My first LITA National Forum was an excellent experience and I would encourage anyone interested to try to attend. I enjoyed how the theme of cloud computing carried on through the entire conference. Unlike some larger conferences with multiple themes, this focus on a primary theme at a smaller conference really gave the participants some time to think about cloud computing, the issues around it and its importance in today’s world. If you would like to see the general session by Roy Tennant or by Ross Singer, you can check them out online at: http://www.ustream.tv/user/lita_ala/videos
In the '2010 LITA National Forum' Category...
LITA has been very good this year. After an interesting keynote session on Friday I went to a presentation on click analytics by Tabatha Farney at U of Colorado, Colorado Springs. She discussed a few tools including Crazy Egg and some open source tools that allow you to gather heat map and other types of use data on your site.
She talked about the relationship between this type of use statistic and other forms of user research and suggested that combining the two approaches helped them get a better understanding of how they should design their site.
On Saturday Susan, Kevin and I attended a session on using Scrum in libraries to develop software by Michelle Frisque. Scrum is a technique that focuses on selecting features or bug fixes to fit into a development window (called a sprint). A few of the neat features of Scrum is that it uses an interdisciplinary team approach to make sure that a group of developers and stakeholders are responsible for development and testing.
I also attended an interesting session on the data for research toolkit in JSTOR. I had never heard of DFR before but it is a site focused on providing researchers text, subject, and bibilometric data from the JSTOR repository. One amazing stat from the session was the number 80 million – the number of parsed citations in their database. There are some really interesting opportunities in the database for digital humanities work and it can also simply be used as a faceted search interface.
Susan did a good job hosting a networking dinner Saturday night and we had the opportunity to catch up with Andy Morton.
As Susan mentioned in her post, the new Library van made it possible for five of us to attend the 2010 LITA Forum. Additionally, I was able to take advantage of the funds from the Summer Technology Exploration Grant I received to cover 25% of my costs to attend.
The topic of the Opening General Session was “How Wikipedia Really Works, and What This Means for the Nature of “Truth”" presented by Amy Bruckman. She led with a story about learning of her great uncle’s death by way of a watch she had set up on his Wikipedia entry. Interestingly, the notice of his death was accurate, but was taken off Wikipedia because the information was not cited. It was not until his death could be documented by the social security death index that the information was allowed in the wikipedia article.
She also discussed the nature of our subjective perceptions and how when they have a high degree of correlation it determines what is true, thus there are social processes that help us determine what is true. For example numerous editors on a Wikipedia entry can help users feel more confident of the content. Wikipedia articles are supposed to be neutral and factual, and a tremendous admin structure to Wikipedia helps ensure this. It is not the “free for all” it is perceived to be. Bruckman’s presentation was a good opportunity to learn about Wikipedia’s current state of affairs.
Next I attended “The Other IT Crowd: Managing and Developing Accidental Geeks in the Library” led by Beatrice Pulliam. She discussed how applications like the MS Outlook Task Function, Jing, LibGuides, and other technologies get people out of their silos and get them working together and implementing new, empowering technologies with very little effort or cost. She suggested the book “Don’t Make Me Think” and the study guides from Lynda.com.
I also attended an interesting session by Librarians from the University of Alabama called “Rethinking the Library Game: Creatian Alternate Reality with Social Media” Jason J Battles, Valerie Glenn, and Lindsey Shedd discussed Project Valious, an ARG-Alternate reality game (interactive narrative game, think interactive “Lost”) They discussed the challenges of creating and running the game and the lessons learned. They discussed how it was successful, but a challenge to replicate.
Next I attended “Making Your IT Skills Virtual: Tools for learning how to implement and administer cloud based systems” by our very own Erik Mitchell, JP Bessou, and Kevin Gilbertson. They did an excellent job describing ZSR’s migration to the cloud and the major themes of running services in the cloud, IT Sevices Management for librarians, what we learned and what’s next.
On Saturday morning, the General Session was amazing! Roy Tenant of OCLC Research discussed “Using the Cloud to Please the Crowd” He discussed the power of the cloud, the hype of the cloud, and even managed to use the phrase “paradigm shift” without getting jeered by the audience! He reviewed the history of computing that has lead to cloud computing or commodity servers set up in parallel a la Google. Tennant described how cloud computing leads us to on demand service, like electricity, with infinite immediately available computing power and no need to plan for scaling! Infrastructure becomes someone else’s headache and ther is no mad scramble to deal with things like usage spikes. Computing power has become a commodity and tools on the cloud are cheap and getting cheaper. Now there is no barrier to innovation on the web. He also discussed ubiquitous information and how files need to exist in the cloud to be available everywhere anytime. The audience asked very aggressive questions after Tennant’s program. There was some animosity toward the cloud. Tennant explained the cloud was not apanacea but a tool which of which we should take advantage!
I also attended my first Pecha Kucha, which wason Technology in the Library. Christine Ayer, Rob Cullin, and Kimberly Bolan-Cullin presented on topics ranging from risk management to tools for mobile sites and materials vending machines for patrons.
Now I’m off to more presentations! I’ll wrap up the conference in my next post!
This year’s LITA National Forum is being held in Atlanta. There are 5 of us here from ZSR Library, probably the largest representation we’ve ever had at a single Forum. One big impact of this fact is that we were able to take advantage of the new library van to transport all of us down the road. There is nothing better than a road trip that starts in the back parking lot behind ZSR at 4:30 am!
I am on the conference planning committee again, so most of my weekend is involved with introducing speakers, helping with logistics and hosting a networking dinner tonight. Giz is attending his first Forum and Erik/Kevin/JP came to do a presentation on our cloud project.
We arrived in time to settle in and be ready for the opening keynote by Amy Bruckman, who talked about “How Wikipedia Works and What This Means for the Nature of Truth.” She talked about Wikipedia in terms of being a constructionist learning environment but said it has produced a epistemology crisis. With a source that is collectively created, how do we understand what to believe, what is objective or subjective? She believes it is through social agreement, or peer review. And this is what Wikipedia does through its framework of authors, editors and administrators. She offered several interesting perspectives in support of the value of Wikipedia and it was a great start to the weekend.
I was fortunate to be the one to introduce our cloud experts for their session (OK I admit I arranged to do it!). I’m sure each of them will give their perspectives, but the 70 minute talk was well received from a room that had standing room only. Often, the real test of the success of a presentation is how many questions are generated, and how many people hang after to talk to the speakers. Using those criteria, the talk was a resounding success with plenty of thoughtful questions posed (and good answers returned) and plenty of post-session conversations.
Today promises another full day with a keynote by Roy Tennant and concurrent sessions. So more to come!