Searching Technorati for useful phrases (“narrative trajectory” or “that David Lodge novel with the conference with one paper a day and the rest was coffee breaks”) doesn’t necessarily get you what you think you want, but you do tend to end up with some good reads. Like this description of academics not daring to leave a presentation when the fire alarm went off:
I had a strong sense that I was in a scene from a novel by David Lodge, and that the next day the headlines would read, “Fire in Toronto Hotel–Hundreds of Professors Die.” When a fire alarm goes off, you’re supposed to evacuate the building. That is why they are there. But we were so interested in the session, and so used to looking for a source of authority, that we refused to act prudently–probably because we feared that prudence would look foolish after we found out what had actually caused the alarm. In the end things worked out for the best. But the popular notion that academics are otherworldly, impractical, and perhaps dangerous was reinforced.
I think that’ll be my new discipline: start the day with a technorati search for a keyword that, well, OK, let’s say it should be a little more related to my research than that last one.