WiFi, what WiFi?

Last night, I returned from Denver, where I attended two full days at the annual conference of the American Translators Association (ATA). I connected with clients and colleagues, attended seminars and lectures, and enjoyed socializing with linguists from all over the world. As always, the conference was organized, sessions started promptly, and technology was in place for the speakers. During the first seminar, a so-called pre-conference seminar, I pulled out my laptop to take notes and opened the window showing available wireless networks. Nada. No WiFi. I thought surely they are behind in setting this up, so I patiently waited a few minutes, half an hour, one and a half hours. During the break, I walked over to the ATA information booth to inquire what was going on and was told the WiFi network would not be set up until the following day.

Is it really possible that whoever was in charge of scheduling the WiFi network for the conference thought it would be just fine not to offer translators a connection during the pre-conference seminars? Would anyone have thought 20 years ago that it would be ok not to have payphones available at any type of conference so people could stay connected to clients, friends and family? Does offering pre-conference seminars somehow fall under a different category of needs for those attending? Does the ATA not understand that many of us actually work on projects while we are at the, yes, "pre"-conference? I think it’s time to wake up and smell the 21st century.

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