Monday, August 29, 2011

Galatea 2.2: A Short Review

In 1999 I cracked open the book Galatea 2.2 by Richard Powers, wrote my name and the year in the upper righthand corner of the book and then never read another page. For years the book has followed me through moves, a marriage, a baby, the demolition of my hometown courtesy of a monster tornado, and here I am in 2011 - the year it finally felt right to start reading the book suggested to me by my favorite college professor, now deceased.

The story mixes science, computers, and the frailty and imagination of the human spirit with masterful language that reminds one of the power writers have over us in their possession of words and how to use them. Galatea 2.2 haunts, inspires, and mourns with us... or even through us.

Galatea 2.2 is perfect for me right now - a tale of a man broken down to the point of existential nihilism who finds stirrings of emotion and meaning within the AI and circuitry of a companion in the ether. The irony - that the intelligence in the computer might finally be more human that the protagonist - is not lost on me when I find myself struggling with spending more time with the people in my life than all my devices and gadgets.

Read this book if:

  • You love language
  • You are immersed in computers all day
  • You occasionally feel unnecessary in life
  • You really, really, really need a non-working vacation
RATING: 5 out of 5

Thursday, August 25, 2011

ASAE Annual Meeting Hits a Home Run

Every year that I attend the American Society of Association Executives' Annual Meeting it takes me a little while to let the experience settle into my pores before I can write up something about it. It's like writing a diary entry about camp when you know someone may read is critical to prioritize the biggest, most important pieces of the experience lest anyone get the wrong idea.

That said, abandon all hope ye who enter here. I'm still trying to pull my thoughts together, but I didn't want to wait any longer to start sharing some of the lessons I took away from the meeting.

Attending ASAE Annual is a big deal for me. ASAE is my professional home and I have made many wonderful friends through ASAE, many friends whom I meet up with at Annual. Sure, that I work as a consultant for DelCor, there is some awareness of meeting potential clients at Annual, but let's be clear. I attended Annual before I "went to the dark side" and the meeting is always going to be more like a summer camp for association folks like me.

This year it was an even bigger deal because we were in my home state of Missouri for Annual. My hometown of Joplin, Missouri was destroyed by an EF-5 Tornado earlier this year, so all of the work that various CVBs, vendors, ASAE, and especially YAP did for Joplin meant a lot to me.

This year I approached Annual with some goals based on previous experiences with the conference:

1. To work out every morning of the meeting, no matter what - past experiences with post-reception hangovers and walking pneumonia have made this goal especially important

Workout Day #1

2. To eat healthier foods during the meeting - not only does it fuel my brain, but it keeps me from post-conference regrets

3. To focus more on my own presentations and less on attending others - this is not my preference, but a necessary requirement because I stress out over any criticism I receive from speaking evaluations

4. To identify new ideas I can use for my work with associations

YAPstars UNITE for the YAP Party raising funds for Joplin!
5. To keep a better record of my expenses and receipts

 The conference was amazing for many reasons:
Kylee Coffman, my sister and RILA social media hottie, showing her ASAE Classic pose
  • The city of St. Louis put on a fabulous show of hospitality city-wide for us
  • The content of the sessions seemed to ring people's bells - mine included
  • The network of people in the association world is more like a family than some families I know
  • The ASAE staff were smart, fun, and helpful
  • The layout of the conference hall, events, and hotels made it easy to network nonstop
  • Twitter coverage of the conference was robust
  • The backchannels on G+ and Beluga that many of us were using for coordinating meeting areas and making inside jokes made for a fun way to stay involved while not cluttering up the conference Twitter feed
  • I was able to hang out with my sister, Kylee Coffman, a social media rockstar working for RILA more than I had in the previous 6 months
Workout - Day #3
 If I had to quibble about anything, it would be about these things: 
  • There was no room at the stable when a group of us tried to find any seats at the closing keynote lunch - too bad, too...I heard it was really good.
  • The mobile app needed help - working across platforms, including other important agenda events, etc...
  • Any small kind of - even free - effort to reach out to an audience virtually would have been great...something to help those who couldn't be there to see what they were missing
All-in-all, I thought ASAE showed they had listened to comments made by bloggers and attendees in the past. They did a phenomenal job and I enthusiastically approve of the way they handled things on site.

Many thanks to everyone who made this ASAE Annual Meeting phenomenal. I will definitely see all of you next year!

Workout - Day #2

Someone graffiti'd our session sign - cool, no? ;-)