IAM Encounter: On conferences and NYC
2 March 2009 1 Comment
This will be the first in a series of entries parsing my thoughts from the International Arts Movement‘s Encounter 2009 conference.
I’ve attended a number of conferences and trade shows over the past six years — from two days to one week, a few hundred participants to 30,000 attendees. My wife and I agreed before I left for New York that paying for these kind of events is more or less a crapshoot. You don’t know if it will actually be of value until you get there. You pay to register, transport yourself to the venue, pay for hotel and food and hope for the best.
I’ve learned that such conferences, despite all of their planning with seminars, plenaries and exhibit halls, are best for organic networking. IAM Encounter was no different. Yes, I gleaned some good stuff from the seminars and even the plenaries — which, for the most part, exceeded my expectations — but the meat of the conference was in the people I met in the hallways and bookstore.
On New York City
I was actually a tad nervous prior to my first time in the Big Apple, for some irrational reason. The whole thing went off without a hitch, even though I ticked off the bus driver who drove me from the Newark Airport into the city. In my defense, he was in a bad mood before we left the airport.
That first experience interested me though, in that my uncle previously expressed how nice New Yorkers were in his opinion, at least compared to Chicago-ans. I was always skeptical of his assessment, mainly because people like he and I who haven’t lived in either of these cities get very limited exposure to a reasonable cross-section of the community. That said, most people in the Big Apple were personable; the exception seemed to be transit workers (even beyond the aforementioned bus driver).
The city is much dirtier than I expected. It was encased in a brownish-yellow dome of smog, so much so that I had to squint from the airplane in order to actually see the skyline as we flew into Newark. I was surprised at the volume of trash littering streets and subways, although with such a concentration of people in such a small area I shouldn’t have been.
I was In all likelihood comparing the actual city to my impressions of it in TV and film. I spent time in the Upper East Side, Midtown, Downtown, Chelsea and Tribeca, which barely scratches the surface of the metro but isn’t a cloistered experience wither. None of the neighborhoods looked like sets from Seinfeld or Friends that I could recall. Then I remembered hearing a number of years ago that a lot of movies set in New York City are actually filmed in Toronto, mainly because it’s similar in appearance and a lot cleaner.