I went to a conference the other day, about intellectual property in cyberspace and all that. The experience turned out to be quite surreal.
When I entered the building, there were only three people standing around. One of them were shouting commands, seemingly to a technician that I couldn’t see; as with all conferences, Murphy’s law was upon them. This went on for a while. I was quietly sitting at one end of the auditorium. I didn’t really know anyone there and wasn’t in the mood to network, so I decided to just wait for the show. On stage, nothing was happening, though.
Half an hour had gone by, and there was still not much happening on stage. Some people, who looked like technicians, would show up now and again, but disappear just as quickly. While waiting, I almost dosed off. My head was slowly sinking towards my chest when, with a jerk, I woke up again — looked around as if nothing had happened. By this time, there were more people in the auditorium, many of them complaining loudly about what seemed to be shoddy organizing. Then, presto, as if out of nowhere, the keynote speaker suddenly appeared on stage. Apparently, enough time had been wasted so he went straight into his talk.
Although the talk was interesting, I found myself drifting. There were so many weird characters at this conference, so I couldn’t help look around. Sure, we don’t need to wear suits at conferences these days but this is ridiculous, I thought to myself upon noticing an older gentleman with short shorts. Behind me, there was a woman wigh a huge bloody hat on — flowers and all. As if the presence of all these characters weren’t enough, a number of the participants were half asleep and many were discussing things loudly that had nothing to do with the lecture. I felt like I was back in primary school.
While trying to understand what kind of weird conference I was attending, a friend of mine messaged me and asked where I was. “I’m at this crzy cnfrnce. Lots of weeeird ppl. It’s free, so come by if u want”. Sure enough, my friend showed up a few minutes later. In general, I must admit I’m not completely used to Dutch manners, yet (I’m originally from Norway, but work in the Netherlands now). Still, I was quite suprised when my Dutch friend came through the doors and strolled down the aisle mid-lecture with clogs on!!! That’s right, huge bloody wooden shoes. He sat down next to me, and I couldn’t help but feel slightly embarrased by the spectacle he was making. He shouted, so the whole auditorium could hear, “what’s all this then?”. I don’t know if it was to prove a point or not, but at the other end of the auditorium, a woman shouted back “a lecture about intellectual property”. Weird, I thought, but this was when things started becoming even weirder. Suddenly, I felt like I was having problems seeing the stage. My vision was getting blurry! What the heck is happening? As this happened, I heard people around my make the same complaints. One man shouted “I can’t hear anything”, the woman with the flowery hat behind me shouted “Even worse, I can’t see anything”. People started getting out of their seats, run out for a moment, and come back in again. The guy who had been shouting to the invisible technician started shouting again. My friend said “This sucks. I’m outta here”. I was sitting there trying to figure out what the heck was going on. It was at this point the shout-to-invisible-technician-man got up on stage and shouted to all of us. “If you want to see the lecture again, you have to press stop and then start on your quicktime players”. Second Life conferences are weird.