Sharing and Online Discussions at ILI 2012
On Tuesday and Wednesday I had a stimulating 2 days at ILI 2012, the Internet Librarian International conference. The 14th in the series got off to a great start with the invited plenary talk on “Stop Lending and Start Sharing” by R. David Lankes, Syracuse University School of Information Studies Director, Information Institute of Syracuse. Although David Lankes was not able to be physically present at the event due to ill health, his pre-recorded video, inm which he argued that the future of libraries is not in our collections or a building, but in our relationships with those we serve, provided a stimulating start to the conference.
David argued that librarians should start sharing. But to a great extent that call simply describes what many librarians who attended the ILI 2012 event are already doing. It was possible to see the importance placed on such sharing activities at the event by looking at how the event’s hashtag, #ILI2012, was used to support sharing activities.
The Epilogger service currently shows that 106 photographs and 825 links were shared on the conference hashtag in over 4,000 links.
Another Twitter archiving and analysis service, Eventifier, provides similar statistics: the service informs us that to date there have been 100 photographs and 10 videos shared in 4,248 links provided by 548 contributors.
In addition to these two services Martin Hawksey’s TAGS (Twitter Archiving Google Spreadsheet) service and the accompanying TAGSExplorer tool also provide fascinating analyses of use of twitter at the event. The TAGS service tells us that there were 4,041 tweets containing 782 links, with @infointuitive and @AlisonMcNab posting the largest number of tweets by a significant margin: with 288 and 269 tweets respectively. The visualisation of the network connections provided by TAGSExplorer, together with the top conversationalists, is shown below.
It should also be noted that the TAGS search interface also enables the tweets posted by individuals to be examined. The example below shows all tweets posted by @infointuitive during the period of the ILI 2012 event.
I should also add that in addition to the discussions and sharing which took place on Twitter, additional sharing of resources was also provided by many of the speakers who made their slides available on Slideshare or provided links to their slides and related resources on the event’s Lanyrd page.
Does Sharing on Mobile Devices Hinder Real World Discussions?
But did too much sharing take place at the event? Were the ILI 2012 participants spending so much time on their mobile devices that they failed to talk to each other over coffee and at the lunch break? A suggestion along these lines was made during the concluding session at ILI 2012 in which people were asked “What horrified you?”. Funnily enough I had made a similar, although tongue-in-cheek, suggestion when I tweeted the following which contained the accompanying photograph:
I should add that I asked permission to publish the photograph, having explained that I wanted to make a joke about participants at the conference seemingly not being willing to talk to others, according to the evidence of the photograph.
In reality, I would argue that use of Twitter at conferences helps to develop new links and strengthen existing connections. As an example, having noticed, via a tweet, that @MSPhelps (Bianca Kramer) had given “an impromptu presentation on @UniUtrechtLib Twitterbot at#ili2012 workshop” I put her in touch with Gary Green (@ggnewed), who was giving a talk on use of IFTTT:
They subsequently exchanged tweets and met.
I have also made use of Twitter whilst giving a presentation. During the talk on “What Does The Evidence Tell Us About Institutional Repositories?” given by myself and Jenny Delasalle I noticed, while Jenny was talking, a tweet from @archelina (Rachel P) which commented:
I immediately responded:
@archelina let’s chat about that later
and, after the talk was over, we met and I provided further examples of the benefits of ‘white hat SEO’ for raising the visibility of research publications.
On the train home from the conference I saw a tweet from @archelina in which she provided a link to her reflections on the ILI 2012 conference and, in particular, her thoughts on tweeting at conferences. I’ll leave the last significant comment to her:
Speaking of Twitter, there was an interesting comment in the closing plenary today about the fact that so many of us were glued to our mobile devices, even in breaks, rather than interacting with those around us. I agreed with the commenter that sitting in silence round a lunch table all absorbed in our separate online worlds is not exactly healthy, but at the same time I can’t imagine a conference without Twitter. It’s partly the way it extends the reach of the conference itself by letting people follow without attending in person. It’s partly the lively backchannel that it provides in parallel to (and sometimes in opposition to, or spiralling out from) the live conference. But it’s mainly because I’m shy, and Twitter is like a sandbox for social/professional interaction that lets me build relationships (whether based around gin, dresses, The Archers, repositories, cataloguing or all of the above) before actually taking the plunge and introducing myself to someone in real life. In other words, I’m more likely to speak to people at conferences if I’ve ‘met’ them online already, and my professional life is much better now I have this option. (I’d probably never have take the step of actually *presenting* at a conference if it wasn’t for Twitter and my connections and support there.) It works the other way too, with real life events and networking enriching my Twitter life; by the end of today I had a dozen new followers who’d been at the conference. So yes, I’ll still be packing my trusty tablet next time I go to an event. But no ‘tweating’ (tweeting with one hand while having lunch with other), I promise…
These views were echoed by others:
#ili2012 Someone suggest that social interaction in the conference was inhibited by mobile devices. I don’t agree- the networking was great.
although one person suggested that perhaps a compromise could be reached:
Our message to david – we are sharing and building through twitter and online but maybe next year we say no tweeting over dinner? #ili2012
I’d be interested in thoughts from others on this issue.
View Twitter conversation from: [Topsy]