I didn’t end up blogging the rest of the conference, because I was too busy listening. There were some really interesting talks on topics I don’t usually hear about, like digital public history, so I kind of wanted to just take it in instead of typing out what someone was saying. It was also a great conference because I got to meet so many people. I came there knowing no one and left with some new friends in really diverse areas of the field. There are only around 30 participants in the Digital Institute, so it’s a small enough group where you can really get to know people. We eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together (and lots of free drinks are made available during dinner), which helps to cement that intimacy. I really wish more conferences were set up this way. Big conferences have their place, but there are too many people to really have the intimate sorts of discussions that came out of this conference. I hope I get invited to more conferences of this type in the future; it really was a special experience.
It was fascinating to see the actual digitization process at the Readex facility. I’d never even seen a Kirtas machine in action, so it was pretty cool to discover how the Serials Set goes from book form to the excellent digital product Readex puts out there. Lots of people, lots of time, lots of tech and lots of server space.
My talk went pretty well; it was on the topic of user-generated content in historical collections, which is actually something I knew very little about before I started researching it for the talk. It’s a truly fascinating topic though. I really believe that the way people view (and the stories they tell about) a historical work is just as important as the work itself. The impressions truly have historical value, and to make it easy for people to contribute those impressions gives cultural heritage organizations the opportunity to make their online collections so much richer.
I don’t remember being so nervous while giving a talk in a long time. The group was primarily made up of librarians with a lot of power from some major Universities. The average age definitely skewed a good deal older than I’m used to as well. I felt a bit out of my league, but really, everyone was so nice and open to my ideas. I think this again is a sign of the effect of the Internet on our profession; that people can be judged more for their ideas and contributions than for their fancy titles is something amazing to me. In so many professions, it’s all about the years you put in or the title you have. In those professions, I wouldn’t be taken seriously at all. It was also nice to talk to a different crowd than what I’m used to; at conferences like Internet Librarian, I sometimes feel like I’m largely preaching to the choir. Not that people don’t still benefit from the talks, but they’re coming to IL because they’re already pretty open to emerging tech.
I’d been feeling a little burnt out on speaking lately, but this talk reminded me that there are definitely some gigs out there that I can really benefit from and feel energized by. All in all, I had a lot more fun than I expected. And I even developed a new professional platonic crush. Don’t worry Roy, I’m still crushing on you too. 😉
These small conferences are, in my experience, wonderful! I have been to 2 now. One had between 100-120 people, depending on the day, with most of us staying on site and eating 3 meals a day together at tables of 6. This led to constant regroupings of persons which was absolutely wonderful! The 2nd had about 40 folks and was in Toronto (which was wonderful) but was not as intimate as we stayed all over and scattered to the winds for meals. But it was still very intimate during the conference sessions proper.
As for your newest crush, I may have to join you based on the closing paragraph on this post (http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2007/10/old_media_staff.html):
It’s also worth pointing out that while youth may pre-dispose toward fresh outlooks, I know plenty of older hands whose experiences have inexorably driven them toward openness, critique, and change; however, unless they are lucky enough to be seen as vectors of change, they are likely to be more frustratingly trapped by ageism than the young can ever yet imagine. They are as much a part of the brain drain as the flight of the young.
The situation isn’t as bad as it was a year or so ago when Leslie Burger announced her leadership program that (at first) directly correlated new librarian with 35 and under. I don’t hold her entirely responsible as that was the definite tenor of most conversations regarding new librarians both online and off-line. But that view is and has been for a historically good while wrong.
So mad props to Peter! And while all of us new librarians are cleaning up some of the issues of transparency, change, and other important issues, perhaps we can work on the ageism that is prevalent in our profession. And, yes, I am quite aware that it works both ways! But as I wrote several times on my blog in the past, I am an ally in this one.
Glad you had an energizing conference, Meredith! You certainly deserved it.
Hey Mark, I totally agree that ageism goes both ways. The idea that people under 40 are the only ones who can really implement these emerging technologies (or who are open to them) is absurd. There are people in this profession who have been “2.0” for decades before the term existed. I guess every generation tends to thinks they invented change and that everything was stagnant before they got there. I’m just glad to see that things are opening up more… that we can really be judged by the things that matter (our ideas, what we’ve done, etc), not the surface stuff that doesn’t (age, position, gender, etc.).
Thanks, Meredith, for your comments on user generated content. I am totally with you on your point that the view of the work has historical relevance as the work itself does. I have a growing interest in user generated content, and I think this is one of the many excellent points that can be made on behalf of providing patrons with the opportunity to create or add their own content. 🙂 I’m glad your talk went well!
Phew! I was worried there for a bit. 😉
[…] am also delighted that my Facebook-friend, Meredith, is now a real world friend as well; she has an account of the conference on her blog, and her own presentation is at […]