Plug-ins are important to computer users. In Global Voices Summit this year, I really feel this issue. Participants all gather around plug-ins, and I face tremendous problems during the time because my converter doesn’t fit. This time in iSummit08, the situation is much better. I don’t need a converter in Japan, and better of all, I bring my own extension lead. Sitting comfortably on the chair, looking for plug-ins is never a problem to me.
But we have to look for food.
Japanese people, or people overall, love the word “limited”. It has magical power to make people crazy, either in a good or a bad way. They line up for hours, days, or weeks for limited items, such as luxury bags, toys, concert tickets, and even donuts. I personally hate to line up and wait for anything, especially for food.
In iSummit08, however, you really have to run for it.
You have to observe carefully when the food is available. You certainly don’t want each session before lunch ends up late. Don’t get in line, act quickly, as the food is limited. In the reception, I didn’t remember this tip. In the end, it seems like my staple is souse. This definitely doesn’t create a positive towards the whole event when people face nearly empty plates. At the second day, I learn to either leave the session five minutes before it closes, or run instantly after it’s done. That’s how people get a little mountain of food with a victory smile.
It’s also not a very good idea to place coffee machines at one place. That will only create a long line waiting for a small cup. Separating coffee crowds in two areas will surely look better.
Overall, never underestimate how hungry, thristy or greedy participants are when organizing a conference.
Another frustration in this summit is about language.
Chris Salzberg’s post on GV has touched upon this issue already. All I want to do is add a little personal flavor. There are Japanese-English simultaneous translation service during keynote speeches, but other than that, you’d better choose your field/session carefully. My English-speaking ability is not good enough to compete with native speakers in several sessions, obviously. Maybe it’s because of free and open culture, everyone with compatible English comprehension can freely cut off others’ words and start their counterarguments. Don’t pause when you talk, even just one or two seconds, otherwise others will start.
Several people I talk with during the summit have mentioned the same experience. It makes me understand more clearly how important translation and interpretation is, which is my current job. Language can be a very high barrier in a meeting or conference. In this regard, GV summit has done better. Audience can raise their comments by talks, online messages, or notes. In the closed meetings, our moderators always remind people to respect other people when they are talking (thanks David and Solana).
This experience really brings me a mixed feeling. It’s so good to see new and innovative ideas, but it’s sometimes not so good to feel like an outsider.