August 18, 2010 9:24 AM   Subscribe

Would it be worth it to drive five hours from Chicago to Cincinnati to present a poster at a relatively influential conference for two hours and then drive back?
posted by nosugrefneb to Science & Nature (26 answers total)
I don't think this is a question we can answer for you, without knowing what conference it is. And even if we did know what conference it is, most of us probably haven't heard of it because we're not in your field.

In other words, seek the advice of Trusted Mentor-Type People, not random people on the Internet.
posted by madcaptenor at 9:27 AM on August 18, 2010

Well, sure--why not? Would paying for gas be too much of a thing?

I really can't see a reason not too other than "ten hours of driving sucks." If you can wrangle it so you do this and then have a day or two off (from school/work/whatever) that would make things better, I think.
posted by Neofelis at 9:28 AM on August 18, 2010

I live in a tiny town in Mississippi... I drive four hours to go shopping for clothes at the nearest mall, to pick up people from the nearest airport, and to go to the nearest big-city events. I think it's worth it.
posted by patheral at 9:28 AM on August 18, 2010

What are you balancing this against? If there is no financial hardship that would make this too expensive and if you have the time, why not? It is just a day and you may get something good out of it.

Is there some other part of the conference you could sit in on to learn something, too?

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
posted by readery at 9:28 AM on August 18, 2010

On a regular basis I drive from Cincinnati to Chicago to have lunch. It's a boring but extremely easy drive. Poster it up, my friend.
posted by banannafish at 9:29 AM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

You've given us very little info to go on, but my gut reaction is "probably not". One of the main purposes of attending a conference is to hear what other people are doing in your field, talk with them about their research and yours, and build connections with other researchers. For me, these things are more of a draw than the opportunity to present my work is. If you're only there for two hours, and you're standing in front of a poster for the whole time, you'll have no opportunity to do any of this.

Is there no way you can spend a night there, at least? Are you an undergraduate, grad student, postdoc, in private industry, an independent researcher, or what?
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:32 AM on August 18, 2010

This depends entirely on your field (are you a professor of English literature? are you selling window blinds to wholesalers?) and what "worth it" means (are you trying to get yourself hired at a university? are you trying to get your brand of widget into the hands of a specific trade group?).
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:46 AM on August 18, 2010

A bit more info:

It's a conference on web uses in higher education.

I am a podcaster in my spare time, and my poster would discuss podcasting in medical education, but other than that, I really have no burning desire to attend the rest of the conference. But, it's a well-known event to those in the field, so presenting would be a good way to get our message out there.

Otherwise, I am a graduate student in the sciences and my normal work has nothing to do with anything related to the conference.

Taking a day off wouldn't be a huge deal, and gas expenses are obviously not a huge deal, but I'm not sure I want to put in the effort of designing a poster and driving there and back just for a two-hour gig that likely wouldn't provide (m)any benefits in return (but, if it did, they would potentially be nice to have).

Does this opportunity gamble outweigh the hassle of driving back and forth?
posted by nosugrefneb at 9:47 AM on August 18, 2010

Your institution doesn't have a discretionary travel fund to buy you a plane ticket?
posted by halogen at 9:47 AM on August 18, 2010

Sounds good to me. But I like road trips.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:49 AM on August 18, 2010

@halogen: No, I'm afraid I've used up my funding quota with conference plans later in the year (on the same topic, as it happens).
posted by nosugrefneb at 9:49 AM on August 18, 2010

It's probably worth it.

Now, if you take time in Cincinnati to go to Aglamesis Brothers for some ice cream, it is definitely worth it. In fact, just thinking about it has me pondering the possibility of flying from L.A. to Cincinnati and back just for the ice cream.
posted by The World Famous at 9:49 AM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Depending on the date/time/location of conference/ability to get there, you may be able to take a MegaBus trip from Chicago to Cincinatti and back in the same day.

Like I said It'd add a couple of hours on each end, but it would mean not driving round trip which to me means sleeping/reading/writing.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:04 AM on August 18, 2010

Otherwise, I am a graduate student in the sciences and my normal work has nothing to do with anything related to the conference.

the thing about networking is that sometimes the most randomly made, most tenuous of connections are the ones that somehow manage to connect you to what you really want. if this conference is as big of a deal as you say it is, and you're already considering going, you really should go. find a couch to sleep on if you want to super save money— a fellow mefite?—or a spare bed in an attendee's hotel room and stay the night. email really interesting people you know will be attending and ask them if you can schedule interviews while you're there for future podcasts, which would be great for your site content-wise and create traffic. win!
posted by lia at 10:05 AM on August 18, 2010

HighEdWeb, I'm assuming? I presented there several years ago and found it to be a great experience; then again, I was a community college web manager at the time and was there for the whole event.

Kinda depends what you want to get out of it, that and how much you like driving.

A lot of really energetic & smart web folk will be there (for one, my buddy dw) and if you can stick around a bit it might be worth getting to meet some of them. On the other hand, I seem to remember the poster sessions being relatively lightly attened -- although that was several years back, it may have changed since then.

I don't know if it would make a good resume-builder for you, or a good promo point for your project/program ("as seen at HighEdWeb"); if so, that could tip things towards going. If that doesn't matter, then not so much.

My personal travel rule is that generally I want to spend at least as much time at my destination as I had to spend traveling. (IOW, I don't make the hour+ drive to Seattle for any activity of less than 3 hours.) YMMV. If you can find a way to make it into a mini-vacation and do something else in the vicinity, maybe stay overnight, that would make the difference if it were me.
posted by epersonae at 10:09 AM on August 18, 2010

Have you ever been to Cincinnati before? Indianapolis? On the Skyway? If not, at the very least it's an adventure. And it's an easy drive to boot, assuming you miss traffic.

Go for it.
posted by hwyengr at 10:14 AM on August 18, 2010

And lia has a very good point about serendipitous connections. (Hilarious HighEdWeb story: I met a web manager for a college on the other side of town for the first time while in Rochester. Absurdity aside, that's been a really good connection for me over the years.)
posted by epersonae at 10:14 AM on August 18, 2010

The larger the conference, the better the speakers, the stronger the planned sessions/agenda and the more there are good vendor freebies the less important the posters. If it would help you professionally develop the poster that is one thing but I am guessing you will get minimal traffic if it is as above
posted by rmhsinc at 10:33 AM on August 18, 2010

Drive down. Give the presentation. Stay the night in Cincinnati. The next day, treat yourself to Kings Island. Stay overnight again. Next day, drive home happy.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:33 AM on August 18, 2010

It's a nice resume builder. A poster presentation likely gets you a conference pass. If you go, participate in at least a full day of the conference. if the overnight is a deal-breaker.
posted by theora55 at 12:50 PM on August 18, 2010

You should definitely go. Think of it this way: picture yourself three years from now. Which is more likely?

1. You regret not having gone to the conference.

2. You regret having gone to the conference.

It's the missed opportunity that always haunts you. Giving your presentation will get your name and your presence out there in a way that you literally can't reproduce any other way. This is a unique opportunity, and you should take advantage of it.
posted by ErikaB at 1:15 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Make it worthwhile. Spend a night in Cincinnati. Check into a good hotel downtown. Eat well. Get some ice cream at Graeters. Go to Skyline Chile. Maybe go to a Reds game.

I grew up north of Cincinnati. It's no tourist attraction but it is the only city in Ohio I'd consider spending a day or two in.
posted by justcorbly at 3:33 PM on August 18, 2010

Just a quick one for you - I would consider staying the night, if possible. Couchsurf, or really cheap motel, or even sleep in your car. I did something similar a few years ago (and not as long a trip) and fell asleep at the wheel on the way back - and hit and killed a small animal. It wasn't pleasant! Now I always make sure I am well-rested before driving anywhere.

The other thing - maybe instead of spending all that gas money you might consider bus travel? Chance for you to get some sleep/work on other things/read for pleasure?
posted by humpy at 3:34 PM on August 18, 2010

posted by ethnomethodologist at 7:50 PM on August 18, 2010

Check out MegaBus. I just did the drive from near Cincinnati to Chicago this past weekend and parking was a hassle. Parking is not as bad in Cincinnati as in Chicago (especially if you're not going to be there long), but I did wish that I'd researched the MegaBus option instead of worrying about a car.
posted by srah at 8:17 PM on August 18, 2010

The answer you're looking for is yes.
posted by 2oh1 at 11:03 PM on August 19, 2010

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