By Jim Maddock, HCDE BS student
The 2014 iConference was in many ways a whirlwind of first experiences. I traveled to Berlin during the first week in March in order to present a short paper I coauthored with Kate Starbird and Mania Orand from the HCDE department, Bob Mason from the iSchool, and Peg Achterman from Northwest University. Not only was the iConference my first conference and first live presentation, but also my first ever academic paper submission, and as such between the sessions, panels, receptions, and dinners the exhausting week was over seemingly no more than hours after it started.
Most notable of the entire week was undoubtedly the presentation itself, though due to nervousness I remember little of that particular thirty minutes. I'm told it went relatively smoothly and judging from the questions the audience found our research engaging. In future sessions I plan to read from my notes less and try not to worry about missing small details in order to create a more organic experience.
In the end we completely unexpectedly won the prize for best short paper, but by far more exciting were the conversations I had, both with my fellow UW students and (hopefully) future friends from other schools. This was my first opportunity to talk to academics in related areas of research, and the new perspectives they offered have been both refreshing and invaluable. I owe a huge thanks to the graduate students from the UW iSchool SoMe Lab with whom I traveled, both for allowing me to tag along and for guiding me through my first conference. Finally, I hope that this will be the first many, and that the acquaintances I made will turn to friends and fellow researchers over the coming years as I attend future events.