Crocodile guilt

An interesting quote from Mark Bernstein about why conferences aren’t such fun places these days:

Still more fundamentally, the mass of guilt that weighs upon the field deadens our conferences. That guilt arises from the divergence of what we like from what we think we should like. We enjoy exciting new systems that do what nothing else could do; we think we should like systematic demonstrations that this widget lets students do a task 5% faster than that one. We enjoy daring prototypes and agile development; we think we should be planning our work and proving correctness. We enjoy astonishing code; we think we should write code so clear that our most mediocre students (and the management team) will grasp it without effort.

Maybe it’s wishful thinking but maybe some of that guilt comes from our lack of attention. Nowadays it is so easy to be physically present, yet mentally worlds away. With wifi & mobile service, you can be happily IMing or Twittering about the speaker with the monotone delivery anywhere.

So to that guy that was sitting next to me, typing madly and muttering to himself, during a really interesting session, I wished your batteries died and you lost all network connections and your pen ran out of ink. Time to face the present champ.

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