Tuesday, October 16, 2007

NELA, again.

If you are interested in the two sessions I blogged, you can find them here, and here. I attended two other sessions and took notes, but they were also blogged by other people here, and here. To be honest, I had nothing new to add, and in the case of Brian's post, his notes were much better than mine. Blogging a conference was more difficult - or maybe more time-consuming is the right term - than I thought it would be. If I do it again, I will probably attempt to take notes on the computer rather than by hand.

Overall, I thought the sessions I attended were informative, interesting, and generally well-done. People seem to know their stuff and have a genuine affinity for presenting it. Presenting is a lot of work.

I was, however, surprised at the number of presenters that did not offer handouts, and did not have some way to access their presentations online for later review. A listener has a lot of information to absorb in a short amount of time, and I think it's a really good idea to either have handouts available hitting the high points, or to make the presentation available online. That way people can go back to things they may have missed. Even if the slides are simply pictures, it may be helpful - or entertaining - to see them again.

In fact, at the end of one presentation, someone asked if the PowerPoint was available online - and the answer was, "um, no." It was clear that the presenter didn't know this was an option - or perhaps didn't know how to go about getting it online - and it was also clear that the technical difficulties during the program (not the presenter's fault) lent to people wanting to be able to access the program at a later date. I commented that if the presenters were interested in posting their slides online - pretty much whenever they had a spare minute - they could do so at slideshare, tag them NELA, and we could find them. Everyone in the room looked at me like I was a freak, and not a librarian trying to be helpful and get people what they wanted, which was access to this presentation - but - sigh - whatever.

And speaking of tech problems, that was another issues that reared its head on Monday - the wifi at the conference center SUCKED, and pretty much didn't work at all Monday morning. This left a few presenters up a creek that they didn't expect to have to paddle (no, the rooms were not equipped with hard-lined access [?]). Should a presenter have a reasonable expectation that the technology that is supposed to be provided will actually work? Of course. And they have every right to be pissed if it doesn't. But, if you have a presentation that relies heavily on being connected to the internet, I think it's a good idea to have a Plan B for instances such as this. Yeah, that's a pain, and means extra work, but you may thank yourself later if you end up having to rely on that back-up presentation you put together using handouts or screen caps.

So, if you are presenting, think handouts, think online access for attendees (and, those not fortunate enough to be able to attend your talk!), and think Plan B for possible tech issues. If you are not familiar with posting your presentations online, you might find this post useful.

I came away with some cool information, and a raging desire to have Library Thing integrated with our catalog (ha!).

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