I am in Trondheim at a conference about safety and risk, where I have been invited to be on a panel organised by the Research Council of Norway, who organise their own conference in conjunction with "Sikkerhetsdagene" - the security days. The topic for the panel is media, crisis and panic.
I have to admit this feels a bit out of my field, but when I arrived just in time for last night's dinner, I was greeted enthusiastically by a friend I barely had time to get to know before he left Volda, and since lost touch with, Professor Peter Burgess at PRIO, the International Peace Research Institute of Oslo.
"What are you doing here?" I asked, subtle as ever. "Oh," he responded, "this Norwegian question, how to answer that?" It turns out that these are his people, as the research group he is leading in PRIO is concerned with security. And so it clicked into place, the talks I had noticed him doing earlier, about Security in Europe. Meeting him saved the evening for me, and reminded me why I missed him when he left Volda for other fields. Some people understand what you're talking about, you know. Which, after all, is why we go to conferences: To meet the people who understand what we're saying, and listen to the ones talking our own tribal language.
The panel I am on is quite interesting, in relation to both my teaching and my research. The session is lead by one of Norway's most interesting law and informatics scholars, who is also a science fiction author (yes, this is one of my long-time heroes) Jon Bing (he has wikipedia entries in both book- and new-Norwegian). Leading the panel debate is Eva Bratholm, a former journalist now leading the information department of Norad, Norwegian Agency of Development Cooperation. Then there's Tone Bergan from The Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning, two full professors, Tore Bjørgo and Rune Ottosen, and ... me.
*smartassed overconfident finishing remark deleted*