An Idea For A New Online Library Technology Conference

Steve Lawson picked up on an idea from Meredith Farkas for a new online conference "that sort of fits into the big space between something like Internet Librarian and something like Code4Lib." He brings up some good questions:
What would such a conference cover?
Who would teach or present at such a conference?
Is an online conference really the right way to learn this kind of thing?
Lastly, Meredith writes about people feeling “over their head” at code4lib. Is that bad?

I'm with Steve on this... I still think the idea of such a conference is interesting, and I'm curious to see how other people feel about some of these questions.


One thing that I think would be interesting would be videos loaded to the web that discussed actual use of technology in a library. If a library is doing something innovative they could record a ten minute video giving an overview of what they are doing. Include interviews with the major players that made it happen and the people that use it. If two libraries were doing the same thing both videos could be interesting and not redundant because the inner workings of how things are done at each library would be interesting. To see the subtle differences of how libraries create solutions would be very interesting.

Other librarians could then make video responses to the original video or embed the video in their blog and comment on it.

all these things are virtually free to produce. then all you need is a place to host the files that includes a chat function and comments and that can handle 100+ simultaneous users (I guess I'm being optimistic?).

I usually want to see how others are doing things. I can read about new products and services online without attending a conference. Tell me what works and how you implemented it and what it costs to maintain. And put your hottest librarians in the videos. Is that too much to ask?

Finding a venue in the Las Vegas metro would be probably cheaper. Streaming video costs big bucks to have happen. No consumer-grade broadband connection would support any such event. I am minded to consider the server farm that Qik has in terms of the amount of systems needed just to support this.

Leo Laporte is definitely not on consumer-grade broadband at the TWiT cottage. He has three separate connections to the outside world. One is a T-1 which is decidedly not consumer grade. Another is a cable broadband connection. The third is a simple DSL connection. Different systems at the TWiT cottage are used for different things. The video is pumped out over the T-1. Skype calls are handled exclusively on the DSL as its only traffic. The cable broadband handles general traffic.

The upgrades to the TWiT cottage took corporate sponsorship from folks like Stickam and Audible. Who in the library world has that kind of money to throw around right now? Wouldn't that money be better spent on remediating collections and staffing gaps? Unless such was used year-round I would be highly hesitant to even ask for that sort of an investment.

What Leo Laporte does looks like it is inexpensive. That is just a by-product of him being in broadcasting for so long and trying to take a graceful approach. We try to do the same thing on our end producing listen. While we may open the kimono occasionally as does Mr. Laporte, only Blake has any sort of full picture about what actually goes on behind the scenes in terms of budget costs and more.

To do something like this in Las Vegas cheaply enough would require getting a church space. Depending upon what can be agreed, space could be made available either fairly cheaply to potentially free. Flights to Vegas are rarely empty so fares are lower in some cases than other destinations. Depending upon the available site, getting set up for an event like this would potentially only run $75,000 to $100,000 provided the cost can be recouped from admission prices. Mind you, that would be in an optimistic scenario that would probably have to take place in Henderson.

There may be vendors on the floor at New Media Expo who specialize in these sorts of online escapades. Is there any wish for such to be sought out? We'll be on the floor Friday barring any problems erupting. Either leave a comment, call, or send me an appropriately encrypted e-mail using the PGP key identified below.
Stephen Michael Kellat, Host, LISTen
PGP KeyID: 899C131F

>Flights to Vegas are rarely empty so fares are lower in some cases than other destinations.

Why are we considering people flying to Vegas? Wasn't the idea a virtual conference. Meaning I can stay at home and no air travel is involved.

>Streaming video costs big bucks to have happen. No consumer-grade >broadband connection would support any such event.

I was just thinking that if people made a video they could load it to Google Video.

Using a non-interactive system to attempt real-time interactive functions? I thought that live interaction was the idea being pushed. Otherwise we'd have nothing different than CNET TV or the PBS channel found on digital subsidiary channels known as Create. That actually would be way harder to pull of than just a one-time streaming environment. That would come back far more easily to the Las Vegas idea for trying to have a virtual conference in parallel with a physical conference.

Google Video is broken abandonware as it is ever since Google acquired YouTube, anyhow. It doesn't work all that well. Google's big effort now is to try to actually get some sort of cognizable revenue out of YouTube so it can at least show up in the financials.
Stephen Michael Kellat, Host, LISTen
PGP KeyID: 899C131F

>I thought that live interaction was the idea being pushed.

Not necessarily. Why live? Why not allow people to watch the video anytime and then post comments. Google video is fully operational. All you have to do is link to the video. If not Google video then YouTube or some other variation.

We could have a real cool conference real cheap. The thing that would make it cool is creative people becoming involved. If the free and cheap tools that abound on the web are use to their maximum benefit something really neat could be created.

Okay, that's a bizarre notion. That's also way out of alignment with user experience guidelines. There would not necessarily be feedback and discussion created through a YouTube-like posting that would be considered worthwhile.
Stephen Michael Kellat, Host, LISTen
PGP KeyID: 899C131F

You load a video to YouTube and then you embed it on the page where you actually want the discussion to happen. That way you can ignore the comments from the YouTube rabble. Man, does no one have any ability to think outside the box?

There are reasons why I would never use YouTube for a project like this, even if embedded. A big one is that YouTube is not on a firm foundation. For simple financial reasons, Google may have to eventually shut the site down unless it can turn a profit. Right now it cannot even show enough activity to merit mentioning in Google's financial reports. With the waxing and waning of the economy, I really would not want to gamble on YouTube's viability. As a publicly held company there comes a point where you cannot subsidize any further a revenue-eating money pit before there is a shareholder revolt or someone like Carl Icahn comes to visit.

YouTube also has length limits. Depending upon the topic, you can barely graze the surface in ten minutes. While these limits are supposedly lifted, I am doubtful how long that that can continue. Length limits would introduce quite a bit of choppiness into the flow.

YouTube doesn't play nice with partners either. From what contact I have had with YouTube content partners, YouTube is fairly arbitrary dealing with its partners. An effort like this, perhaps thankfully, would not meet the prerequsites for being a content partner.

In many cases I am told to stop feeding trolls. If you're going to call me names like that, you meet the definition. There are things that are truly thinking outside the box. What you propose under a cloak of anonymity is really a bad idea that ignores far too much of the standards and practices that do exist let alone paths already trod. History did not start ten minutes ago and some of these proposed paths have already been trodden by others.

Goodnight Mr./Ms./Mrs. Troll. I must not feed you further. I suggest a nice cup of tea and a lie down as being helpful things.
Stephen Michael Kellat, Host, LISTen
PGP KeyID: 899C131F

I bet you one jelly donut that YouTube will not fail or be shut down by Google in the next year.

Thanks for picking this up Blake. It's nice to see more ideas coming across over here.

For me, if such a thing is going to work it needs to:

* Be narrowly focused on a specific audience. In this case, people who are already familiar with social software, but want to improve their coding/scripting/etc. skills and move up the geek food chain.
* Be interactive and synchronous at times to get people communicating in real time.
* Have a robust asynchronous component for conversations outside those appointed real-time interactions.

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