Just returned from Chicago, from the 93rd annual NCA convention. The best thing about conventions is to meet old colleagues and make new ones. But, some of the programs were very interesting; they always rejuvenate me.
I hear the number of attendees was somewhere in the neighborhood of 6,200 which is terrific. If you were not able to attend, you can still get a CD containing many of the papers (for $25) by going to the NCA Store at http://www.NCAStore.com/ .
If any NCA officers are listening here, please, please, please don’t ever schedule programs at 2 different hotels that are a mile apart (maybe less but not a comfortable walk). [Programs were mainly at the Hilton but a good number were at the Palmer House.] Most people I talked to, didn’t even look at the programs at the Palmer House; it was just too much of a chore to get there and then get back to the Hilton for the next session.
My second plea would be to bring back the free coffee in the exhibition area. It brings people in and makes it easier to find long-lost colleagues, talk with students, and just take a convenient break from the programs.
Last, NCA must have a table in the exhibition hall or at least near by. Apparently NCA sold all the spaces available in the exhibit hall and so didn’t have a table of its own. I think most people want to be able to review the various [and excellent] NCA publications and purchase the disk of the programs while we’re at the convention, as we were able to do in the past. On the other hand, the fact that NCA was able to sell all the available spaces is a good sign that publishers are very, very interested in communication as a discipline. But, still, NCA needs its own table or booth.
Well, one more point. Conventions are funny things. Colleges normally pay for people to attend if they deliver a paper, so there is pressure to accept as many papers as possible to increase attendance. At the same time, the various divisions of NCA are each given a number of programs to fill and even if they don’t receive great papers, they’re still likely to fill the slots. Together, these two factors (and maybe others) contribute to the acceptance of papers that perhaps are too early in their development to command an audience. Many, many, many papers, of course, were excellent; some were even already accepted for publication in some of our best journals. But, it’s time for greater quality control to be instituted by divisions and caucuses as well as by NCA.