19 December 2010

AGU Fall Meeting 2010: Thursday Dec. 16 and wrap-up

Posted by Jessica Ball

Sorry for the delay in posting about my last day at the conference – I had planned to spend my time at the SF airport writing my last post, but instead I spent four hours waiting in line to get on a Southwest flight that dead-ended in Chicago. Spending the night on the Midway airport floor is not something I’d recommend for a post-meeting relaxation technique!

At any rate, Thursday was my last day at the Fall Meeting, and I took it at a fairly leisurely pace. I spent the morning doing a little blogging and visiting the exhibit hall, which was well worth a few hours.

In the afternoon, I joined Maria-José Viñas (the public information coordinator at AGU who’s been instrumental in getting the AGU Blogosphere going!) to listen to her talk about “Fostering science communication via direct outreach by scientists”, and then dashed across the hall to participate in the direct result of that outreach, the “Blog About It” science blogging workshop. I was joined by a great group of geobloggers: Erik Klemetti (Eruptions), Anne Jefferson and Chris Rowan (Highly Allochthonous), Brian Romans (Clastic Detritus), and Cian Dawson (Point Source). I was very impressed by the outcome of the workshop; we had a great audience, including a number of other geobloggers (Callan Bentley of Mountain Beltway, Andrew Alden of About.com Geology, and Lee Allison of Arizona Geology). As befitted a workshop about blogging, we had a little trouble getting our web-based slide show to load up, but once we got into the discussion things rolled along quite nicely. My own contribution was to talk about blogging as a grad student, and how it can both be helpful to and complicate life, but we ranged over topics from how to build commenter communities to what to do when you don’t know everything about your subject matter (a perpetual state for most of us!) to how to separate your blogging life from your professional one. We had lots of great questions – some from folks who I hope we will all see blogging soon! – and even had participation via a live webcast, which will hopefully be archived and available for viewing soon.

I managed to make one set of talks following the workshop (and post-workshop beer): “Looking Backward and Forward: Volcanology in 2010 and 2020”. The session was full of volcanology superstars like Steve Sparks, Don Dingwell, Kathy Cashman, Bill Rose, and Tom Casadevall (who also gave the Wednesday morning press conference on volcanic ash and aircraft hazards), and what talks I saw were nice overviews of the state of volcanology ten years ago and today. A little less technical than some of the other volcanology sessions, but appropriate for the theme of the session.

Afterwards, Callan and geo-tweeter @ugrandite joined me and some more William & Mary alums for an impromptu “Alumni Dinner” at a local Irish pub – but not before we took a commemorative photo with the AGU Blogosphere poster!

We retired early – anticipating a Friday of traveling across the country – and eventually made it home from a whirlwind of a meeting. Like any big conference, there were high and low points (and it was quite exhausting), but all in all I think it went fairly well. (I can’t count the experience of traveling to and from the meeting, because both trips were miserable, and I really hope that AGU might entertain the possibility of holding the conference in a different location or at a different time of year. I doubt it will happen, though). I couldn’t have asked for a better poster session, I got to see a lot of old friends and make some new acquaintances, and I had the great experience of bridging the scientist-media divide. We’ll see if I get to repeat the experience next year!