Conferences. They MUST change the way they think about attendees’ needs. Two conferences in a row, both locations offer free wifi for anyone who brings in a laptop, but there is no plan for how those said folks will “power up.” Okay so I’m wise to this. As I pack my things for the conferences, I tuck in my bag a powerstrip. It came in handy at both conferences, as usually if I arrived at a session late, all I had to do was show my powerstrip, and instantly I had six to eight friends.
In Fort Lauderdale this week, I met with my “group” I was working with (Joyce Valenza, Jim Ulsh, and Chris Harris) to work out some logistics of our plan to empower the SLJ Summit in a 2.0 way. We met in the lobby, but quickly realized we needed power. So we relocated to another nearby table at the sushi bar (which wasn’t open at the same time.) But this time instead of the 8 outlet surge I just brought a six foot obscenely bright orange power cord that had three outlets (space was an issue when packing). Four people and three outlets do not make for a happily connected group (the outlet we had access to was already in use by another person in the lobby.) But Chris had a smaller power strip (all tech people have the coolest toys) and pretty soon we were churning along.
We worked handily on the Ning widgets and components and the Cover-it-Live set up so that we could feed in content about the summit. We launched and advertised tags and hashtags so folks could have their content (pictures, tweets, blog posts, etc) feed to the School Library Journal Summit Ning. We discussed the goal of live blogging sessions, sharing links w/ other attendees and virtual attendees, and setting up the Ustream (which by the way the Ustream failed miserably) for the panel discussion Joyce was moderating. As people came through the lobby we looked like a strange group–each with our eyes basically glued to our screens, but carrying on simultaneous conversations despite multitasking on our laptops. Some one said or group needed a “name” so we brainstormed one, and here is what we came up with–> Your outlet or mine? To reflect on that is funny now.
Which brings me back to my original point. We need to consider those who bring laptops to conferences, and arrange a section of each concurrent session room and keynote for those who need to plug in. More and more we have connections that go on during the conference, and strive to share or bring in virtual attendees in one way another, so TPTB need to consider this need. I’m on the Informational Technology Committee for SCASL, and we have a meeting Tuesday evening–a virtual meeting. I will ask the chair of this committee to relay this need to the SCASL President-elect (in charge of conference planning), and perhaps the local arrangements chair so that MAYBE this service will be freely offered. BUT I will still plan to carry my multi outlet strip (and probably make a lot of new friends again.)
What? You want to know about the SLJ Summit. I’m still working on my draft about that. But I sure will be glad to GET HOME. It’s HOT in Fort Lauderdale. And I’ve been sitting here at the airport since 4:00 or so. My plane doesn’t leave until 7ish. Sigh.