 2011 International Studies Association Meeting

I found it harder to blog at a conference in my town as I had to spend time commuting to and from, that I couldn't pop upstairs to my hotel room to nap and surf if I had a free moment, and the hotel's wifi was not so accessible.  So, today I will start to catch up--on learning what I missed and spewing about what I learned.  This post is for the latter.  Subsequent posts will address the stuff upon which (?) I am catching.

  • Lesson #1:  Get a smartphone.  So I can tweet, facebook, surf, email, blog, etc.  
  • Lesson #2:  Conferences at home are not so thrilling to the wife either--none of the advantages of me being away (less snoring) and most of the costs (piles of dishes, laundry).  
  • Lesson #3: Piracy rocks.  I didn't go to the panels on piracy (which are starting to multiply), but I was the chair of a panel where one of the paper-givers informed us how the Somali pirates split their booty: class A and class B stock classes, fixed fees, profit-sharing, etc.
  • Lesson #4: Pride can be good. Another participant on the aforementioned panel was a grad student of mine, presenting a spin-off of the dissertation research.  Something I had not read yet.  It was also the first time I saw her present non-dissertation stuff at a conference.  At the end of it, all I could think is that I am proud to be her adviser.  Rock on, Ora.
  • Lesson #5: Technology can be cool.  A friend suckered me into being a discussant at the last minute, so I read four papers that applied a variety of techniques to understanding our own business--who cites what, which works are associated with other works, and so on.  One paper dumped 26 years of IR journal articles into a program to find out which words are associated with others, developing word clouds associated with realism, liberalism, constructivism and such.  The key findings in the piece for opportunistic scholars are--the words that are associated with more citations and those associated with less (or the kiss of death as the authors put it).  Bad news for scholars who focus on NATO (oh no!).  Another paper on this panel used network analysis to understand citation patterns.
  • Lesson #6: Things tend to happen during this conferences: the UN resolution and the start of the air war against Qaddafi started while we were here.  Plus the continuing drama in Japan.  Reminded me of the APSA during Katrina.  I was pretty surprised by the UN resolution and I was not alone.  I will have to read the news and then consider it at the Spew.  The first thing that is interesting is--how NATO-ish* is this effort going to be?
* Yes, I am trying to minimize citations given my new understanding (see above).

  • Lesson #7:  I am pretty lucky.  I have built up without thinking a broad network of really smart, interesting, dynamic, curious, sharp and supportive colleagues/friends in the community of IR scholars.  Poker, panels, former jobs, ties to the old schools (Oberlin, UCSD), sections of the association (Foreign Policy Analysis, Ethnicity/Nationalism/Migration), and other events/meetings/opportunities have been most beneficial, not just to my citation patterns and to my conference schedules, but to my journey through this profession and through the years.  Thanks.

    No comments: