Wednesday, April 11, 2007
University of Texas at Austin
And so we turn to the second leg of my trip. It may not have been worth flying halfway round the world just for the blog conference, so when Sam Gosling invited me to visit UT Austin I jumped at the chance. He told me before I left for the US that there were a good few people interested in meeting with me while I was there. This was to be my first real chance to talk to psychologists, so I was flattered that anyone was interested.
What Sam failed to convey is that I would barely have a minute to myself while in Austin. When I actually saw my schedule I was stunned. This is one of the big changes in no longer being a wandering doctoral student but becoming a touring postdoctoral researcher: you have to bear in mind that people are coming to see you; you are an expert in your field; people will have questions and you will be able to confidently answer them. All very exciting stuff.
So over the course of my short stay I met with a lot of very interesting people (from linguistics and computer science as well as psychology) and had some really good discussions. Many of the ideas that came up will fuel my future thinking, as well as provide fodder to post about here. I established that the Edinburgh connection (my alma mater is a world leader in the computational linguistics field) is well represented in Austin. I also met people who knew (or knew of) both Jon and Robert, so I was given the opportunity to discuss areas beyond the sociolinguistics of blogs.
Not that I could ever get tired of talking about my work. It really is an interesting area to study, and though I know I would say that, I'm clearly not the only one who thinks so. Attendance for my talk was really good and - even if I do say so myself - I was on particularly fine form. Needless to say, it went over very well.
Since I've been back, I've been in contact with and have been contacted by a number of Austinians. I am, as ever, more than happy to talk about anything relating to my work or indeed personality, language or blogs more generally. I am also more than happy with the possibilities for the future that have opened up as a result of my visit. I was very fortunate to meet good people from a wide range of backgrounds. Of particular benefit was the flight from Austin to LA with Jamie Pennebaker. This trip has left me with a lot to think about. I'm looking forward to the directions my work could go in and the collaboration that my trip could bring. Between this and the conference, it was well worth flying halfway round the world.