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Social Software Showcase at ALA Annual

I’m pasting in Karen Coombs’ announcement of a Social Software Showcase at ALA Annual (already linked here and there on the Web), which is the epitome of all that is epitomizable, and in which (as I have not yet resolved that unable-to-be-in-two-places-at-once issue) I will participate in via a YouTube video which I have yet to make because as Steve Lawson notes, I don’t know what my topic is yet.

Well, I have two topics but it all depends on whether one of the proposed participants can make it, in which case he has my first topic. Kapeesh? Then, since it was all a Surprise, planned by others, I was unaware of the social software angle, and I had vague plans to talk about LOCKSS, and find myself somewhat stumped on the issue of digital preservation and social software… though actually, it’s quite an interesting issue, if you think of it. Where do chats go to die? (Do they dry up like a raisin in the sun?)
I’m ashamed to say that I’m more worried about the wardrobe issues for my video; shall I be simple-yet-elegant, shall I wear one of my Halloween costumes… or what about a feathered cap?  What about backdrops — a fake city center, a plain wall, or (so you all know I’m very smart) my bookshelves? (Every time I do a bookcase backdrop for a photo I find myself wishing I were a foot taller, so my head could be poised against the really erudite stuff, and not a section that is half-travel, half-miscellany.)

Anyway, kudos to Karen, Michelle, Jason, and everyone else involved in the Showcase. Karen C.’s explanation follows.

This is the surprise that I’ve [as in Karen Coombs] been talking to people about for months now. A full description of the Showcase is available on LITABlog and there will be a lot more to come on the official Showcase wiki.

The Social Software Showcase, in some ways, has been a long time in the making. The PTBs at BIGWIG (myself, Michelle, and Jason) haven’t necessarily been happy with the conference format or planning process at ALA for some time (both as participants and organizers). The policies and procedures for the conference planning process don’t work well for creating innovative and responsive programming on technology. They also disenfranchise ALA members who can’t attend the conference in person or whose conference schedules are jam packed due to face-to-face meetings where the business of ALA is conducted or giving conference presentations.

Projects like HigherEdBlogCon and 5 Weeks to a Social Library have shown that virtual conferences can work and for some people can be a more rewarding experience than traditional conferences. So why not show the world of ALA that a virtual conference can be done and bring different people, ideas and conversations to the table? Beyond that the Showcase is a way for us to reach out to librarians (and maybe even library users) and get them involved in conversations about social software without making a massive personal financial investment.

The Showcase is above all an experiment and a demonstration of social software in action. It was planned and executed using chat, Google Docs, wikis, Twitter, and probably some other tech I’m forgetting to mention. That in itself is worth taking notice of. So is our list of presenters which include some creative, thought-provoking, and unique voices in the library world. The presenters, other organizers and myself are looking forward to your participation in this program.


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