I arrived in Toronto around 7 p.m. on Thursday after a smooth journey. I stayed in a hotel about 3 walking blocks from the conference venue, mainly so I could park the car on Thursday and walk everywhere. In daylight the neighborhood, part of Toronto’s Chinatown, reminded me of the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago: a wide variety of people in a busy, urban environment that feels very alive. At night it became somewhat worrisome: many homeless people sleeping in doorways and sidewalks, groups of people “hanging out” and looking a bit dangerous, and panhandlers approaching passers-by for change. I never felt directly threatened, but was very aware of the potential.
The conference was sponsored by York University, and held at the Centre for Social Innovation. The building was very warm, but the facilities were comfortable and pleasant. Everyone I came in contact with was fantastic.
How can I describe everything? Take about 70 people, self-selected to be interested in Libraries and Technology, everyone intent on learning and interacting with others of like mind. I have never seen a conference group as positively engaged in all that they were doing. I think this came about from a combination of the Unconference format, the selection of a well-defined yet general topic, and just the right amount of planning and structure (and not too much of either).
The organizers introduced themselves and described the day’s schedule process. The topics that had been submitted via the wiki were laid out on sheets of paper (see the photos in the second post for detail) on tables, along with blank sheets for newer ideas. I suggested what I had been brainstorming about during the previous day’s drive, and voted on the topics I most wanted to attend.
They ended up combining sessions in order to include all ideas, meaning that I co-presented with two other people (kind of strange, since I wanted a roundtable discussion in order to brainstorm). While they were tabulating the votes and arranging the schedule, we all attended the first session.
Zotero: Start watching for the next update of this incredible tool… it is about to become even more powerful. Then, once you have that gem, watch for the next big release. A great summary is located on their roadmap. I am left with an exceptionally strong positive feeling about this tool and the people developing it. Trevor Owens did a great job with the demo and presentation.
Drupal: This ended up being more of a detailed presentation of what it takes to implement a new web presence in an institution when it involves dozens of people in many departments. Politics, control over presentation of content, and seamless functionality were the main points discussed. On alternate days I think it might just be better for a small team (no more than four people) to install, configure and implement the system. The other days I suspect the “many hands” approach might be better. I had hoped for more tips on installing and configuring Drupal (having installed and configured it for the first time only a couple of weeks ago… watch for an announcement), but didn’t get that. Good session, nevertheless.
Lunch was buffet sandwiches and fruit (and a wonderful coffee bar that was open all day). The highlight was the tours offered to the building’s roof, which has a rooftop garden installed. I enjoyed taking pictures of the people in my tour group.
(more in part 2)