S. Worthen (owlfish) wrote,
S. Worthen

Notes from Leeds

Conferencing is really all about the people. Put you, your colleagues, and people whose work is tangentially in your field all together in one place at one time, and various kinds of chemistry happens. Ideas are the glue that holds it all together - the papers are grist for the mill of conversation and connection.

Yet by any standards, this has been a quiet conference for me so far, the first half the calm before the frenzy. I spent half of Monday with ten other people at the fabulous medieval cooking workshop, and the rest of the day polishing off my paper. In the bubble of preparation, I've been to fewer sessions than usual and thus met fewer people. There are all sorts of people I know are at this conference and who I've yet to locate. It's been good for catching up with Toronto folk, getting to know some of the workshop people better, and making highly unexpected connections. (retsuko! I met ladybird97!)

I have been to a few sessions along the way, however. I went to an admirably accessible paper on weights and measures. It's hard to give a good metrology talk. I went to a talk which showed me whole new ways of using legal contracts for analyzing commerce not mentioned in them. I learned about some oddball Finnish dishes, and a phenomenal piece of Chinese sculpture, a work of multiple semi-precious stones sculpted into the shape of a pork dish and held in the inner sanctum of the Imperial Palace. I learned that I can understand the names of all sorts of animals in Spanish, even though I've never studied Spanish at all.

Best of all, the weather has been lovely, sunny but not too warm. This is particularly wonderful at this particular conference, since to go between the two major sites of the conference involves a ten minute walk across fields. It is so civilized that they do not happen to be muddy fields this year.

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