I got back from Texas yesterday (goodbye 105º, hello again, 60º--no, I didn't miss you at all). Now I have a pile of papers going every which way across my desk. Make that several strategically located piles of paper, each one representing a different form of follow-up or catching up to do. But first of all, I wanted to write a bit about my experience at the Catholic New Media Celebration. For the details, you can go right to the SQPN site and even watch the proceedings, which were streamed live.
Last week I wrote that I expected a few other nuns to be there. My hope was to interview them and get a little portrait of the women religious involved in new media. Unfortunately, that would have to be a self-portrait, because I was the only nun there. So much for that idea.
There was a "meet and greet" on Friday night at the hotel in downtown San Antonio where most everyone was staying. (Not me; I stayed in student housing at Incarnate Word University, thanks to the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, who staffed my high school back in the day.) The actual conference took place in the University's very well appointed (but way too frigid) Sky Room. I was continually distracted from the luncheon speaker's message by the thought that the table cloths looked awfully warm... I tried wrapping the large napkin around my arms, but that didn't really help. Finally, Maria Johnson snatched one of the catering company's serapes and wrapped it around me! That helped a lot; I wore it until the caterers were packing up. (Now I know next time to bring a serape. Or a close facsimile thereof.)
When I walked in, the first thing I noticed (besides the overactive air conditioning) was the preponderence of Macs on the tables. As keynote speaker Fr. Dave Dwyer commented, it seemed like an Apple convention (see what I mean?). Fr. Dwyer suggested that all ought to be praying most fervently for Steve Jobs.
Many of the participants were live-blogging and twittering from their places. I kept trying to get online with my Dad's old Palm Tungsten, but with all those Macs around, I didn't stand a chance of getting a breath of wi-fi. (I had to content myself with sending messages from my cell phone.)
As the day went on with its selection of presentations, I was struck my how many of these Catholic podcasters are converts (a striking percentage), and how many came into podcasting with background in radio and IT generally. I learned more about what it might take to do a podcast of some sort. (I would kind of like to do that, but goodness, the discipline it requires! I find it challenging enough to keep up with blogging and Twitter!) I also considered submitting our Theology of the Body online study group to SQPN, especially now that we will be moving it to a time of day that will be easier for European participants to join us live. At least it would be a start. (I know that from the motherhouse, there are plans afoot for a prayer podcast, however.) But I do want to go over to MyCatholicVoice, one of the conference sponsors, to see if they can assist my community in making some progress in that area.
A highlight of the weekend was meeting in person a few people I have known only online. In fact, just about everyone I met there I have only known or first met online (and met them for real last year). I met Inge, a geeky convert from the Netherlands. I met Stephanie, a music teacher from Milwaukee. I finally met Travis Boudreaux, a Cajun geek from Lafayette. I finally met Jeff Young ("the Catholic Foodie") from New Orleans--who is also a member of the Pauline Family's "Holy Family Institute." I even met Carleigh (whom I knew from Plurk as "MsC"): turns out she is a convert (what did I tell you?) and Pueri Cantores director who was beyond amazed and awed to learn that I sing in a parish choir under her musical idol, Paul French. (Paul, are you reading this?) An interesting finding was how many of these very active social media people seem to be introverts. These new technologies provide a kind of non-threatening way to meet people and exchange ideas while still remaining in a safe, quiet corner!
Here's a little something fun from podcaster and brain surgeon (no kidding) Paul Camerata to sort of sum up the weekend: