In less than half a week, I'll be in L.A. for the 2007
conference on technology and disabilities. In other words, I'll be geeking out, and hopefully having fun within all that learning. The thing is, I have mixed feelings about it. I'm basically going to be asking my mind and body to perform at very high levels. I'm going to have to learn routes (which I should remember from last year but may not), be three hundred places at once, deal with flying and what that will do to my already high and angry pain levels and somewhere in there think clearly enough to occasionally contribute to discussions that inevitably happen at conferences like this. Lest we all forget, this is the conference in which pain levels increased to the point where I vomitted just before going on the plane. While it's apparently a great illustration of what a hangover would be like if I drank, I don't drink, and don't need those symptoms.
So why, then, am I putting myself through this? I mean, I can geek out any time. And as excited as I am to see new technotoys and shiny stuff, a lot of it will be here for the
convention in a few months anyway.
As much as I know I will learn, I could just mooch off other people who go and ask what they learned. I could learn by running searches for blog posts about the conference, (though I don't know that there's a standard tag that people are using, so that may be harder). I could hope for good audio coverage, or podcasts, or whatever. And I'd learn a lot.
I'd also love to escape the colder weather here for some place warmer. But if I want warmth, I can go to Mexico or some other stereotypical spring break outing. And one could also argue that I will see a lot less of the warm weather than I'd expect because I'll be in sessions and such all day.
There were a lot of advantages to CSUN last year though, and I'm excited to experience them again. There was
a post on Creating Passionate Users
thanks go to
who's blog roll pointed me to the blog in the first place. Anyway, the post talked about several of the benefits of face to face interaction.
I think it may have interesting implications when dealing with disability issues. It's much much easier for me to read about an accessibility practice than to put it into practice. I can read numerous blogs on the subjects of accessibility, disability, technology, health and even some on dealing with pain. But I can't learn as fully. Reading about Clicker would not have worked nearly as well as the intensive workshop and watching
work with Rainy. And my thinking has been drastically shaped by experiences and conversations I had at CSUN last year.
In the post I linked to, the enthusiasm and passion for the subject is stressed. That's definitely true for me. I find that I know more, and want to know more. The more I hear, the more I want to hear. In other words, I find that other people's excitement about these topics rubs off. And I come backw ith new ideas. Which is vital when trying to advocate, even if only on a personal level. I don't use computers the same way every other blind person does. I have my own quirks. And hearing the ways others do things gets me out of my self-imposed box.
I do wish more people could participate in these conferences. The costs are prohibitive, perhaps mostly for those who need to be able to go most. I like some of the suggestions in the above linked post. The social connections are vital, even if I tend to prefer the control I have over my laptop. If I'm feeling sick, it's easy to switch positions without any of you knowing. Maybe some of you can tell how I feel even when I don't write it, but I do think a lot of you that can know me off line. I like that control. I like that if I'm biting my lip, no one else knows it. If I am drinking ginger ale, no one knows. If I'm practically dancing for joy over something no one would understand, I don't have to try to explain it.
And let's face it; technology is liberating. I am liberated by the ability to read others' thoughts quickly and efficiently. I am liberated by the chance to share more of myself than I would if I met you on a street corner (and if I met you on a street corner, I'd be more likely to say "be quiet so I can hear the traffic please"). But I don't want to forget the benefits of face to face communication. We learn a lot and grow a lot through blogging, writing and even surfing random
tags (not that I do that last one or anything). Even with all my nerves, I am really excited about next week, and I know thatI'm going to come back even more enthused.
One other aspect that is great about conferences? The friends. This is one of the best things for me. It does get crazy, and sometimes you're litterally going "hi" in the halls, and that's it. But it is so cool to be able to see people in person.
is great, but it's still not as good as seeing people in person.
I am realizing that i'm starting to ramble. But basically, this is my "Yay, CSUN is coming!!!!!!!!!!!!" post. I now return you to your regularly scheduled friends pages and rss readers.