Proposals for Denver '08 – Instructional Round Robin

Okay, first, I’ll be pitching New Voices again. It’s wildly popular and has a permanent place–which I’m trying to solidify through the professional development committee.

Second, I’m going to pitch a large instructional rotating mega-session. Now, how to do this for an organization that is so stuck on old structures of “sessions” and “workshops.” I’m basing it on the “cyber zed shed” model used at ACRL this spring. Here’s a visual:

I would like to propose a 5-6 hour station, with 30 minute turns in the exhibit hall. We can do half demos (this is how you set up a blog, this is how you set up a wiki) and then half “real-world” implementations of this technology. I’d like to get corporate sponsorship for this from someone like wordpress or flickr.

Also, I’d like to rabble rouse a bit on what the CPAC spends money on as a “keynote” speaker. I loved the Art Guys in Houston. But frankly, this format drags out convocation and we have topics of little relevance to us art professionals. If we had other invited speakers throughout, it would be fine, but since there is no topical keynote, it seems like a waste. Currently, Lawrence Lessig is involved with a copyright lawsuit brought about by some of the folks that work on the internet archive. It’s a lay person’s (read, not film or recording industry) attempt to break down some of the current copyright restriction and hammer out the orphan works issue. Bringing in some of those folks would be really cool…

Any thoughts???


  1. We’ve started talking about some of this in the “Sessions for Denver Conference in ’08” thread here:

    As I mention there, I’m all for having a booth in the exhibits hall to do some one-on-one tutorials on web 2.0 stuff. I’ve been chatting with some Denver folks about this, and they’re all for it. I also like the idea of sponsorship, but I’m hoping that wouldn’t mean that we could *only* show people wordpress and not blogger or some other free stuff out there. Has anyone ever gone through the steps of getting sponsorship?

    And New Voices is a must, as far as I’m concerned. It’s a great way to show what students and new professionals are bringing to the mix.

  2. Yeah, read comments, didn’t really seem to be “going there” so i started a different thread. The biggest challenge is that there isn’t a place on the static form set up by arlis to submit a proposal. This sort of static state is also reflected in the people doing the planning, so I’m a bit afraid of rejection all around. I don’t think the corporate sponsorship thing will be an issue, wordpress is sort of the academic standard at this point and out there with the open revolution, so i would guess they will be happy with their banner flying in our hall. But we’ll see. I’m thinking this whole thing could cost upwards of $2K. I want to focus too, much less on “how to do’s” and much more on “this is what I did and how it worked or failed.” There are LOTS of sources for people to go to at this point for “how to’s.” So, not 30 minutes on wordpress, but rather 30 minutes on blogs all around. Or 30 minutes on “what is a wiki” and then a later 30 minutes on one wiki project relevent to our subject area. people tend to attach too much to the specifics of technology and not the transformative aspects of it. Let’s show them what they can do with these things in the context of the art library. But what I’m proposing is not a one-on-one thing. I honestly think that is a waste of time during a conference that we should all have the time we need to grab content ourselves. And that’s what folks need to get when they go back to their IT staff. Many of these people come from universities where they can get this content.

    New Voices, I want to pass off after this year. I’m going to stay with it to make sure it falls under a committee and thus has continuity, but I don’t want to narrow the vision of the selections every year by the sheer fact that I’m the only one doing the selections. Someone with 2 years or more out of school experience is welcome to contact me if they’d like to take it over and moderate for Denver.

  3. Ditto on the NV of 2008 panel.

    I highly advocate ARLIS/NA moving (at least in part) toward an unconference, specifically using Open Space Technology (in this concept, “technology” simply refers to a way of doing something). Elisa Lanzi and Jolene DeVerges (from Smith College) ran a session on interoperability issues at VRA using Open Space Technology. Here’s a link to pictures of meetings using Open Space Tech on Flickr.

    What do you all think?

  4. I think the idea of cyber zed shed is new and exciting, but there really should be new and exciting content delivered there. There are some very interesting future of IT in the humanities sorts of conferences that are going on–I’ll have to look up the names. “Digitial Humanities” is a major catch phrase now, and these are the types of conferences that professors and other library supporters are more likely to attend. Blogs and wikis are becoming dated technology, or the traditional models at least are constantly evolving. So, I think there really needs to be a focus on cutting edge technology. It is embarrassing, to say the least, to go to a conference to learn about something that our students knew about three years ago, or that many of us learned about in library school three years ago. Libraries should be leading the technological trends, or at least at the forefront, not at the tail end, in my opinion. Conferences could meet the needs of people at every skill level if sessions were designated for beginners, intermediate, and advanced tech users.

    There’s no reason why we can’t have the best of both worlds, a poster session for a less structured, one-on-one or small group opportunities, and the cyber zed shed. Actually, if the cyber zed shed could be marketed as a highly interactive digital poster session, it might be more readily accepted by the conference planning committee.

    Looking into the future, several ArLiSNAP members have close connections to the IU community and ARLIS-Midwest who are planning the 2009 conference in Indianapolis.

    I’m going to add a little extra info to this post title just to differentiate from the Sessions for Denver ’08 Conference post–please change if it doesn’t seem to fit the post. Also, I propose that we start a new post for each idea. There is now a Denver 2008 category/tag. This post can be the Cyber Zed Shed Mega Session post.

  5. You are totally right on that (other technologies). The thing is, I think a lot of folks still don’t know what they can do with those technologies in the context of art, and how those technologies work together. But yeah, I want to do a 30 minute blip on API’s and building tool sets for complex learning objects. I know someone (Mikael at St. Louis) has built a swank art reference portal (blog technology could be used there.) There are piles of projects out there that incorporate some of these specific technologies, but work with our subject area. There was a wonderful “digital humanities” conference happening at Duke a few weeks ago, called HASTAC. I would have loved to have gone…They had a session IN SECOND LIFE. Seems like we could do things like that as well.

    We need to call the mega session something else though, rather than the cyber zed shed. We can’t rip off ACRL!

  6. I agree with Megan that “Conferences could meet the needs of people at every skill level if sessions were designated for beginners, intermediate, and advanced tech users.”

    I wonder if we could do digital sessions that evolved throughout the course of the conference–starting on day one with some basic material (which some people still seem to need) and then quickly moving up into more complex current projects, then ending the conference with the really bleeding edge/future of stuff. This would provide something for everyone, and provide a bit of a programmatic way for getting people up to speed and then move quickly into the “beyond”. Plus, the format would reflect the different levels of technology at work in art libraries today and tomorrow.

    I also agree that we need to focus not just on technology, but on those technologies *within* the arts. Otherwise, we’re just duplicating the efforts of other conferences.

  7. I like the idea of digital sessions throughout the course of the conference increasing in complexity. The conference could also be a great place to brainstorm together how technologies could be used in art libraries. So, in addition to taking in a lot of new information, we would have the opportunity to discuss the practical collaborative or local application of the technology. At VRA, there were several opportunities for this sort of discussion, but we always ran out of time. We are a creative bunch of people, we should work together!

  8. Good point, Rebecca – what value can ARLIS members provide to each other that is specific to art information?

    I like your idea of gradual “ramping-up” of interactive sessions throughout the conference. What is also important to communicate to the Denver conference program planners (Jeanne Brown is one, I know) is that this Mega Session shouldn’t be opposite other major sessions. It probably wouldn’t work well during lunch or coffee breaks, either, as attendees usually just want to decompress from previous sessions.

  9. Okay, so just to consolidate ideas–and don’t think of this as a Mega Session–it’s a string of small talks so that people can hop in and out, so should be scheduled during one of the main days, where most people attend.

    Location: In the Vendor hall
    Equipment: Stage, Digital, internet connection, chairs
    Funded by: corporate interest such as wordpress, blogger, flickr, etc.
    Time: 9-12 and 2-5, speakers change every 30 minutes, with program times in the schedule
    Speakers talk for 20 mins. to allow for 10 minutes Q&A

    With 12 sessions, there will be 4 beginner, 4 intermediate and 4 advanced. Levels will be marked in the program. 3-4 sessions can be how to’s. The others should address projects that have been done and collaboratives that have been formed to address work of direct relevance to art/VR librarianship. Places will be filled 3-6 months before the conference for current topics.

  10. And here’s a though, what if we recorded some of this stuff to create tutorials? Of course, that would presume we have a

  11. I think when pitching this to the Denver folks, it’s important that we highlight the fact that it will be in the vendor hall. I know that the planning committee in Atlanta took some heat because the vendor hall was empty some of the time. A session like this would help to keep people flowing through the hall at all times.

  12. Hmmmmm, I’m wondering if this can’t also be a demonstration of an un-conference and then a question/answer session about it afterwards? It might garner some attention of the people who are more moderate or are unaware that it is a possibility.

    Also I’m not so sure about the “ramping up” idea. If people miss the beginning sessions at the conference, they may be less likely to attend the medium ones, etc. Also people may not want to spend all day doing the beginner stuff when there are other things going on simultaneously. Also there’s a large risk of giving people too much information simultaneously. Maybe one beginner, two intermediate and one advanced session every day, the advanced ones building off the ideas of the earlier ones? Blogs…podcasting…Second Life for example.

  13. I like your idea, Suzanne – I think that the unconference is actually an incorporation of the question/answer session component since the majority of the topics are audience-driven.

    I can see your point about the pitfalls of ‘ramping up’ topic complexity – hopefully we can make the topics’ level of complexity self-explanatory by their titles. Maybe we can have a very basic “jump start your Web2.0 skills” portion at the beginning of this endeavor – help people understand concepts like tag clouds, social software, mashups, etc. We could also encourage attendees to bring their laptops to the conference for the purpose of starting flickr accounts, etc . . .

    I also think that we should have big white-boards to draw on, as well as visuals to attract conference attendees to this learning environment!

  14. I really like the unconference idea — especially in regards to setting up a wiki (or an area of the entire conference’s wiki) to ferret out topics of most interest.

    In regards to balancing the topics’ conceptual/potential domain with pragmatic/how-to, I’d suggest having the presentation conceptual/potential in nature then directing participants to a pre-made tutorial that can be on YouTube (a free and/or we could set up volunteer(s) after the presentation to walk participants through. I know there are many IT departments that can help librarians, but there is more immediacy, I believe, with this solution (also, some people fear/loathe IT or their IT does not have the time).

    All presenters should really craft their presentation to the audience (i.e. art librarians). If it’s a new technology or a new way of thinking about a technology, presenters must bridge the interests of the audience to the technology’s potential.

    In regards to attracting conference attendees, maybe a little bit of pre-conference marketing would help. Sending out an e-mail in a professional format (like an e-newsletter/e-postcard) that directs potential participants to something like a 1-level webpage could boost attendance and awareness.

  15. I’m going to play devil’s advocate here and say that while I love the concept of an “unconference”, I think it might be a hard sell. We’re asking the conference planning committee to make a big leap here from traditional formats already, and asking them to at least support us in some rather costly endeavors (stages, internet access, etc. all cost a LOT at conferences). The unplanned and spontaneous nature of an unconference might make some people a bit nervous regarding whether a group of people who might be unfamiliar with this format would be ready to jump in at the conference and speak (with relatively little or no advanced preparation).

    I’m not saying it’s not a fantastic concept. I just suggest that we might need to pitch this with a plan B… something where we know the speakers in advance, but have them sign up in March or April so the topics are still really fresh. I’d hate to see our concept rejected when I feel like even if we accomplish 75% of what we’re talking about it would be a huge step forward for ARLIS/NA.

  16. I agree with Rebecca here, and think that just doing something like this in the exhibits hall will be the first step out of bounds. To truly do an unconference, you’ve go to have all sorts of interactive tools online for folks, that just won’t be there for us (Yet.) I’ve been to an unconference at NITLE, and it worked great for a smaller crowd, I’m not so sure about a big crowd yet. And not *that* crowd. BUT, that said, let’s look at small ways that we can head in that direction, once our programming is approved. Let’s get the “round robin” in, work on the corporate sponsorhip, and if enough money is raised, plan to tape and at least podcast it. Anyone can do that with a mac and we could place the podcasts on the AWS. One thing we also need the society to get away from is content that is behind and not behind the password.

  17. Sarah, great point about access!

    The organization inhibits its mission to “share ideas,” foster “professional communication,” and provide outreach to future art librarians with its current practice.

    Rebecca does have a good point, and Sarah’s point about baby-steps, I think, is appropriate. I guess I wonder how particular our proposals to the planning committe need to be? Reading the MW regional conference request, they ask for presenters’s names and institutions 5 mo. ahead. Sarah, I’m guessing you had to do the same w/ New Voices. So, with that in mind, do we currently lock ourselves into topics and presenters at least 4 mo. ahead?

    If that’s the case, we can still take a poll on what topics might be of interest. If we set up a program(s) along the lines of “jump start your Web 2.0 skills,” there is still a lot of flexibility to what actually happens within the session. Using a free online poll provider like Free Polls or even Fast Company Polls might be a way to actually populate the content of the session.

  18. I just wanted to revive this a bit and see how we want to get this proposal together. I think a lot of the momentum on this one is owed to Sarah, so she might want to take charge, but I’m sure there are many of us who would also be happy to work on it (especially if Sarah has her hands full with New Voices).

    My thinking is that this might really be the cooperative effort of all those who want to continue to be involved here, but we still need a couple people to handle to nitty-gritty, like writing up the proposal.

  19. Hey all: I’m working on it for sure. there are a lot of legalities (i.e. raising money) and logistics that I’m talking with folks about presently. I’m slammed with a deadline for work until June 1, will hammer all out and report back then. New Voices is a standing thing, so no work to propose, albeit if there are four speakers who would like to be considered, it would be great to hear from them.

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