Digital Scholarship Rhetoric/Composition

The empty space of the academic presentation

So there’s a fairly good chance you know more about Casey Neistat that I do. He’s something of a YouTube sensation with over 9 million subscribers. He also had an HBO series (I guess you’d call it). In my “copious spare time,” I’ve been hunting around, trying to catch up on the world of digital composing that passed me by while I was sentenced to several years as a WPA, and Neistat is someone I’ve only recently (and belatedly) encountered. Below is today’s episode in Neistat’s newly revived daily vlog on his efforts to build something (not quite sure what) in a space at 368 Broadway in Manhattan.

But this post isn’t really about that. It’s about this particular episode from an angle to which many academics could relate (is that the right preposition, “to”?).


This episode sees Casey traveling to Montreal to give a presentation. We see nothing of the presentation. Instead we see the antics of travel. In particular we see his struggles with his motorized scooter-luggage combo.

This relates to my earlier post on “meatspace meetspace.” (BTW, I love how my browser complains that meetspace isn’t a word but is mum about meatspace.) Whether you’re headed to a conference where you’re one of 100s giving presentations or giving an invited talk somewhere, your primary experience is not about the presentation; it’s about all the miscellanea around it: the travel, the hotel, the food, socializing, etc. That’s what this particular episode captures.

I may regret saying this, but I think I’d love to see thousands of 10-minute videos of my colleagues’ travails going back and forth to some BS conference. I’m thinking those would be far more compelling, far more likely to convince me to take interest in their work, than 15-20 minutes of their reading a paper with bulletpoint slides.

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