I ran across an Excel spreadsheet from some years ago that I had used to plan my trip to attend the 2004 NCME conference in San Diego. The weather was memorable that year. But I also attended a number of sessions during which interesting papers were presented and discussants and audience members made compelling comments.
My new memories of the 2010 NCME conference are different. I am grateful that the weather was pleasant. But I have memories of rushing from one responsibility to the next responsibility. I am sure the 2010 NCME conference included interesting papers and compelling commentary but memories of them were overshadowed by a sense of haste and feeling of urgency. This impression was of my own doing. First, I arrived several days late because of my already crowded travel schedule. Second, I participated in the conference in several roles: as presenter, discussant and co-author.
What I missed this year in Denver was the luxury of contemplation. I missed the luxury of sitting in the audience and reacting to the words and ideas as they rolled from the tongues of the presenters. I missed the luxury of mentally inspecting each comment from the discussants or the audience members and comparing them with my own reactions. I missed the luxury of chewing over the last session with a colleague as we walked through the hotel hallway and maybe grabbed lunch before the next session.
I can and did benefit from attending the NCME conference without the luxury of contemplation. But I missed the pleasure and comfort from indulging in the calm and thoughtful appreciation of the labors of my colleagues. These days we rarely indulge in the luxury of contemplation and we are often impoverished because of it.
Paul Nichols, PhD
Psychometric & Research Services
Assessment & Information