Tuesday, April 1, 2008

PLA: "If you're not comfortable with experimenting, get over it!"

I really enjoyed the Public Library Association conference in Minneapolis last week. Six days away from home, but it was worth the time. There were many highlights for me, and I'll write about some of the sessions in detail. Things I liked:

  • excellent program -- too many good choices for sessions
  • a fine reception at the very cool Open Book in Minneapolis -- "Minnesota's enter for reading, writing and the book arts"
  • online resources -- downloadable handouts and PowerPoints make a lot of information accessible even for non-attendees
  • talking with many vendors
  • meeting people and comparing notes on the programs, vendors and our jobs -- including face-to-face meetings with people I've only known online
  • spending time with my daughter, Gillian, as professional colleagues; color me proud
One of the most inspirational and empowering programs was "The Cutting Edge: the latest on Web 2.0." Speakers included Jen Maney (Pima County Public Library), Michael Stephens (Tame the Web & the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University) and John Blyberg (formerly AADL, now the Darien Library). The entire presentation is online as an .MP3 file; I recommend listening while reading along on the handouts.

Jen Maney noted that 2.0 levels the playing field and is not a technological phenomenon, but a sociological one. She said "if you're not comfortable with experimenting, get over it!" She encouraged us to play, to know that we can't do it all and to pick and choose -- her motto is "Designing for Uncertainty".

Michael Stephens had a lengthy and detailed PowerPoint (large .pdf version) with lots of good examples and reminded us that though we talk about and use technology, it's not about technology. 2.0 is "not a shiny new toy, but a carefully planned response to a changing world."

John Blyberg humorously and beautifully deconstructed Andrew Keen's Cult of the Amateur and defended the virtues of Web 2.0 with this PowerPoint. He noted we need to "encourage the heart." Thanks for lifting those lingering twopointopian guilt trips.

Nobody was lifting up 2.0 or any technology as a panacea or bandwagon, but talking about interesting new ways to implement our enduring values.

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