I don’t know where to start re: describing the conference at Jamestown. The tours, workshops, and lectures *all* rocked. Some bits were of more interest to me than other bits, but it was all full of good information, and the areas that didn’t appeal much to me made my friends squee with delight. I’ll likely write about some of the specific topics later.
What impressed me most was the atmosphere of truth-seeking among the participants, as well as the absence of ego. We had real experts in many fields there, and almost universally, I got the impression that they actively wanted input from the “amateurs”. People were open-minded, and more than once I heard people say they’d love to hear about it if anyone came across information that contradicted their interpretation of the current data.
I very much prefer a collaborative model of learning over a student-teacher model. There are some situations where you need a single teacher (e.g., you know how to do X, and I want you to teach me X, so you have to play teacher, and I have to play student), but overall, we all benefit when we all see each other as valuable resources of information and work collectively toward the truth.
We think and argue and constantly re-evaluate our own positions in light of new evidence. We never believe that we have achieved the final word on a topic, even if we’re pretty confident of the solution we have found. We curse the lack of evidence together when we have to admit there are some things we just don’t know yet. We respect expert opinions, but remember that even the experts are sometimes wrong, and we don’t take “Mary Sue Famousname said so” as the final word on anything because Mary Sue Famousname is smart enough not to think she’s the final word on anything and tells us so. We occasionally declare ourselves to have been wrong and someone else right, and we rejoice when we find that we collectively have moved closer to the truth, even if our pet theory isn’t supported as the most likely solution.
This is my tribe.