I tidied my desk area this weekend, and thought it was time to go through my collection of conference name badges. I may have a problem:
There were badges for conferences about stem cells, worm genetics, biochemistry, ecology, science journalism, microbiology, signalling networks, art/science, and local graduate student meetings at universities in five different countries. According to the ribbons on the badges I’ve been known to people as attendee, exhibitor, speaker, sponsor, career advisor or press.
Many of them have great memories attached to them. There was the genetics conference where I danced with the president of the organising society, and the publishing conference where I was invited as plenary speaker even though I was only a grad student at the time. (Incidentally, the latter conference was also where I first used a Dyson Airblade. If that’s not worthy of a memento!) There were many from meetings I associate with the first encounter with current friends. Some of the meetings I organised myself. There was a press pass in the mix, a few speaker ribbons, and my badge from the exlusive invitation-only Sci Foo event.
The nicest badge was for Science Online 2014. It comes with many mixed emotions, as it was the last of the Science Online meetings, and is connected with memories of friends, but also reminders of all the tensions of the community.
I kept the ones above, but there were also badges that were just white pieces of paper with my name on it – no event or logo – and others that were for conferences I had no interest in, but I attended on behalf of the sponsor. I got rid of some of those, and of others I kept the paper but not the lanyard and the plastic pouch. (I now have a shoe box of name tag holders of different sizes, in case anyone wants them for an event.)
The pile is currently half the size, and there is room again in the name badge drawer for new memories.