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Why you should go to the 2014 CAR Conference

By Ron Campbell

The NICAR conference is like the NICAR list on steroids.

If you don't get that reference, let me explain. I'm on the West Coast. I have posted a highly technical question on the NICAR list at 6 p.m. on a Friday and received a detailed, precise, accurate answer from a colleague on the East Coast — remember, this is on a Friday night — 15 minutes later.

The NICAR conference is way better. It starts early each morning with coffee around 7:30. It ends late each night whenever the bar closes; I can't stay awake that long. Oh yes, there are also panels where you can hear from people whose work you've admired long-distance. Better yet, these people will answer your questions, talk face-to-face with you in the bar and share meals with you. 

The NICAR conference is Matt Waite flying a drone — indoors. It's Sarah Cohen describing the latest software she's working with. It's Jennifer LaFleur and David Donald talking analysis. It's Paul Overberg and me, completing each other's sentences as we discuss the census. It's 30 or 40 people shuffling from room to room, suffering from sensory overload.

I'll put this simply: You've got to invest in yourself because nobody else will. NICAR is the smartest investment you can make.

Ron Campbell is a longtime IRE member and independent journalist

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