I have just returned from an international conference on digital audio effects. I loved it, what it has done to me, and to my motivation.
I have made the experimental research on something like the Kansei of sounds, or the subjective perception of very basic artificial sounds. I have written the paper and submitted it to this conference because I knew the conference was good, and this year it happened in my country. The paper matched the conference’s specifications (Perception, psychoacoustics and evaluation) and it got accepted. The two reviews were very positive, I have made a few modifications, the proofreading was spotless and then the paper was ready.
The day approached and a week earlier I started making my presentation. I did it, re-did it, practiced it alone for my phone, heard me over and over again. I was more or less ready.
I have arrived and the audience was very, very, gender unbalanced. Slowly I started talking to some people, the environment was really friendly and relaxed. We had some beers, some wine. I mingled, which is something that does not come easy in me.
I understood very little of everything that was being presented: digital audio filters, algebra, physics. The audience made, what seemed to be, really hard questions. I started to panic, very quietly.
The day arrived, I presented in the afternoon. I ate very little. I went to the bathroom three times in an hour. People told me I looked pretty relaxed: I was not. I was very afraid, feeling that I did not discuss this enough, had not enough feedback from my supervisors, why did I think this was a good idea? WAIT WHAT? T.C. is in my pannel? I just see every one of his talks on youtube, read every paper and have been reading his book on the past year. * GLUP*
My turn comes. I do the presentation, it goes according to planned, I even finish one minute before. I got asked maybe six questions, which is really a lot. The questions were curious, questioning the effect of context in the perception of sounds, of using environmental sounds as alarms, questioning my conclusions about the little effect a variable had (are you sure it was little? you should verify, some effects are ignored just because of the p-value). I believe being a little off-topic made the audience more curious.
It ended. I had the impression it was not very good, not that bad either.
People approached me in the following coffee-break. Talking about their experiences in hospitals regarding sound, about colleagues who are developing medical devices. They told me I did well, I looked cool, the topic was interesting as in “I have never thought about it!”. One person told me to keep doing what I was doing, another proposed ways of designing better sounds using real-world recordings.
I got the impression that it was not that bad.
Then I was really happy because I came. I heard new things, I met new people, I discussed my work with others. I work so alone that it felt like a marvelous new world to me.
I hope to get more opportunities like this, and to grab them like I did. The final lesson is to just go, the final balance will always be positive. I feel like working, man!