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As Susan mentioned in her post, the new Library van made it possible for five of us to attend the 2010 LITA Forum. Additionally, I was able to take advantage of the funds from the Summer Technology Exploration Grant I received to cover 25% of my costs to attend.

The topic of the Opening General Session was “How Wikipedia Really Works, and What This Means for the Nature of “Truth”” presented by Amy Bruckman. She led with a story about learning of her great uncle’s death by way of a watch she had set up on his Wikipedia entry. Interestingly, the notice of his death was accurate, but was taken off Wikipedia because the information was not cited. It was not until his death could be documented by the social security death index that the information was allowed in the wikipedia article.

She also discussed the nature of our subjective perceptions and how when they have a high degree of correlation it determines what is true, thus there are social processes that help us determine what is true. For example numerous editors on a Wikipedia entry can help users feel more confident of the content. Wikipedia articles are supposed to be neutral and factual, and a tremendous admin structure to Wikipedia helps ensure this. It is not the “free for all” it is perceived to be. Bruckman’s presentation was a good opportunity to learn about Wikipedia’s current state of affairs.

Next I attended “The Other IT Crowd: Managing and Developing Accidental Geeks in the Library” led by Beatrice Pulliam. She discussed how applications like the MS Outlook Task Function, Jing, LibGuides, and other technologies get people out of their silos and get them working together and implementing new, empowering technologies with very little effort or cost. She suggested the book “Don’t Make Me Think” and the study guides from Lynda.com.

I also attended an interesting session by Librarians from the University of Alabama called “Rethinking the Library Game: Creatian Alternate Reality with Social Media” Jason J Battles, Valerie Glenn, and Lindsey Shedd discussed Project Valious, an ARG-Alternate reality game (interactive narrative game, think interactive “Lost”) They discussed the challenges of creating and running the game and the lessons learned. They discussed how it was successful, but a challenge to replicate.

Next I attended “Making Your IT Skills Virtual: Tools for learning how to implement and administer cloud based systems” by our very own Erik Mitchell, JP Bessou, and Kevin Gilbertson. They did an excellent job describing ZSR’s migration to the cloud and the major themes of running services in the cloud, IT Sevices Management for librarians, what we learned and what’s next.

On Saturday morning, the General Session was amazing! Roy Tenant of OCLC Research discussed “Using the Cloud to Please the Crowd” He discussed the power of the cloud, the hype of the cloud, and even managed to use the phrase “paradigm shift” without getting jeered by the audience! He reviewed the history of computing that has lead to cloud computing or commodity servers set up in parallel a la Google. Tennant described how cloud computing leads us to on demand service, like electricity, with infinite immediately available computing power and no need to plan for scaling! Infrastructure becomes someone else’s headache and ther is no mad scramble to deal with things like usage spikes. Computing power has become a commodity and tools on the cloud are cheap and getting cheaper. Now there is no barrier to innovation on the web. He also discussed ubiquitous information and how files need to exist in the cloud to be available everywhere anytime. The audience asked very aggressive questions after Tennant’s program. There was some animosity toward the cloud. Tennant explained the cloud was not apanacea but a tool which of which we should take advantage!

I also attended my first Pecha Kucha, which wason Technology in the Library. Christine Ayer, Rob Cullin, and Kimberly Bolan-Cullin presented on topics ranging from risk management to tools for mobile sites and materials vending machines for patrons.

Now I’m off to more presentations! I’ll wrap up the conference in my next post!