Overcoming Tote Bag Praxis

The TtW12 Twitter back channel. Photo by Rob WanenchakTheorizing the Web 2012 was great. Everyone involved did a bang-up job. I certainly learned more in a single day than I usually do at weekend-long establishment conferences. I have said a lot about conferences (herehere, and here) as have fellow cyborgologists (SarahNathan, and PJ). All of these posts have a common thread: academia is changing, but conferences seem out of date in some way. They are needlessly insular, they rely on hefty attendance fees that are increasingly cost-prohibitive,  and they rarely take advantage of social media in any meaningful way. The relative obduracy of conference styles come into high relief once they are compared to the massive changes to institutional knowledge production. Universities have adopted many of the managerial practices of private companies. They are also acting more like profit-seeking enterprises: putting massive resources into patenting offices and business incubators, hiring less tenure-track teaching staff, and employing armies of professionalized managers that run everything from information technology services to athletic facilities. Conferences, on the other hand, have seen few innovations beyond what I call Tote Bag Praxis. 

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