VPL Post-Mortem and Gratuitous Gratitude

Well, after all my anxiety the talk at the Vancouver Public Library went pretty well. One of the biggest audiences I’ve spoken to, and definitely one of the most diverse. We had people like Richard Eriksson in the front row, and we had a fair contingent of people who were only barely conversant with the web (sample question: “what’s the difference between a chat room and a discussion board?”). First talk I can recall where there was security barring people at the door because they were disruptive presences — it was a downtown kind of crowd.

Since my last shout-out, we had a few more contributors I’d like to thank. Stephen Downes pointed to this Pew Internet study (pdf) that made the pertinent argument that the web provides “people with access to multiple communities worldwide from which they can draw help and support.” No kidding. Gardner, Joan, David and D’Arcy all made wonderful last-minute contributions. I was literally adding their stuff in at the podium moments before beginning.

The biggest challenge was assembling so much great material in some kind of coherent framework on the presentation wiki. I hope none of the contributors feel slighted with how I arranged things — I had to leave a lot of excellent stuff out. But as a demonstration of the concept of distributed conversation I think the cry for help worked as well as I could have hoped. When I revealed half-way through the talk where I was getting most of my material, there seemed to be an “a-ha moment” for at least some in the audience. Lindsay Kante describes the tactic as “shameless, yes, but effective”, and I couldn’t hope for a better assessment than that.

Once again, I thank everyone who offered their precious time to share their thoughts and their work for this event.

I was on the bill with Mark Schneider, who gave a passionate talk with some truly fine insights on the current state of journalism and how the pitfalls might be addressed. He went over very well. I’ve had a couple of requests for his slides, which can be downloaded here (ppt 1.4 MB). Richard also shot a bit of video of Mark’s talk and posted it to YouTube.

About Brian

I am a Strategist and Discoordinator with UBC's Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. My main blogging space is Abject Learning, and I sporadically update a short bio with publications and presentations over there as well...
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