Reflecting on the history of Flow and the five (!) conferences that have sprung out of it, what strikes me most is the sense of experimentation, optimism, and community that underlie it. My first conversation about Flow was when Mary Kearney and I were asked by Christopher Lucas and Avi Santo to brainstorm ideas for an electronic journal. The first of our many meetings was held over beers at the venerable Cactus Café on the UT campus in 2003, as apt a place as any to create something that has always been both inside and outside the university. At that point, Flow was just the shell of an idea, but the core principles were already starting to take shape. We all agreed it should fill the gap left by conventional academic publishing, and it should emerge from the vibrant graduate community in and around the Department of Radio-TV-Film. Like the journal, the first conference began on a gamble: I remember sitting around a table with David Uskovich, Avi Santo, Allison Perlman, Alexis Carriero, and others, wondering if we could get anyone to come to an un-conference, in which we tried to capture the energy of the hallway conversations, and make them the main attraction.
What took shape became larger – and more interesting and valuable – than any of the individuals involved. I haven’t calculated the totals, but in the decade (!) since its inception, the Flow journal and conference have benefited from the work of hundreds of graduate students in various capacities, ranging from moderating a single panel to senior editors who tapped deep reserves of time, energy, intellectual effort, and creativity. There were multiple transitions, ruptures, and developments along the way, and no single person can narrate them all. That’s a good thing; it’s a testament to everyone involved that Flow exists now as it does. Thank you all.
See you in Austin!