The American Accounting Association, aka “Triple A” is the professional organization for Accounting professors in the US and has a huge participating membership for Accounting professors abroad as well. Every year the Triple A hosts a mighty conference – usually with over 3,000 people attending, plus spouses, significant others, kids, and random family members – in the first week of August. This means that in the first week of August, somewhere in the US, an hotel is filling up to the eaves with Accounting professors. In many cases, this means exactly what people assume it means. Lots and lots of people in golf shirts, khaki slacks, or suits, all coming together to talk about…Accounting. (I hear this word in the Reverential Tones used by Sam the American Eagle muppet when he speaks of Business).
Accounting practice, Accounting research, Accounting education. It’s three or four days of intensive Accounting Chatter. At the hotel coffee shop, at the hotel bar, in the hotel lobby, in the hotel elevators, and at the hotel pool. And, of course, there are skillions of academic sessions where people are not just chatting about Accounting, they are presenting it. Panels, guests speakers, active researchers sharing their work through presentations and poster sessions.
If you ever feel that you life lacks a certain…Accounting Angle…you know where to go to repair that now. The Triple A conference is the Place To Be.
Usually, as I mentioned, this means we have a rather large hotel that is bursting at the seams with Accounting professors, actual Accountants, and their friends and relations.
This time, we’re meeting in Anaheim, a stone’s throw from the Hallowed House of the Mouse: Disneyland. This proximity is a major reason for the choice of venue. There has to be something for everyone else to do while the professors are off talking about Accounting. So in addition to the juggernaut of Accounting, there are hordes of vacationing families. This, too, is not atypical, because the conference location has been strategically identified.
This hotel, this time, however, the scene at the hotel is nothing short of surreal. To the typical convention melange of tourists and the Followers of Accounting is added a very tsunami of Youth. This hotel is also hosting VidCon, a Con (they aren’t sure if it’s a CONference or a CONvention, according to their site), and a a massive 10,000-plus-person celebration of Internet Video Auteurs and YouTube Groupies.
I will be honest.
I had no idea such a thing existed.
And yet, here we are, with swarms of overheated youth wearing gigantic Con badges with handwritten lists of their favorite YouTube channels on, to broadcast their Cyber Affiliations.
If only we were in Japan, I would be certain that my plane had taken a sideslip through the Twilight Zone and landed me smack in the middle of a William Gibson novel. It’s much less edgy than Gibson’s cyberpunk dystopia. It’s more like…Disney’s version of Gibson’s cyberpunk dystopia. Complete with a massive ultra-techy live music stage out in the courtyard.
I suspect that this hotel may be exceeding its fire load. The elevators have been impossible, between the throngs of Youth who look and smell as though they’d been camping and who are racing up and down to catch various Scenes. Anyone who’s been to a major Con knows about this – for the rest of you, much of the “great” stuff that happens that people talk about for years after actually happen in overcrowded hotel rooms. That would have to be CONvention, not CONference, because most of what seems to happen in hotel rooms at a CONference – other than the usual activities associated with hotel rooms – is Small Business Meetings.
At CONventions, what happens is choice authors holding court, or new filk songs being drafted, or – in this case – vast numbers of brand-new YouTube videos premiering. All of them in dozens of hotel rooms packed to the gills with teenagers all jockeying for a look at someone’s laptop screen.
Beyond this, there are of course those who are using the Physical Plant to manufacture new YouTube video. The escalators are a peculiar fashion parade of groups shooting footage, some escalators hosting more than one group shooting different footage at a time – with predictably amusing results. The elevators have been hosting this action too. There was a pair of chicks wearing masks representing, I think, some politician, and joyriding the elevators in a Penetrating Stern and Judgmental Silence. I couldn’t see who was filming them because we were packed in that car like sardines.
I have been party to some Strange Scenes, but the Accounting Professors Meet YouTube Fen has got to be one of the strangest so far. Sadly, I am informed, the YouTube Fen will be vacating the premises today. One wonders what next marvel will present itself.