Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Prepping the preliminary presentation

I'm taking a break from the presentation prep. My mentor in grad school once remarked that (just like he) if I were given a one week deadline, I'd spend a week on a project; but if I were given a month, it'd take me a month. If I were busier, I'm sure this presentation would long be done. It's not that I don't have work. I'm really thrilled with how I've been filling my plate with delicacies. And, on top of that, I'll be teaching again this fall.

But, this conference presentation is a big one for me. It's the first time I'll be presenting at a conference for which I was especially sought after. I've been invited to give talks before, but either by my own initiative ("Hey, if you're looking for a speaker...") or because my mentor was involved in the organization somehow. I was even interviewed by the BBC a few years ago on the subject of my dissertation, but again at the suggestion of my mentor.

This one is different. I was contacted out of the blue, before the CfP went out, recommended by someone I've never met, and asked if I would participate. They're providing the funds to cover my expenses. And I'll be interviewed again for the radio, this time in a studio, rather than a cafe, to further discuss my research.

The only hitch is a tinge of uncertainty. See, the presentation and the interview both involve my longitudinal study, which if you were readers of my old blog you might know has more in common with the Wright Brothers' bicycles, than their proof of flight. That is, it's somewhat grounded.

No guilt. No self-doubt. This is my project. It's a worthy one. It's one, which finally is getting some due attention. I worry just a bit that I'll be unmasked. Truth be told, I haven't landed any funding for it yet. (That's no secret!) In part, the project awaits greater stability in my life. Besides the difficulties in running a self-funded, longitudinal, human subjects study without permanent affiliation, there's the little matter of making sure six or ten months down the road, I'll still be able to keep it going with the subjects who began it. Otherwise, it's not very longitudinal now, is it?

For now, I have a mere smattering of data, and a mass of ideas, citations, reflections, motivations, challenges. I'll be presenting the foundation of this effort. The conference talk has always been planned to be a "preliminary report". It's just, let's say, a bit more preliminary than I would have liked.

That said, there are (longer term) some direct applications related to the technology-related work I'm engaging in. It's exciting to pull these disparate things together. That's me, at my best, the synthesist. Not worrying so much about impressing the appropriate folks in the appropriate ways has freed me up to just do my work, to feel excited by it again. To just drive, even without a map. I've never been a convertible type, but I love to feel the wind, not knowing in advance just when or where I'll turn. Road tripping through life. This is fun!

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