As I had decided to focus on discovery and research themes at this conference, the morning session was helpful for getting short quick updates from vendors on discovery products. The vendor presentations were 12 minutes each with a few minutes in between for delegates to scuttle off to other rooms if necessary. For me I hung around in the Plenary Hall for most of it, where the Discovery stream of presentations was held.
Shout out to @michellemclean (Connecting Librarian) for her chairing skills. Michelle was on the organising committee, so was involved in chairing various sessions. The most dynamic session was where she managed to get interpretive dance from @paulhagon and gymnastics from @malbooth during the lull while the glitches with technology were smoothed out. As Kathryn Greenhill pointed out "Twitter encourages childish behaviour at conferences And there should be more of it…"
The vendor sessions on discovery tools helped to consolidate my ideas in this area, pick out which booths I had to visit in the trade exhibition and will feed into my 3 point strategy I'll report to MPOW. (I want to keep it simple, but maybe it will require more than 3 points. It's still brewing)
In the afternoon I was impressed by @paulhagon's experimental work at the National Library of Australia using image analysis to create metadata. Imagine searching your image collection by colour. Paul Hagon's website has more of his work.
I also attended Paul Bonnington's presentation on the changing landscape of research. He reported that research data is an increasingly important part of the institution's intellectual property and therefore care is taken for long term storage, preservation, access and legal obligations. This paper also touched on the Australian Code for Responsible Conduct of Research. The chief message I got from this presentation is that academic (and special libraries) have a key role to play in the curation of research data at their institutions. Success in research data curation is demonstrated where there is a partnership between the researcher, IT services, library, research office and archivists - and where the researchers feel that they own and take responsibility for the e-infrastructure.
Stephanie Orlic had the sympathy of the entire cohort of delegates in the afternoon when the technology failed in the plenary hall. Her presentation included video of a pilot project in Tokyo where some of the Louvre's collection was set up with multimedia and augmented reality technology to change the visitor's experience of the objects. We eventually got to see the video at the end of the presentation. You can see the videos online at the Louvre DNP Museum Lab.
The Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre is a new venue, not just for VALA, but it is a newly constructed building. Admittedly VALA is one of those conferences where the early adopters are going to throw sophisticated requirements at the technology infrastructure, but there was general surprise at how many delegates were reporting wifi drop outs, poor telephone reception (when the wifi dropped out many tried to use their 3g dongles) and how many presenters had problems with multimedia, or no access to browsers other than IE. I count myself lucky to have had no wifi problems and must compliment the VALA committee for following up on issues and the technicians who responded quickly