Day one of the Amish technology conference at Elizabethtown College.  This morning I drove an Amish friend who is helping to leading the Ag and Business tour a tour to the Young Center. The tour will take in a number of Amish business including a hydroponics produce grower and a popcorn place.  The second tour will focus on health and medical related destinations including a mobile dentist catering to Plain people.

Both buses were ready send waiting when we arrived and the two groups departed without a hitch.


Tour buses outside the Young Center


Donald Kraybill and Tour Guide

Registration begins at 10:30. The conference starts at 1:00 pm.  I have heard that close to 300 will attend over the three days.  I’ve been poring over the schedule to decide which sessions to attend.

With around 100 speakers this is like an all-you-can-eat buffet, but you’ve just got the one stomach. I plan to attend Janneken Smucker’s Amish quilt seminar in the first session but not sure after that.  I met Janneken at the previous Young Center Amish conference (Forgiveness Conference in 2011) and have read a number of her writings on quilts (here is one on the development of Amish quilts in Kansas).

Later tonight we’ll have the plenary lecture delivered by Kevin Kelly, co-founder of Wired magazine, and author of What Technology Wants, which contains a chapter entitled “Lessons of Amish Hackers”. Great book which made me think about technology in a different way. Here is one of Kelly’s blog posts on the topic of Amish hackers.

I’ll be checking back in with updates and more photos throughout the day and conference.

Update: Janneken Smucker’s 1:30 seminar was exactly what you want in a 90 minute talk, being both fun and informative.  Janneken opened with a game called Name That Amish Quilt, presenting a number of slides featuring photos of two quilts.  We had to guess which was Amish based on whatever clues we could discern.  I’ve attached a few photo is, not of the best quality, but should give you an an idea:




Through this exercise Janneken was able to draw out assumptions and expectations we have and make of Amish quilts leading to the question “What makes a quilt Amish?” One point she made was that certain quilt styles or features considered typically Amish were sometimes defied in unexpected ways.  For example Janneken noted how quilt dealers in the 1970s avoided white background quilts feeling they broke an unwritten rule of not appearing “Amish” enough.   However certain communities or families have in the past created quilts quite contrary to say traditional quilt templates such as the dark toned Center Diamond or Log Cabin patterns.  These include white background quilts and some with elaborate embroidery such as the “ribbon” quilts

She also made some interesting comparisons between Amish quilts and those created in the African-American community at Gee’s Bend, Alabama.

Much more could be said but this will have to do for now because it’s dinner time here at the Elizabethtown student center, and I’m getting hit in the head with flying Amish hats so time to answer the call!

Update 2:  

Kevin Kelly just finished his plenary session.  For those that saw it online or in person your feedback welcome. A photo from the talk:


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