Reflections on EDUCAUSE

I actually parachuted in and out of EDUCAUSE, and I was my usual strange self at conferences. I really can’t seem to bring it together when I go to these things, my head space gets a bit confused and I withdraw a bit. I’m going to have to work on this. The session Gardner and I co-presented on Educational Publishing Platforms went pretty well, and that was all Gardner’s doing, He was in his best impromptu mode and he carried me beautifully through the presentation, for I was admittedly not on my game at all. The highlight, however, was a recorded conversation Gardner and I had later on Wednesday with Gerry Bayne about EDUPUNK. It was kind of a last minute arrangement, and it turned about to be a raucous, free-wheeling conversation that covered a tremendous amount of ground over the course of an hour. It’s after discussions like that that you know you are talking with a great teacher and an extremely generous intellectual soul. I’ll be looking back fondly on that moment for a while hereafter.

There is one more highlight that I am almost scared to admit, I was completed transfixed by the vendor section. It was huge and salespeople were hawking their wears in some crazy ways. The first cat I saw when I walked in was an HP salesman with a bright yellow blazer who was performing his pitch like a circus act. I then headed right over to the BlackBoard booth to find out how “Web 2.0” NG would prove to be, and from what I saw it is just a little bit of ajaz with a single-sign on adapter that provides links to Sakai and Moodle courses—what a strange reason to proclaim your openness so boldly before the first day of the conference, again! Nonetheless, I couldn’t help myself. And once I was in the commercial Gulf Stream I couldn’t stop thinking about that scene in Coppola’s The Conversation (1974) wherein Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) is walking around the various booths at a Surveillance Convention talking to random people, while at the same time you can see he is all at once visibly estranged, paranoid, and fascinated by the space he is wandering through. In fact, it is that walk through the vendor exhibits at EDUCAUSE that may stick with me longer than anything else, it was like watching a room full of Gatsby’s throw their last party. So in the interest of exorcism, I’ll reproduce the scene from The Conversation in which Coppola frames Harry Caul’s wonderful discomfort with the commercialized bastardization of the quality of his profession so that a few scheming, idea-stealing businessmen and women can make a few bucks 🙂

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3 Responses to Reflections on EDUCAUSE

  1. The whole vendor focus on the main EDUCAUSE conference is the big reason why I haven’t gone to one (yet?). I can see a small vendor showcase or sponsor’s demo room, but a vast conference centre for sales flacks to peddle their wares at edufolk who came to learn from each other? *shudder*

  2. Sue F. says:

    Love the link of cinema and theme here. The Conversation’s such a great work and this scene just nails it with a critique of the bastardized and banal. Perfect for much of the dynamic of a conference culture these days… and perfect timing for an exorcism. Happy Halloween.

  3. One of the greatest geek movies ever.

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