Row 3, Column 2 from Kieran’s bingo card this year: “Eyeroll from Chronically Hip Grad Student.” But, let’s face it: eyerolling is such a meatspace maneuver anymore. If a speaker says something out-of-step with standpoint theory nowadays, are they really more likely to be met with an eyeroll, or met with younger scholars’ eyes darting down to their smartphone/tablet so they can tweet about it? Here is an alternative Bingo card that a couple Twitter users have made that better reflects their view about the social-media-augmented ASA.
Frankly, I don’t get the part in the authors’ post about how Kieran’s card “revealed much about the sociological discipline and the problems with the annual meetings.” Kieran’s cards seems to me to involve some gentle ribbing here and there, but overall don’t exactly provoke the possibility that there might be something basically wrong–or, at least, decreasingly viable–about the conference.
On the other hand, the Twitter card does seem to raise what may be a basic problem — which is that, for many-such-people much-of-the-time, sitting still and simply listening to somebody talk about their work for fifteen minutes is no longer enough on its own. I could deliver an avuncular tsk-tsk about that, but it would be completely hypocritical given my own lately-regrettable record of panel attendance and tendencies toward junkie-style surreptitious smartphone-checking if my attention has wandered and I have the opportunity. If folks are talking about reading a few tweets from a session as a substitute for attending it, you know, maybe we should start reconsidering the prolonged reciprocal captive-audience model on which conferences like ASA are based?
Anyway: I wonder if there is going to be intergenerational tension in the coming years about the etiquette of in-session tweeting. I don’t have any problem with it, and seems like something everybody will need to get used to regardless. But I can see where others might see it as being like passing notes during a talk, only if those notes were posted on a giant whiteboard behind the speaker so that everybody but her could read them. More broadly, though, I wonder if people will start to question the default model of organizing sessions as a series of people having the floor for 15-20 minute turns of talk.