6 February 2008

Reflections on a few busy days

I started writing this yesterday evening at the airport - wrote some more during the flight, but only got around to uploading it now....

I’ve barely gathered my thoughts on Beyond the Hype in Brisbane and my short attendance at VALA in Melbourne has already drawn to an end. So I’m here at Melbourne airport with 15 minutes until boarding thinking about what a whirlwind it has been this last week. Friday and Saturday I was in Brisbane at QUT attending Beyond the Hype: Web 2.0.

I gave a presentation on Libraries Interact on the Saturday afternoon. The timing seemed to be all wrong in that session of 3 papers. Mine was started early, and for a while I couldn’t figure out why I’d come to the end a minute or two early but then realised I’d skipped a bit about my blogging experience prior to Libraries Interact. Ah well!

The L plate series presentations on Monday afternoon were much better timed. 4pm though is a tough time of the day to get an audience motivated so I hope they enjoyed it. It was difficult to judge the level to pitch at. After all, they were attending a technology conference (VALA), but we were asked to give an overview that would introduce concepts, terms, services and products that they would hear more about during the rest of the conference. Tough call when talking about blogging since it has been around for years but did my best. I was much happier with the 2nd presentation which was an updated version of the 20 cool tools one at QULOC Social Software and Libraries. This time only 30 minutes so it had to be quick and snappy to showcase a few worthwhile services. Remember the Milk was included and Irma caught up with me the next day to give RTM another glowing report. She uses it as a business tool. She suggested that next time it would be good to include something on managing online identities cleaning up after yourself was the idea especially if you have been careless with the power of global publication. I reckon that’s a presentation all on its own. I showed a few gadgets from Think Geek.com which brought on a few lighter moments. Even the technician’s eyes lit up when he saw the WiFi detecting t-shirt. And that was about 5 minutes before the end of the day’s session.

VALA proper started with a somewhat technical, but very interesting presentation on repositories and how some thinking about web 2.0 and social engagement needs to be incorporated into making the experience for academics a more relevant exercise. Andy Powell was the keynote speaker. Later, I attended Danny Kingsley’s paper on a repositories – engaging academics in the repository movement. This time the message was about considering the academic’s disciplinary approach to scholarly publishing and information seeking behaviour when preparing to introduce a change, like mandating deposit in an institutional repository. I’m glad these were both on the same day, since I was only at VALA for the first day. The second paper compared chemists, computer scientists and sociologists and it is quite clear that their incentives to deposit in repositories is coloured by their discipline’s approach to scholarly publishing. Often this is quite at odds with their institution’s requirement for them to make their research openly accessible. The keynote also illustrated the point that their research network is not their institution and that a global approach like arxiv’s is more engaging for them, but funding models are generally institutional or at best national. How to fund a global approach? How to use content from institutional repositories to work with a global social networking system to provide an ideal package?