I’m always amazed at conventions by the people I meet. On panels, sure: it’s a pleasure and privilege to chat with the other panelists about the topic of the hour, and I’m not surprised to meet smart, accomplished, articulate panelists. But the people I talk to in the hallways, the vendors, and the folks who end up going out to dinner together are, as often as not, also smart and articulate and accomplished. One gentleman at the convention — I never did get his name — is a math historian, who had just published a book about math in the Americas in the 1500s. How is that for a fascinating subject? [Edited to add: Michael suggests that this was Bruce Stanley Burdick.]
My favorite panel was undoubtedly the “Alternative Energy” panel, which I shared with Drew van Zandt, Ed Bishop, and Tom Wysmuller (who endeared himself to me by not only preparing a short subject-appropriate slideshow, but also by bringing along his own projection equipment just in case). One hour is too short for such a broad topic, but we hit on low-energy- and resourse-consuming houses, what a non-fossil-fuel-based future might look like, the need for better batteries (and electric transmission technologies), research on safer and more efficient fission by the Generation IV International Forum, and the challenges of energy for driving cars. (While we were chatting about it, the participants in the Boston Greenfest 1-gallon challenge were attempting to drive from Greenfield MA to Boston on a single gallon of gas.)
Tom also has been getting out the word on how global warming is changing the artic — keep an eye out for his presentations.
I was bowled over by the writing of horror writer Joy Marchand (I don’t read horror as a rule, but I may have to make an exception! If only to discover what happens at the end of “Black Annis”, published in the anthology Unspeakable Horror). I also learned quite a lot about podcasting technologies from Morven Westfield (who podcasts Vampires, Witches, and Geeks). Also: I met some open source software heroes and learned a tremendous amount about American foxhunting from a woman named Margaret. It was really pretty fascinating.
PS. The image is a Wordle. Click on it for a bigger, clearer, image.