— 9 June 2004 —

Opening Plenary

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As I said in an earlier post, conference attendance is up this year. at the beginning of the plenary it was announced that the almost final tally is around 470.

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The conference theme is Connecting Communities. So a lot of Ginny Redish’s talk is about community. She led us through an exercise that got us to think about the communities to which we belong, which of course got me thinking about my own communities.

Nothing beats showing up. I belong to many online communities, and those are the ones I have the most daily interaction with. I also belong to many other communities in real life too, but with the exception of work, I don’t really get much interaction with any of them. So coming to UPA is a treat. Yes, for much of the year my involvement with this community is online, but it is not a virtual community like this one, Tribe, or WebWord.

It’s nice, even giving my recent musings on introversion, to add more of my senses to the interaction mix. And that’s why it is so important to show up. Even with my memory, I won’t forget this conference for many years. I still remember much of UPA 2001.

This room is full of a lot of people I do not know, yet we all share common desires and goals. I do see some people I know. Some people I only see when I come to a conference. I hear the buzz of their conversations, feel the handshakes and being bumped into when stepping up to the coffee urn, see and incredible array of different types of faces. People connecting. Sharing stories. Making contacts.

Particularly sharing stories. I feel that the only thing that defines us as individuals is the stories we share. The stories are specific to our experiences, and our experiences are unique because of many variables. And we can have many stories that define our experiences, but we are not defined in our community without sharing. If no one knows what you are about, your definition in that community is tenuous.

So, while nothing beats showing up, nothing is better than being involved and sharing. Today, think about your communities and your definition in them. Is your definition accurate? Does it need to be refined? I think there are some communities in my world that need refinery, which is why I decided to merge my personal and professional blogs.

And when I look at all the communities in which I am involved it makes me wonder if I am currently involved in too many. So I think I need to review, refine and prioritize. After the conference of course, because this community, while in continuous refinement, is a high priority.

Thank you for being part of my community.

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