I’ve noticed a curious trend here at Internet Librarian. Those sessions led by LSW members are consistently of high quality. They were informative, humorous, to the point, and organized. Those sessions led by non-LSW members are a very mixed bag. A couple were brilliant (I’m thinking of danah boyd, especially). A few were definitely not.
One explanation could be that we’ve managed to amass a group of cool librarians that are also good presenters. And while I think this is definitely true, I don’t think it’s the whole story. For one thing, if this were the whole story, I’d expect to see improvement in those of us who’ve spoken a lot, and I’d expect to see newer presenters from the group playing a bit of catch-up. I’m not really seeing that, though. It seems like the entire group, veteran and newbie speakers alike, churned out really high-quality work.
My theory is that the fact that we keep up with each other online, and the fact that we all know and respect each other, enticed everyone to step up and make sure that what they presented would be top notch. Put simply, everyone was proving to everyone else that they were cool enough to belong in the group. Even those who had never spoken at a national conference before had a reputation to maintain in front of a crowd of seriously talented, smart, and funny peers.
There’s a down-side to this network effect, too. We generally knew a lot of the facts presented already, since we’d already presented them to our peers online. Still, I heard several things expressed in person in ways that I hadn’t heard online. And the sheer mass of presentations and discussions juxtaposed against each other highlighted some trends that I would probably have missed otherwise.
The conference is over now, and we’re all scattering back to our respective homes. The conversation about librarianship will continue, though, as we keep up with each other online. I wonder what this means for the quality of next year’s conference. Only good things, I imagine.
Next up: actual information from sessions. I promise. I’m working on it.