On Speaking Appearances and Travel

Added 7/31/16: After looking more closely at family needs and health situations, I’ll simplify this message:

At this point, I am not available for speaking engagements that involve travel. Period. Family & health come first.

Which renders the rest of this somewhat moot…

I probably shouldn’t need to post this–but one recent incident suggests it might be useful.

“Shouldn’t need to post this”

I am not in great demand for speaking appearances. That’s hardly surprising.

Realistically, demand slowed down a lot after 2003 and pretty much stopped after 2009: I did one ALA talk in 2010, one book-related conference talk (in a program where it didn’t really belong) in 2012, and three talks (all book-related) at the OLA/WLA joint conference in 2013 (Oregon and Washington). And that’s it.

I’m not asking for invitations or feeling neglected. I’m starting facts. And those facts make sense: There are lots of younger library people with more to say, with more current insights into most any topic, and certainly with better PowerPoint-equivalent skills.

Most of my oddball research activity these days relates to open access–but even there, there are much better people to speak on any aspect of it other than the details of the gold OA landscape. I doubt that my research would make a compelling speech; I’m satisfied that I can communicate via posts, Cites & Insights and books.

The tl;dr version: I had a great run from 1988 through 2004; it’s time for others to have their say.

Not 100% ruling out…

Am I saying I’ll never do public speaking again? I won’t be unhappy if that turns out to be the case–but under the right circumstances, for the right topic, with the right arrangements, it’s not impossible.


At this point, travel’s difficult, partly due to family health reasons (some mine, some my wife’s, some our cats), partly due to the sheer annoyances of travel.

We haven’t taken a vacation trip for five years or more, and I’d certainly place vacation travel ahead of speaking trips.

If I did accept a speaking invitation–and if family issues allowed it–it would have to be fully funded: we’re not wealthy enough to subsidize speaking trips. And, for that matter, given my age and general reluctance to travel, any long flight would have to be business class or better, as well as lodging in a good business-class hotel (sorry, but Airbnb interests me not at all), other expenses and probably an honorarium.

I suspect that all adds up to “You don’t have enough to offer for it to be worthwhile.” No argument from these parts.

[Remainder struck through as irrelevant.]

What I will not do:

  • Consider a speaking engagement at all without a clear, detailed invitation; tweets need not apply.
  • Be guilt-tripped into feeling that I should be out raising my own money for a speaking trip.
  • Believe that I have unique insights and abilities to educate about OA or any other topic. I’m not an educator.

For that matter, I’ve never really been a strong OA advocate: I’ve tried to add facts to the discussion. If I’m now viewed as pro-gold-OA, you can probably thank Stevan Harnad and Jeffrey Beall as much as anybody.


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