Balisage Paper: Serendipity
B. Tommie Usdin
Mulberry Technologies, Inc.
B. Tommie Usdin is President of Mulberry Technologies, Inc., a consultancy specializing in XML and SGML. Ms. Usdin has been working with SGML since 1985 and has been a supporter of XML since 1996. She chairs the Balisage conference. Ms. Usdin has developed DTDs, Schemas, and XML/SGML application frameworks for applications in government and industry. Projects include reference materials in medicine, science, engineering, and law; semiconductor documentation; historical and archival materials. Distribution formats have included print books, magazines, and journals, and both web- and media-based electronic publications. She is co-chair of the NISO Z39-96, JATS: Journal Article Tag Suite Working Group. You can read more about her at http://www.mulberrytech.com/people/usdin/index.html
Conferences are ostensibly structured around presentations, papers, and posters; and these are key to the success of any conference. By common agreement, the informal aspects of conferences — lunch, coffee breaks, and overheard conversations — are of lesser importance. Balisage produces persistent electronic proceedings, but the conference itself is face to face only. It is human interaction and serendipity that provide the most valuable, You are likely to attend both presentations you know yourself to be interested in and talks on topics you know little about. You may expand your areas of interest; you may learn something useful. A talk about a topic totally foreign to you may prompt you to think of a solution to one of your current problems or a new approach to a long-standing problem. With luck, you will also make a few new friends, connect with some old ones, make a helpful suggestion to a fellow participant, and have some fun in Montreal.