By Mark Carrigan
I’m sitting in the riverside terrace at the Baltic, watching Undisciplining take shape as people arrive from across the UK and the world for our early career researcher day. I just read Pat Thomson’s morning blog about what it means to be live. Even though we are using the terminology of ‘live blogging’ for this project, we hope it will extend beyond the traditional meaning of real-time reporting. As Pat puts it, “Live-ness is about the capacity to make analysis and conversation at the time, in the time”. If this works, the live blogging is a layer of reflection which will fold into the conference itself, weaving threads of (unpredictable) collectivity through the fabric of the conference.
But what is a conference? It emerges from a range of people and things, planned in advance but cobbled together in practice. Much as I have always been fascinated by seeing festivals starting to be taken apart on the final day, I often find myself drawn to the site of a conference taking life as people begin to arrive on the first day. We can see the conference as an emerging entity taking form, as people bring life to what had previously been inert plans, carrying all manner of contingencies with them. This is a lively, awkward, uncertain moment before the routines of conferences kick in and regularities emerge. It is the moment when what Pat calls the Hive begins to form.