Saturday, April 12, 2008

Home from "Computers In Libraries"

I had a great time at the CIL conference. Of course I've got pages and pages of notes with ideas, web sites to look at, tools to try, powerpoint slides to review, etc... I don't think I"ll "blog" those as such but I'll probably put them online somehow to share with colleagues, etc... (As a note-taking device, I installed MediaWiki locally on my MacBook - to get some experience thinking in mediawiki markup. Seemed to work pretty well, and makes the case for putting the results up on a wiki somewhere, either my own or of the conference / library related ones).

What stands out for me, though, is more the emotional content of the conference. I hadn't been to a library conference in quite a while, and had forgotten the feeling of the shared passion and excitement that is generated by that many people getting together. The three keynote sessions were well chosen - each expressed the passion in a different way, and I did find myself relating the ideas presented to later, more technical, sessions. The Pew Internet & American Life Project and the Shanachies Tour sessions were obvious choices to me before the conference, but I was dubious of the "Gaming" related keynote going into (and probably for the first 15 minutes into it). I understood the interest in gaming and (some of) the values of integrating it into (some) library programs -- but I realize now I didn't really "get it". So this session was one of the bigger epiphanies for me at the conference, and really made me re-evaluate a lot of the other sessions I attended. Its not about the gaming per se - its about being engaging and interactive, about helping people be self-motivating through entertainment and social incentives.

My favorite example is was the "Pecha Kucha" Web 2.0 technologies session. For me it in a way embodied a lot of the themes that other sessions talked about. There was good information there, and useful stuff to be learned, but the whole presentation became more than the sum of its parts in the way that the different presenters related to each other, and the panel related to the audience. There was more synthesis and synergy than is achieved in most conference presentations - especially by the time Greg Notess made his "skeptic" presentation. (But I have to add that - in spite of what I said about my gaming epiphany later, I thought that turning the Pecha Kucha into a competition took something away from it - for me at least. Even though it was done at an audience member's suggestion, I felt it re-established a bit of the division between panel and audience that had been broken down. I suddenly felt uncomfortable and self conscious - I didn't want to judge between the panelists. So anyway, that is my $.02 worth for whoever may be listening).

I don't really feel like I've explained myself here - maybe I will write more as I continue to go through my notes and find examples. I think the Pecha Kucha thing was at the front of my mind from working on this, which was my attempt at putting into practice some of the "infotubey" goodness:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcmikedermott/2406106770/


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