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Thinking Ahead to Creative Nonfiction 2009

I scribbled ideas for next year’s Creative Nonfiction conference on an evaluation form before heading to L&M for one last meal that had me squealing over the sustainably-farmed locally-made chorizo, but assuming the forensic scientists at CNF gave up trying to analyze my bad handwriting, I thought I’d also share my ideas here.

Again, CNF 2008 was a great experience… one in fact so good I’d like to see it better promoted and attended, with more opportunities for attendees to network before, during, and after the event. So let me present…

Nine Ideas for CNF 2009 She Keyboarded During Lunch:

1. As soon as conference registration opens, offer a conference wiki, like this one from ALA 2007 or this one from the last Internet Librarian. Give access to registrants and encourage them to share their own information. The wiki is also a great place to note tiny but crucial details such as alternate parking areas for the main conference hotel, campus maps, and restaurant phone numbers and hours.

2. As for topics, at least one program focused on online publications would be interesting.

3. Establish a mail reflector list and put everyone on it so you can send information to everyone.

4. Establish a mail discussion list and make it available (not required) for conference alums.

5. Collect cell phone numbers on your form and use them for texting updates and corrections, such as (*cough*) last-minute room changes.

6. Encourage live blogging (which means: provide free wifi access, let registrants know it will be available, and ask them to list their blogs and to sign up to cover specific sessions).

7. Establish a common keyword such as CNF2009 to use on social networking sites (blogs,, etc.), and make sure the keyword is prominently noted on the main page of the wiki.

8. Create a Flickr Pro account (c’mon, it’s only $25 a year!) and encourage people to contribute. (Start by creating a group that includes pictures from the previous year’s conference.)

9. Use a blog to distribute information before the conference (it will mostly overlap with #3, so there’s a content re-use opportunity, but it will be publicly available and could offer more engagement).

10, 11, 12, 13, 14…? A delicious set? A Twitter account? (I almost dropped my Treo when one of the publishers mentioned Twitter; I thought I was the only one at CNF on that grid. I even Twittered from CNF… is that a first?)

Note that all of these ideas require some effort to get going, but most rely on free or very low-cost tools and user-contributed content. Most of these suggestions have a very high ratio of gain compared to effort and cost.

Still thinking fondly of the people, the panels, the publishers — and the chorizo…

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