Last three days have been all about the conference. Breakfast at the hotel and then at the congress hall by 9. Lots of very interesting papers and symposia and an equal number during which I count my heartbeat to make sure that I’ve survived the boredom and I’m still alive. Presentation skills do matter; as fascinating as the topic may be, a barely audible monotone backed by 100 powerpoint slides each of which contains an entire section of a recently published paper is not compelling watching. Thank god I missed the call to academe! However the good ones were very good and sparked some interesting ideas to take away and think about.
One of the more relaxing aspects of attending as a retiree from my previous role is that in addition to academics and researchers the conference is attended by the CEOs/MDs of most of the larger international test publishers with whom I can now have an easy conversation without worrying that some critical and stress-inducing business problem between our companies is going to be raised. Didn’t happen all that frequently, but often enough that it lent a certain frisson to the opening chat with someone you haven’t seen for a while. Because these conferences are a great opportunity to meet face-to-face with the network of publishers, it does allow one to explore new distribution arrangements, discuss business issues, deal with any problems that may have arisen since the last contact and gather competitive intelligence but as such it does mean that you need to be on top of your game throughout the conference. However, as Hazel my successor is in attendance, she has the pleasure of dealing with these issues and with the eternal question, “Can we meet over coffee? I have something I need to talk to you about.”. I can sail serenely through these troubled waters and enjoy the program! Have not seen much of A’dam since the conference started. Have not gone to the conference dinners and reception but have been having dinners at little outdoor cafes, only three or four tables, in the neighbour hood. My hotel is on the Keizer Canal right in the centre of A’dam and while this is a busy district, the side streets are all tree-lined, quiet and residential and interspersed with an occasional small restaurant. In all cases these have been pleasant and welcoming with decent food, excellent beer and overall good value. Tomorrow I pick up the car and drive to Bruges; hope I’m back in photo mode by then.