The fall semester took me to many amazing places and gave me the the opportunity to give two public talks.
In mid-November, I was at LPTS (Linguistic and Psycholinguistic approaches to Text Structuring) in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. I was a presenter in the “pop culture” session along with Maicol Formentelli and Yukiko Nishimura. I’ve been reading Nishimura’s work for a long time, and it was a pleasure to meet her and interact with her – we bonded during the conference because we were the two people who were farthest from our homes. At my talk, I used Prezi, and was the only person to present using something other than PowerPoint. The presentation style impressed more people than my talk did, I think — I had to spend a LOT of time giving background on online gaming and the setup of the game, because I realized that the majority of the scholars I was talking to were not at all familiar with online gaming. However, several people were interested in the particular concept I was talking about, even if not necessarily the medium, so I had many very interesting discussions about broader applicability.
The second was my guest talk at Hunter College in New York City at the beginning of December. It was the first time that I got the pleasure of presenting to an audience the entire scope of my World of Warcraft ethnography project. I couldn’t present everything, but I got the chance to do a big overview, which was an exciting thing for me. I got the chance to use Prezi for this too, which amazed a lot of the younger folks present, and gave me the opportunity to create what I think is one of my best-looking Prezis yet. At this talk, I think the medium was more interesting to the audience than the particular topics, which is entirely different than my talk at LPTS.
Both presentations gave me the opportunity to present different aspects of my work — the details of the phenomena I study as well as the general behaviors of the community in the ethnography — which really helped me figure out the Big Picture of what I’m working on. This is the benefit of doing presentations, I think, instead of working on your own; engaging with an audience, no matter the size or composition, provides interesting new viewpoints and can help the presenter create a narrative about their own work. Sometimes I get lost in what I’m doing, and having outside eyes helps me structure my work and the way to show it to others.