After my earlier rant with critical remarks about ISTE,1 a friend who doesn’t work for our overly-large school district wonders why I’m still planning to attend the conference in Atlanta next month, despite the fact that the system not only isn’t paying a dime of my expenses, but also requires me to take personal leave.

For one thing, I go to events like this for myself, for my own growth, not to represent the organization I work for.2 Certainly after ISTE I will be sharing the stuff I learn with anyone interested regardless of who paid for my hotel but that’s just my warped personality. It has nothing to do with my employer.

But I won’t be attending many of the formal sessions. More than anything, ISTE is a great opportunity to interact directly with many of the people I follow on line. To have a conversation with elements longer than 140 characters and which are not constrained by a comment box. Maybe even while sharing food and beverages.

I’ll also be exploring the poster sessions and playgrounds, where it’s possible to talk one-on-one with people about their ideas and experiences. And participating in some group brainstorming during some much less formal pre-conference activities.

Beyond the learning, I also enjoy travel, especially exploring cities, and haven’t been to Atlanta in seven years. I’ve heard this situation referred to as a “busman’s holiday”, taking a vacation to do roughly the same as your normal job, so I guess that term may apply to my situation. Part of that exploration will come during the annual ISTE photowalk, which offers a chance for taking pictures, learning more about photography, and for meeting new people who like to do both as well.

Oh, yeah, there’s also a huge conference in town, the least of the whole trip. But it’s a great excuse for everything above.

If you’re also going to be in Atlanta for ISTE, look for me in the Blogger Cafe, at Hack Education on Friday (free), at the Mobile Megashare event Friday afternoon (also free and where I’ll be leading a table discussion), wandering around town looking for my next good shot, or maybe even participating in something more directly conference related. And please say hi.