Thursday, October 26, 2006

Internet Librarian Conference Traditions

I believe I have discovered why some librarians make a habit of returning to annual Internet Librarian conferences in Monterey. Of course, they come for practical information relevant to their profession and to collect new ideas, but that is not reason enough to come when they could be attending other conferences, studying the literature, reading profession/industrial news, and communicating with other professional via the Internet. They come because they know they will be engaged and entertained. They know there will be presentations that include audience participation and a chance to win prizes. In other words, games (one of the themes of the conference) are actually incorporated into presentations. Also, they know the presenters who return each year to act as game masters. Attendees learn while they laugh.

Barbara Fullerton, Sabrina Pacifici, and Aaron Schmidt drew a big crowd on Monday afternoon for their traditional program Gadgets, Gadgets, Gadgets. Each took a turn showing a slide of a serious or silly new technological product and telling why it would be popular. Portable MP3 players, translation devices, and handheld computers were shown with digital rubber ducks, haircutting machines, and Japanese robots. Many of the products were only available in Japan, Korea, or the European Union. During the program the presenters asked questions and gave prizes for the quickest correct answers. There was lots of laughing.

On Wednesday afternoon Steven M. Cohen led his annual What's Hot and New with Social Software. The tradition is that he has an A to Z list of names that the audience tries to guess before he reveals his answer. Many of the answers are websites but some are categories of websites or names of people in the profession. Some audience members win Starbuck's cards when they guess Steven's answers first. After he finished with his list, librarians in the audience called out websites they thought everyone should see and Steven would project them. Of all the websites shown in the session, I was most interested in the online image editors (,, which allow photos to be cropped or resized without downloading software. Steven also showed the Zoho website, which has a word processor, spread sheet, slideshow, and other online products. Steven ended the presentation with video of his three year old daughter, which might be another tradition.

For more details on these programs, read the Librarian in Black's reports Gadgets, Gadgets, Gadgets and What's Hot & New with Social Software.

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