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Laptopping at IL

I sit here in my corporate bathrobe catching up after the great California Library Association conference in San Jose last week. Nice location, great tech support, super high attendance, good food… hey, Toto, I know we’re not in Ontario any more (site of last year’s conference, and a dump that was). Kudos to everyone involved in putting on what in my childhood someone called a Really Big Shew.

I did two mini-presentations and one big presentation about MPOW, and sat in on a program about next year’s mahhhhvelous summer reading program, Dragons, Dreams, and Daring Deeds, honchoed in this state by the ever-stoked Stephanie Stokes. (You’re asking what I was doing there? MPOW creates theme collections for this increasingly popular summer reading program collective.)

And frankly, though I believe in Hot Tech and Ubiquitous Computing and all that, the best part of the CLA presentations was that the audience members were listening to what I had to say. Which is where I have a bone to pick with my biblish buddies Michael Stephens and Steven Cohen, who are at Internet Librarian wondering where the bloggers are, because they are one of a handful of people blogging during the presentations.

Yeah, I know it’s called multitasking, and I know the NextGens think it’s hot. But I think it too often can be an excuse for solipsism. Just when you should be all eyes and ears for someone else, what are you doing? Blogging!

As an adjunct library science instructor, far too often I have had to walk around the room and say Shut Down That PC And Listen. I have seen the pouts, the lower lips pushed out, the dagger eyes. I have said Shut It Down Anyway. If nothing else, you are paying good money for me to bore you.

As a presenter, I can’t order anyone to shut their laptops, but I can think it. Take notes? Write a pre-bloggy entry? Make a brief blogtation, “psyched, great show?” O.k., fine, even good. But launch into full-length blog entries during a talk, IM back and forth, practically publish a newspaper filled with YOUR thoughts and YOUR ideas, and then shake fingers at others for not doing the same? People, people!

Where are the laptops, Michael asks? Where they should be, tucked into briefcases while your rapt audience hangs on your words. Well, that’s my fantasy, anyway. I put everything I can into making it worth your while to see my Really Big Shew; I’d be honored if you returned the favor.

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