One of the standard duties that comes with the great honor of this office is public speaking.
I don’t much enjoy being a master of ceremonies (having my horse drag me naked through a field full of stinging nettles and fresh cow pies sounds like more fun) – however, one of my favorite things is giving technical talks, especially when they might have some bearing on issues that have direct local application for my audience. This is because I almost always gain more insight from the questions asked by my fellow geoscientists in the audience than I feel I have given them.
I just finished presenting a little case study on the Mississippian Lime and “Chat” to the local SIPES group in Oklahoma City (basically everyone in the room raised their hand as an AAPG member) and one of the first questions from the audience was:
“As president of AAPG, can you tell us why we don’t see more of these kinds of case studies in luncheon talks or presented at AAPG meetings?”
My first joking thought was, “Well, AAPG has standards,” but as I thought more about his comment that evening I realized that this gentleman had a valid point.
I suppose the real answer to the gentleman’s question is that we all are covered up with work and perhaps so busy drilling new wells that we just don’t quite get around to sharing what we learned along the way.
But my bet is that virtually every single one of us has a case study or two in our hip pocket that gave us practical and valuable lessons – and that we have never shared publically.
AAPG has two prime directives (Sounds almost like Star Trek doesn’t it?), which, when boiled down to the basics, are to share science and to promote professionalism.
It seems to me that these directives should apply equally as well to each of us as they do to our organization.
So, gentle members, my question for you is:
How many of us are sharing our science, our learnings and, perhaps most importantly, our mistakes with our colleagues?
Progress happens when information is shared.
A story I recently heard goes to the heart of this issue. It seems that there was once a fellow who was very successful in acquiring large quantities of land and exploiting these opportunities, to much fanfare. However, he also was known for making a very visible point of standing up and looking around a room at a technical luncheon talk, just to be sure none of his geoscientists were present.
Now, we might correctly infer that his intent was to preserve confidential information.
I suspect, however, he may have overlooked the critical fact that there are a heck of a lot of smart geoscientists on this planet who don’t work for him. These good folks all have experiences either similar to or different from his people, who were sitting in the dark and imitating mushrooms while the other folks at the meetings exchanged ideas, learned, changed paths and eventually surged ahead.
How many of us, either by intent or because we are “too busy,” are guilty of the same thing?
My challenge to each of you, my respected fellow AAPG members, is to find a way to share at least one “new idea” or “old mistake” case study this year with your local geological/geophysical society, your Section or Region, at ACE, ICE or one of our multi-society partner events, such as URTeC, OTC, IPTC, GEO and beyond.
In this era of electronic presentations, most of us have the necessary slides stuffed in a file, gathering virtual photonic dust in some forgotten corner of our computer. For the price of a couple of hours of work (yes, friends, you might have to give up the equivalent of one awesome, action-packed, thrilling episode of Prancing with the Stars), you can have your talk in hand before the re-run comes on in the next hour.
It is, after all, heart-warming to see a long-suffering speaker chair shed tears of gratitude this holiday season.
And for you, our hard-working speaker chairs and/or technical session chairs, thank you for your service to our science and to each of us in the audience!
Fear not, all of you dear “seeker of speakers,” AAPG members could soon be at your doorstep with talks in abundance – but then there is that pesky question:
Will they really do what many of them, at this very moment, might be saying that they should do?
As always, I would love to hear your comments on how AAPG can better do what we say we will do. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.