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Moving SWIFTly On…

For Computers in Libraries 2008 (common tag: CIL2008), where I’m the emcee for a two-session program, “From Woepac to Wowpac,” I’ve received several messages encouraging me to “start adding content to the SWIFT platform.” Like slides, blog posts, delicious tags… the stuff I generally post here.

I took a look at SWIFT when it was first announced, and decided to give it a pass. I already have a place to write about the conferences I attend, I’m unimpressed with the Otter Group, and my first experience with the product was that it waddled all over my Facebook profile and had a slew of broken functions. Why would I even bother with SWIFT?

I haven’t been alone in that question; the Twitterverse was immediately a-flutter, and Jessamyn as usual had a direct hit.

Since then, we have been advised that the Otter Group terms of service “have been revised … to reflect [our] concerns.” Well, thank goodness for that. But I still don’t need SWIFT and I still don’t care for its faint whiff of inauthenticity. (I can see the boardroom meeting now: “2.0: ka-ching, ka-ching! It’s gonna be big, big BIG!”)

My other concern is that there is really only so much I will do for any one conference. Please don’t take this wrong, but as much as I look forward to attending, CiL or any conference isn’t the center of my universe. I plan to show up, do a good job, blog a session or two, Twitter a little, upload slides if I have them, network with my buddies, exchange a few business cards, get on the plane home and move on with my professional life.

If there’s a wiki, a common keyword, a blog, and a way to continue the discussion before and after — bravo! (I just posted how to do this on a shoestring.) But none of this needs an enterprise 2.0 conference platform thingamajig. Am I to become a “user” on every competing conference site pushed my way this year? Who’s selling this stuff, and why? (O.k., I know why.)

What I missed at Internet Librarian 2007 (from the same company, Information Today) was wifi in the “hotel” side of the presentations. If Information Today wants to spend money on an improvement, ensuring MESH wifi for their conference sites would be my vote. Meanwhile, horseman, SWIFTly pass by.

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  1. I’m so glad you wrote this and I’m with you 100% – and if the focus does move to more reliable wireless I’ll buy you a drink for making these great points :)

    Friday, March 21, 2008 at 1:02 pm | Permalink
  2. If Information Today wants to spend money on an improvement, ensuring MESH wifi for their conference sites would be my vote. Meanwhile, horseman, SWIFTly pass by.

    Michael Sauers and I were saying the same thing the other day! Good wifi is much more important than a corporate “social web platform” that I really don’t need anyway.

    Friday, March 21, 2008 at 4:19 pm | Permalink
  3. Thanks, Joshua! I am sure they’d rather spend their money on something that will keep us coming back.

    Friday, March 21, 2008 at 5:43 pm | Permalink
  4. jessamyn wrote:

    Yep. I can’t see a single reason to even think about using this from a end-user perspective. This has “ALA Message Center” vibes all over it. Otter Group has not shown me, with the exception of a nice comment on my blog, that they get this whole arena at all.

    Friday, March 21, 2008 at 10:16 pm | Permalink
  5. Dick Kaser wrote:

    This is all good. And I’m enjoying getting to hear your feedback, kickback to this experiment.

    A few years back, I wrote a little paper called, “If Information Wants to be Free, who’s Going to Pay for it.”

    You don’t have to tell me how great free wireless is, since I’m constantly working from remote locations, often with my laptop balanced on a window ledge to steal someone’s open access link. But the point I was making in that Y2K paper still applies. For something to be free, someone has to pay.

    My understanding is that the hotels where we hold our events want to charge us a fee for each person in order to make wireless available.

    Now take $29 a day (or whatever egregious rate the hotel wants to charge) and multiply it times 2000 people, times 3 days and you can see why we might not be able to pay that, and still charge a registration fee that our attendees would find reasonable.

    I’m not convinced that if we paid that fee anywhere near 2000 people would take advantage of it. Nor am I convined it would actually work, since most hotels were not designed with this technology in mind.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m with you. I’d like to make that happen. And hopefully one day we will be able to give you an entirely wireless conference experience.

    In the meantime, we’d like to give you something that we can give you. A sandbox.

    You don’t have to play in the Swift sandbox if you don’t want to. In fact, your decision not to participate, tells us something important about our need to provide a Web 2.0 platform for our delegates (something that others have suggested to us. with as much fervor as you are going after wireless).

    The Swift experiment is giving ITI an opportunity to decide whether providing our attendees with Web 2.0 stuff is something they want to do, without our having to invest in inventing the platform.

    You’ve made a rather convincing argument that you don’t really need anything special. You can just use the tools you’ve already got. Great feedback! If nothing else, maybe this trial will provide me with the ability to cross off one expressed user expectation from the development list.

    But our decision not to do 2.0 stuff for our conference goers will not result in a decision to provide free wireless. There is no comparison in the economic models.

    Dick Kaser
    ITI VP, Content

    Saturday, March 22, 2008 at 6:49 pm | Permalink
  6. I’m reading this on a holiday so I’m going to stick with the events of the day and respond to this by tomorrow evening. But the gist of this message is to explain to me and my readers that stuff costs money. As messages go, it’s not that far from the sergeant in my Air Force days who used to shout “righty tighty, lefty loosey!” as he walked past me while I was working on an aircraft engine. It’s always telling what people think they need to explain.

    Sunday, March 23, 2008 at 9:56 am | Permalink
  7. Also, a friend pointed me to David Lee King’s take on this SWIFT stuff. Good analysis, DLK.

    Sunday, March 23, 2008 at 10:59 am | Permalink
  8. Liz Lawley wrote:

    As someone who has provided wifi for a small conference, I know that the major hotels I’ve dealt with have not charged per attendee (and if they did, conferences like Emerging Tech would be in big trouble too). They generally charge a flat rate for a given amount of their available bandwidth.

    There are far too many conferences offering wifi to all participants for me to be convinced that this is an economic deal-breaker for ITI.

    Wednesday, March 26, 2008 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

7 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Moving SWIFTly On… | Library Stuff on Friday, March 21, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    [...] K.G. Schneider – “If Information Today wants to spend money on an improvement, ensuring MESH wifi for their conference sites would be my vote.” Posted in ITI | Trackback | | Top Of Page [...]

  2. » Blog Archive » Moving SWIFTly On… on Saturday, March 22, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    [...] platform.” Like slides, blog posts, delicious tags… the stuff I generally post here. (Read on Source) This entry was posted on Friday, March 21st, 2008 at 1:00 pm and is filed under 4492. You [...]

  3. Stuff Costs Money on Tuesday, March 25, 2008 at 6:32 am

    [...] the holiday weekend, Dick Kaser, ITI’s VP for Content, posted a comment to my post about SWIFT, the not-so-swift “2.0 platform” ITI had invested in for its [...]

  4. Try a little tenderness on Wednesday, April 2, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    [...] of us presenting at CiL have expressed dismay, if not disbelief, that CiL would sink money into some funky enterprise-2.0-platform we didn’t need — [...]

  5. Llyfrgellydd » My take on SWIFT on Wednesday, April 2, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    [...] Today, I received a second e-mail from Kathleen Gilroy encouraging me to active my SWIFT account for Computers in Libraries 2008. I also received an e-mail from Jane Dysart; this e-mail included a FAQ about SWIFT, presumably meant to address concerns that others have expressed. (For reference, see blog posts by David Lee King, Jessamyn West, Michelle Boule, and Karen Schneider.) [...]

  6. [...] the SWIFT conference platform, which I haven’t discussed publicly on this blog (though many others have on theirs — and many of them offer quite astute observations). I do think it is a deeply [...]

  7. Crowdvine versus SWIFT on Sunday, April 13, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    [...] brings me back to my original suggestion. Given limited resources, I suggest ITI focus on providing incredibly good wifi and encouraging us [...]

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