Before news about ASHE gets any staler, here's the report I promised.
The first time I went to ASHE, I was excited to go to all kinds of sessions, even stuff outside my interest, just to see what was going on. By my third ASHE last year, I had a pretty good grasp of the kind of work being done, and there were a set of people I looked forward to seeing.
This year the dynamic shifted yet again, because I am on the job market. My anxiety level was heightened as I wanted to make a good impression on search committees and find out the scoop on jobs. Also, I had a series of meetings to go to instead of just sessions.
Hopefully, next year I will have a job and not have to worry so much about trying to impress, but it seems that as times goes on people spend more time in meetings and catching up with friends than they do attending sessions.