Of course, one can learn just as much from listening to bad papers as good papers. I was constantly left wondering why it is that people come to a presentation with way too much to present. I know the temptation, I feel in myself. I have a 7,500 word version of the paper I presented, and I had to cut it down to 3,000. You don't do that without stressing and worry over the entire arguments that get deleted out. But realistically, I knew I could only deliver 3,000 words in 20 minutes, which would allow 10 minutes for that all important question time, where in many cases, it was the point at which people's presentations really got interesting. Yet, time and again people gave presentations that left no time, or only a minute or two for questions. In a number of cases, people spoke way too quickly. That was a real problem with the range of countries represented there. Whoever was presenting, if they spoke too fast there would be people struggling to understand what they were saying. It really doesn't help if half (or more) the audience doesn't even know what you are saying.Spot on. Mark also writes:
Blogging is really difficult. Difficult to do well anyway. I haven't blogged very much, I will admit to finding it quite a challenge to say something interesting about each day at the conference. It wasn't that there was nothing interesting to say, but it was difficult to say in a short space something that might be interesting to people.I know what you mean, Mark, but you're doing a fine job -- so just trust your instincts and do more of the same.
Update (23.15): Thanks to Jeffery Hodges for sending the following useful set of links to his SBL blogging: