Sunday, May 15, 2022

The Poster

When I started university, my plan was to get my degree, do honours, then a PhD, then become a researcher/lecturer, and then after about 40 years retire at around 65 (probably the most optimistic part of that whole plan). Of course, that kind of crashed and burned when I dropped out of my PhD, but that academic culture still sticks with me.

A part of that is the process of producing knowledge, and disseminating it. While I never had to publish or perish, the significance of getting a paper accepted and printed, and the related process of attending and presenting at conferences still carries the hallmarks of progress, success, and significance for me. 

At a conference, there are various levels of presentations. At the top you have the keynote speaker, then featured presenters, and then regular talks. The lowest of these is the poster presentation, where you have an A1 poster about your topic that people can look at, and depending on the conference, there might be some time where you're expected to stand by your poster for people to talk to you and ask questions. This is generally where you start out, and over time you work your way up.

And indeed this is where I started out. While I no longer have a copy of the poster, the paper that went with it is still online

But then life happened, and conferences weren't a part of what I did.

Until now.

Towards the end of last year the company that I now work at was encouraging staff to submit presentations for an industry conference as we are one of the main sponsors this year. After a little thought, I submitted a topic, and was accepted. And so I put together a poster for the conference.
The conference started on Tuesday, and after the opening address the first thing I did was walk through the expo hall to find where my poster was. Seeing it there did give a thrill and a sense of pride. 

While thinking about this I have internally been minimising this in comparison to what I did in university. I still put academia on a bit of a pedestal, which I think is something I need to dial back on. When you boil it down, in both cases, the content being shared was "We did a thing, here's how it went." And while at uni I had lofty ambitions of adding to the sum total of humanity's knowledge, being honest my current job helps make life a little better for a lot more people than any amount of studying oddly behaving crystals.

Anyway, I did a thing, and that's how it went.

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