It’s day one of my recovery from a whirlwind trip to Philadelphia. ISTE 2011 was everything I expected and more! But I made some mistakes while there–mistakes I hope to learn from. So I begin my mental cleansing with reflecting on mistakes at conference. I should know better. Maybe next time, now that I’ve written it down, I will.
Mistake 1: Bad shoes.
Every time I read from experienced ISTE attendees about how to ensure a great conference, a reoccurring tip was in reference to comfortable shoes. Now my friends know I love wearing my flip-flops in the summer, and I have several pairs. So I packed one pair of dress shoes and two pairs of flip-flops. No matter what my intent was, I wore the flip-flops 90% of the time there. While they feel good, look cute, and were oh so easy to pack, taking almost no room in the old suitcase, my lower ankles were SO sore from all the walking! Most folks who are sedentary get sore in the thighs, hips, abdomen, and lower back after a lot of walking. Calves sometimes get sore too. Not I though. These muscles that I have no idea what to call run from my outside ankles up the outside of my legs were SO SORE. After initially walking the five blocks to and from the conference center the first few days, I started riding the shuttle. Hadn’t really wanted to ride since it didn’t stop at my hotel, but the soreness made me reconsider. I even took a taxi the last day (my excuse being I needed to get my luggage to the conference storage area, and it would be easier. Even though it had wheels, and I could loop my laptop bag over it instead of over my shoulder, I still opted for the costly taxi service to save my sore ankle muscles, whatever they are called.) But I truly believe had I worn sneakers at least one or two days of my six days in Philly, I might of had no pain or soreness. Yikes–this is an official indicator that Im getting old.
Mistake 2: Using the Conference App
ISTE released a conference app for the mobile phone folks, and I discovered it would synch up with my conference planner from the site. AWESOME!! All the sessions, keynotes, and more could be
dialed up accessed on the phone with a light swipe and touch, and an immediate glance could tell me where my next activity was taking place. I could even pull up a map of the Philadelphia Convention Center, and work it out to know the best route to get there. This was somewhat a wasted effort as I generally got sucked into conversations or my ADDOSS (attention deficiency due to overly shiny stuff) kicked in, and somehow I would wind up in the grand exhibit hall, almost in a trancelike state, going from booth to booth, and only being satisfied if there was minimum a sticker, a card, a pen, or a t-shirt given to me, all while I wittingly or not allowed myself to be scanned for what is sure to be a lot of junk mail and more than likely a couple of phone calls. Oh it’s not all bad. I genuinely like some fo the five tshirts I came home with, and I won a free seat license for ComicLife (thank you again Gwyneth Jones!!), and Erica at that booth even helped me load it when I had difficulty earlier. The app had plenty of good, but I used it for my planner, and the conference planner did not allow for adding my own events planned around ISTE (i.e. TEDxPhilly, the InFocus Reception, the ProQuest SIGMS Reception, the Tweetup Karaoke, the planned flashmob, etc. These were not official ISTE planned events, but instead events that planned around ISTE, and so were not neatly indexed in that planner. I missed some of them for that reason. So ISTE planners, if your researching how we felt about it, please consider my request to allow attendees to add in customized events. Thanks. Confession though–I still loved having that app on my phone.
Mistake 3: Going alone.
I know, I know. I’ve learned this before. And many years when I go it is wrapped around a family vacation, so I have plenty of family with me. This year they opted to head to a Yankees’ game, then drop by Philadelphia for a Phillies’ game the next afternoon, and then go back home. We went out to dinner Saturday evening, but other than that, we were just seeing each other in passing. I didn’t get to spend much time with them because I had a commitment with InFocus (thank you again InFocus for allowing me the opportunity to use your equipment, give out your freebies at conference, and talk up the InFocus N3916 projector!) My friends and I had a blast at Tequila’s for the InFocus Reception. But after that, and due to my feet killing me, the remaining evenings I sort of hung out at the hotel –enjoying the College World Series on TV (How about them 2nd year in a row South Carolina Gamecocks CHAMPS!!??) and talking on the phone with my hubby. I did go to dinner with Diane Cordell and Buffy Hamilton another evening, so it wasn’t a total wash. But because I wasn’t in town with a group, I found it hard crashing parties or inviting myself out with an established entourage. I didn’t want to be like a tag along. So next year I am going to work HARD to make plans for company at ALL the after conference activities BEFORE heading to ISTE. Yes, it may very well be family again–they are as excited as I am that next year’s ISTE is in San Diego, and I have a brother in Seattle, so we very well may start in Seattle…that is, if we can drum up the funding for such a trip. But I’d like to do more than just see my hotel room each evening. But I must share that my hotel room at the Club Quarters Philadelphia, while small, was delightful!! I had GREAT wifi, a nice selection of standard cable tv channels (who needs anything else but ESPN when the Gamecocks are in the College World Series during those dates?), an in-room microwave and refrigerator, and was within walking distance of absolutely everything–great shopping, dining, and historical spots in Philly. I can highly recommend Club Quarters to future PACC event attendees.
Still processing ISTE. Surely there will be more to come.