Sunday, April 20, 2008

Thoughts on the AAG annual meeting in Boston

I just returned yesterday from Boston and an amazing AAG meeting there. This was my first AAG annual meeting and I was completely blown away. I heard reports of 8,000 attendees and apparently for the past several meetings they have broken attendance records. This is such an exciting time to be in this field. There were literally thousands of sessions throughout the five day event. They ranged from what you might expect ("Historical Geography", "Topics in Biogeography") to what you might not ("The Happy Yodel and the Sad Sigh: Mobility, Scale, and Globalization"... three papers on yodelling believe it or not. and, "The Geographies of Cycling"). It was a bit overwhelming to have so many choices of sessions to attend. I went to the South East Regional meeting this past fall in Charleston, SC and it was similarly exciting but it could not begin to prepare me for the annual meeting. Some highlights for me included:
  • Presenting at the AAG - It was humbling to be in the cyberinfrastructure session and although I was extremely nervous, it gave me confidence for the next time I present
  • Subversive Cartographies - I missed Dennis Wood, but did get to see John Krygier's presentation. Dr. Scott taught us cartography using their book. Krygier had such a refreshing take on presentations and caused me to think more about how maps work. I even got a comic book from him!
  • Web Mapping/Cartography sessions
  • Session on coastal vulnerability to sea level rise - These presentations were mostly by USGS and were some of the best research showcases I saw. Very objective, very definitive talks. Very "so-there" research as opposed to "all-about-it" (from SU Geog414 Research and Writing class and another paper which I can't find right now).
  • Visualization Cartography and Cognition session - Zachary Johnson did a very well done presentation on his research into cartograms and cognition. Sarah Battersby also had a very interesting talk on digital globes where she proposed standards to the interface design. I thought the timing of this was kind of funny since Google Earth has just released an update with yet another grouping of navigation tools. Ha!
I am coming back full of ideas and excitement for my next few years in grad school. The conference was also made so much better for me because I was with my buddies from Maine. I consider myself fortunate to have them as friends and colleagues.

We stayed in a hostel out past Boston University and the train ride to the conference each day was a welcome part of my mornings there. This was my second time in Boston and I could definitely see myself living there in the future. The city (hah, at least our train line and Copley Square) is very hip and young and bike-friendly.

Overall it was an excellent trip and my last big deadline for a little while. I am looking forward to having more free time to post here and to gear up for South Carolina in the fall.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the posts on the blog! I've thought about bird watching with the camera, but it takes time, time and more time. Not much of that around here :) I actually have the Planet Earth HD-DVD (yeah I know wrong format hehe) so I'm kewl there. And if you want any help setting up wordpress let me know. You can also use a account, but plugins are limited.