Tuesday, July 19, 2011

And Three TAM9 Complaints

Yesterday I posted my top ten list of TAM9 memories.  Herewith, three things I didn’t much care for:

Technical Glitches. Starting with the unfortunate disruption of George Hrab’s musical medley that started the conference, and running through nearly every presentation and panel, technical glitches were a constant part of the proceedings. They disrupted the flow, disconcerted the presenters and confused the spectators. Not only were there constant problems getting videos and slides to appear, whoever was running the A/V constantly switched from views of the presentations to the presenters and back again, making it difficult to comprehend what was going on in the slides (and don’t get me started on the awful, awful, AWFUL slides used by so many presenters. If your audience can’t comprehend what’s in a slide, DON’T USE IT!)

A Disappointing Dawkins. One of the things we were most excited about was seeing and hearing Richard Dawkins. My son James and I have both read virtually everything the man has written, and I’ve seen him speak passionately and so articulately via YouTube so many times. But I thought his speech at TAM was flat, passion-free and, let’s face it, a bit boring. Maybe he was worried about repercussions from his ‘contributions’ to the previous week’s kerfuffle, but he didn’t do much in the way of inspiring the next generation (although the illustrations in his forthcoming book look way cool).

Coffee! OK, I drink way more coffee than I should anyway, but why oh why did the coffee service keep disappearing from the room?  I mean, come on, we’re in Vegas, we’re all sleep-deprived, but we have this awesome non-stop lineup of presenters - all we need to keep awake and focused is a steady influx of caffeine. That's not too much to ask, right?

All in all, the good outweighs the bad by a huge margin. Hopefully they’ll get those technical details worked out for next year!


  1. There was a Seattle's Best in the lobby. You could have purchased enough coffee to get yourself through the day. I don't know of ANY conference that supplies free coffee for participants all day long and two breaks (w/snacks, no less) during the day is pretty generous.

    Regarding the technical glitches, again, far fewer than most conferences. They were usually fixed fairly quickly, even if they were the fault of the speaker (e.g., not speaking into the mic).

    The switches from speaker to slides were intentional. People in the back of the room cannot see the face of the presenter if the slides are always up. As for the slides, some people are good at creating visuals and some not, but organizers have nothing to do with it.

    Regarding Dawkins, I must give you this. I very nearly fell asleep. I find his speaking voice fairly boring as it is, but this time his talk was pretty boring, too. I mean, describing his new book? Not discussing it, describing it, as in "And it will include a chapter..." Ugh.

  2. I’m glad you agreed with me on the Dawkins speech - although it did occur to me after I posted that it’s probably not particularly fair to criticize the guy for not living up to MY expectations.

    On the coffee, I agree that coffee service is not generally available all day at every conference - I’m just sayin’ it would have been nice to at least have it available throughout the morning sessions (and nothing at TAM was ‘free,’ by the way - that’s what we paid registration fees for).

    But we’ll have to agree to disagree on the technical glitches. I attend a lot of trade shows and conferences, and it’s been a long time since I’ve been to one where the technical disruptions were so consistent. I’m not blaming the organizers - I would mostly point a finger at the Conference Center or the outside vendor I assume they used.

    Again, I loved the conference, and I am definitely planning to attend again next year. These were just some random thoughts, offered in the spirit of constructive criticism.