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Try a little tenderness

Next Monday, off to Computers in Libraries I go, hey-ho. It’s a turn-and-burn; I leave that Friday for IA Summit, so I’m arriving at CiL Monday afternoon and departing 24 hours later, after honchoing the way-cool session, Woepac to Wowpac.

Some 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, or even have time for — particularly considering the source. But let me make this very clear: that’s a peripheral issue relative to the larger worth of this conference.

Many ITI conferences manage to pull together interesting people and topics in a tight, action-packed venue. I have seen many great programs at ITI conferences — most recently, I’m remembering Darlene Fichter talking about mashups, and Liz Lawley, for her keynote, dressed as her World of Warcraft avatar.

But I also remember the many breakfasts, lunches, dinners, coffees, cocktails, and even hallway hugs I’ve had with people I care about. My first CiL? I don’t recall the programs, though I know they were good. I remember running into Steve Kerchoff outside the hotel and grabbing lunch with him, and if the meals in my life were a pile of chits to trade away for a little more time, that one would be a keeper I’d squeeze tight in my writing hand.

You really don’t get enough time with the people in your life. It is really all so fleeting. And if the other stuff around those moments is good, all the better. When I asked a colleague at MPOW what he liked about Internet Librarian (traditionally held in Monterey), he brought up not just the programs, but the barking of sea lions on the night air. I remember having a damn fine time in Monterey last fall (except for the morning when I went to move my rental car in between sessions, and slammed it into a pole — hardly ITI’s fault!), and it was difficult to say goodbye to the Left Coast.

I wish ITI had made a couple of decisions differently. For that matter, I can trace my fingers across my life’s inventory and come to the same conclusion — and some of my decisions have hurt others, sometimes significantly, whereas none of us have had so much as a fast pulse due to limited wifi or the essential brokenness of some company’s “platform.”

ITI hasn’t kept us in Iraq for five years, or subsidized inhumane factory farming, or closed down libraries. They’ve just kept on with these conferences — right now, in an economy that is bucking and heaving — and, like so many of us, tried to adapt to the times.

Hope to see you in D.C. — if not this year, perhaps another.

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7 Comments

  1. Steve Lawson wrote:

    “ITI hasn’t kept us in Iraq for five years, or subsidized inhumane factory farming, or closed down libraries.”

    Well, that’s quite a curve you are grading on! But I think I agree with your central point. So SWIFT is a bust. Big deal. I’m not planning on letting that color my experience of CIL.

    Wednesday, April 2, 2008 at 9:34 pm | Permalink
  2. As someone said about another experience, “No babies died…” That said, I was very amused by the FAQ. Did you see the last page? It was an odd “Executive Summary” of Latinate page-filler.

    Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 6:35 am | Permalink
  3. I gave the last page of the FAQ to some government agents. They tell me they have top men working on translating it. Top. Men.

    Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 9:23 am | Permalink
  4. On a slightly more serious note, I agree that the whole SWIFT thing isn’t such a big deal in the long run. And it’s not coloring my view of ITI or CiL. Unfortunately, the way some ITI people have responded to criticism of SWIFT is coloring my view, and while I’m really looking forward to seeing all my cool Libraryland peeps in DC, I’m not as enthusiastic about the actual conference as I was before.

    Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 9:26 am | Permalink
  5. Liz Lawley wrote:

    Joshua, isn’t painting an entire organization based on the informally presented views of one employee exactly what bloggers *don’t* want to have happen? The reality of having “authentic” voices is that they don’t always say what we want to hear. And if the result of a misstep is that significant, that’s a very very strong incentive for organizations not to attempt to become more conversational in their approaches.

    Sunday, April 6, 2008 at 5:54 pm | Permalink
  6. Liz, exactly. I don’t see hordes of “ITI people” making excuses for SWIFT. I tried to stick pretty closely to the specifics without tarring the conference, and I’ve been to bad conferences and know what they’re like.

    Monday, April 7, 2008 at 8:58 am | Permalink
  7. Liz, Karen, you’re both right, and ITI certainly isn’t responsible for my neurotic responses.

    Monday, April 7, 2008 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

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