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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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