In absentia

Although not able to attend, I was able to take a cheeky peek over the walls into the A&SL Annual Conference today, all thanks to Twitter.

I wanted to write a very short blog post about my experience of following a conference purely via social media. My apologies in advance if it’s a little disjointed but I wanted to get it down as quickly as possible so I wouldn’t be influenced by reading any other blogs or reports about the days. The reason for this is so that I can give a true reflection of my impressions, which might help future conference tweeters, myself included, to know how tweets are helpful to the ‘at home’ audience. Of course lots of people are not necessarily tweeting for the benefit of anyone else, I know myself that it is sometimes just a handy way to remember key points later.

My second disclaimer is that I was just dipping in and out of the tweets a lot of the time – my whole reason for not attending was because I had to work, so obviously I couldn’t just watch the twitter stream all day! So apologies if I say something was unclear and you brilliant tweeters had actually explained something I missed!

Firstly, it was lovely to see familiar and new avatars using the #asl2014 hashtag. Knowing a little bit about the familiar avatars made it easy to see where they were coming from with their tweets, and why they decided to tweet a particular point. If a tweet said “like us”, or “I have seen this” – it was great to already know the context they were referring to. By following all the tweets using #asl2014, and not just the users I follow, I was able to get a sense of when a speaker had said something particularly powerful, as the stream would fill with snippets of the same quote or sentiment.
I was really interested to see a tweet from @martinoconnor3 saying he was impressed that Ben Showers spoke of students as users, not academics. Although I would have included academics in the user group, I would primarily think about the large student body as the users to be catered to. This is probably because I have so recently exited the system myself, but it is a strange thing to need to clarify, and food for thought maybe.
Image of tweet from Martin O'Connor
Ben Showers’ paper must have been very rock and roll – even when not following the tweets I received a notification telling me 43 people had started following him – and there was later a reference to Bruce Springsteen from one tweeter!?
I probably wouldn’t have heard about Trinity College Dublin’s eDeposit Ireland if it weren’t for following the day’s tweets. There are so many innovations happening across library land and it was great to get a glimpse into this very significant project. I feel at this early stage in my career that maybe I don’t need to know too many of the finer details, but that by  gaining this general awareness of what’s out there, I can anticipate the possibilities for the future.
It was sometimes difficult to know what the tweets were referring to when I just looked at my phone quickly – three tweets at least said ‘87% would miss site’ – but I didn’t know what site was being discussed or the context.
Despite not being at the event I still managed to get quoted in an A&SL Storify of the afternoon -oops! All credit to @librarianintown for capturing that great quote! I included the #yam tag on my re-tweet so that it would also post to my work Yammer feed, a piece of technological magic that still mystifies me!
The last tweets of the day seemed to touch on an area that I am currently very focused on in my role as Knowledge Management Officer at Trócaire. There was a flurry of tweets about social media, how it is a natural progression for librarians to work on promoting social platforms, and the role they play in Knowledge Management in. As I read these tweets and finished up work, and the tweeties thought about going for a pint, I couldn’t establish who was giving this great talk. I have since been able to pick up that it was Florence Curley. Apart from this being an interesting topic, it was also good to know that it was being covered at the A&SL conference. Sometimes I find it hard to know where the more business side of librarianship and the KM aspects fit within the Library Association’s sections.
So apart from not being there in person to network and enjoy that lovely looking chocolate cake, I really feel like I gained a lot from my ‘in absentia’ conference experience, for absolutely no pain.
Some of my favourite tweets from today:
Posted in Conference, Information Profession

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