Some clarification re:conferences

Just some quick thoughts about my recent posts, as responses to comments.

Todd said:

Virtual meetings are all very nice, but its never the same as meeting people in person. In addition, real-life conferences give you a chance to see places you might not have gone otherwise…virtual conferences mean you stay right where you are.

I completely agree. My suggestion to virtualize aspects of the conference experience are not intended to downplay the value of face-to-face meetings. It’s just that we need to recognize that F2F isn’t necessary for communication to happen…it brings bonuses, but for the purposes of conducting business (like, for instance, the ALA Midwinter meeting), virtual is the appropriate realm.

Tom Hogan said:

Jason, thanks for attending Internet Librarian in Monterey, and I hope you found it worthwhile. As I mentioned in my little welcome speech, we had a record turnout this year, which is due primarily to the variety and excellence of the presentations from people dedicated to the information profession.

I’m sure that online conferences have their place, but I have to agree with Todd that people still want to meet in person from time to time. As long as that holds true, Information Today will continue to organize them. Regards.

Hi Tom! I was one of your “people dedicated to the information profession” that presented at IL this year. I was one of the faculty for what I believe was the largest preconference at IL.

Again, I’m not saying that virtual is done at the expense of F2F. Ideally it should be done in conjunction with…the very fact that we are talking as if there is a dichotomy between the two is ludicrous.

The truth is that the best librarians I know are both virtual and physical, all the time. They are connected, and consider their prioperceptive virtual self without effort. They are the librarians that you saw at IL who were sitting next to each other, blogging the session, updating Twitter, and IM’ing the person next to them with comments about the session. To pretend that being at IL “in real life” precludes a virtual component is to miss the forest for the trees.

My point is that we also should be reversing this equation: we should be making the virtual a significant and integral part of the ongoing F2F conference experience. The fact that at a conference called Internet Librarian we still have physical pieces of paper for people to sign up for dinners around town is, to put it mildly, amusing.