Monday, December 21, 2009

popularity

My poster was on display on Thursday. I put it up in the morning, and then, since the schedule listed it as being up in the afternoon, spent the morning looking at other people’s posters (most of whom were not present at their posters, since they were also scheduled for the afternoon). I spent the afternoon standing by my poster, watching people walk past, many of whom didn’t slow down enough to really look at any of the posters in my area. A few people did stop by to chat—several who were from other disciplines but curious as to what I could tell them of my research, and one of whose name I recognize from papers he’s published. Since I’d read so many posters when the authors weren’t present, I tried not to mind that there were chunks of time when no one was looking at mine. However, having stopped by a poster of a fellow geoblogger http://thrustacline.blogspot.com/2009/12/wow.html and seen how swamped she was with adoring fans did cause me to spend a wistful thought or two on the topic of popularity. It also caused me to recall a conversation I overheard before the start of the Bowen lecture on Tuesday, when one man commented to another “Last year I arrived five minutes before the start of the Bowen lecture, and it was standing room only”. His companion looked around at the empty seats still available 10 minutes before the start of the talk and commented that Metamorphic petrology just isn’t as popular as some of the other fields of geology. This caused me to join the conversation, commenting that if I am interested in a topic it is a sure sign that it isn’t “mainstream”.

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