On Not Attending A Workshop


Photo of Scott Brander  of CiA & St Andrews introducing the workshop, via @jamestoon (who *did* attend the workshop).

On Friday, I didn’t attend the CERIF In Action workshop on transferring research data to RCUK and other organisations. I wanted to attend, but work, time, funds etc. etc. conspired against me. I really did want to know what was happening in this area, though, so I tried to follow the day via Twitter. I’ve done this before and it has been OK,  but it was a busy day on Friday, full of small distractions like phone calls, deadlines and the usual things that keep me from the serious business of reading and tweeting. I caught enough to grab my interest, but not enough to really get a flavour of what was going on.

So I mused over tea and cakes (Friday afternoon treat, it’s not the highlife here every afternoon) about how I might be able to be able to time travel and attend the workshop on another day. And I thought about Storify. What if I took the Twitter timeline for the event, added it to Storify, then embellished it with links and further info? Would that be useful?

So I tried – here is it.

It’s a work in progress as there are still blog posts to be added once they are published. And I may continue to add links and information after that, as I read around the subject.

It wasn’t as good as being there and having tea and cake with repo friends. But I have information, some notes, some chat and links to follow.  Not a bad deal for time travelling, and a sketchier but still useful enough version of the notes I would’ve taken away from the day.

Thanks to all the people who tweeted from the workshop under the #cerifinaction hashtag


Less Talk, More Action – Non-Digital Hack Day

Photo of Lego library counter by tzhaya via Flickr, used with thanks, under CC license.

Today I cam across an idea via Twitter that got me really excited. I’ve attended a few hack days and conferences in the recently with a mix of developers and library types. I have had some great conversations, and also, with developers, been part of helping them to build tools that non-technical information professionals would find useful. I’ve always been secretly envious of developers, though.

Developers make stuff. So they can go to a day event and come away, maybe, with a finished product. Or the rough outline of something that didn’t exist before that day. It’s not that I don’t come away from events with great ideas, or that I don’t value and enjoy discussions with colleagues at conferences and un-conferences. But sometimes I’d like to come away with something a bit more tangible, like the developers do.

Well, maybe I can…

During a teabreak, I noticed a tweet from @LibraryCamp about the latest additions to the Library Camp session proposals on their wiki, so I hopped over to check them out. One from Andrew Walsh (@andywalsh999) really got me excited! Andrew was suggesting people getting together to discuss Non-Digital Hack Day. What? How? When and Where?

Here’s how Andrew explained it –

“… in the run up to it people pick what areas they’d like to talk about, then self-organise into groups on the day, spend an hour discussing a “challenge” on that topic they’d like to discuss, then during the rest of the day they have to produce a practical “thing” to take away. This might be a plan and outline promotional materials for promoting ebooks, a rough & ready game (see my suggestion above) to play in their libraries, or who knows what else… IT people do Hack Days where they may create a piece of software – this would be a non-digital version!”

I really love this idea! It takes the best bits of an un-conference for me – the ideas, the discussions, the dynamic of being in a group – and gives them all a practical tweak. So I’ll be heading off to this session at Library Camp for sure. I’d really like to take  part in a Non-Digital Hack Day at a later date. Just think, all that energy, all those ideas, all the good group stuff, focussed into an end result. Library and information professionals as makers – genius!

Library Camp will be taking place on 13th October 2012 in Birmingham, UK, with full details on the Library Camp Wiki. If you want to follow on Twitter, the pre-discussions and tweets on the day will be using the hash tag #LibCampUK12

Repo Knitters & Conference Crafting

Photo by Freddycat1 used, with thanks, under CC.

The Open Repositories conference is one of the main conferences of the year for me. It’s also very busy and very crowded. It can get a little stressful trying to cram in seeing everyone I want to see, checking out everything I want to hear about and telling anyone who shows the slightest interest about the  projects I have been working on.

Sarah knitting as I take a break between rounds to eat soup.

A couple of weeks before, I asked on Twitter if there were any knitters attending the conference. I got a great response, and we finally decided on a Wednesday lunchtime meetup at the Kilimanjaro Coffee Shop. In the end, four of us made it, with a couple of rows of knitting being done! We chatted, swapped tips, admired yarn and had a proper break – something that is rare at a full-on conference.(Thanks to Jane for permission oto use the photo.) As well as the people who actually came along, tweeting about knitting at the conference got me into a lot of interesting conversations.  Not just with knitters but with all kinds of crafters who have a day job in the repository world. I chatted in breaks about embroidery, spinning, dressmaking, plushies… it was fantastic  to see this other side of the people I work with 🙂

Which set me thinking…

I find that I tend to suffer a kind of mental shutdown at conferences. There’s too much to take in at once. Because of the get-it-before-it-goes nature of a conference, I stress that the people, the ideas, the buzz will all vanish if I don’t grab it all quickly, now,now, NOW! And then my brain overloads (and I might tweet too much) until even coffee doesn’t help anymore. An hour out for a  proper break on Wednesday lunchtime, knitting and chatting about other things, felt as good as a snooze! I was refreshed, inspired and ready to talk repos far into the night. (Yes, I was the person still enthusiastically talking about the DataFlow project at 10.45pm!)

So, would it help others? Could we have a crafting/making space set aside at conferences? A kind of chill-out zone where making stuff is allowed, where you could go to switch off your aching brain and engage your inner-crafter for half an hour or more? Would people use it? Could we encourage new crafters? Could we encourage creativity in one new area and have this inspire the whole conference? I’d like to try – wondering if anyone would join in? This kind of thing would find a natural home at an un-conference, and that would be cool. But I’d love to try it out at a big, more formal conference because I suspect that’s where we might need it most!

Thanks to the repo Twitter knitters at OR2012 –  Jane Smith Sarah Molloy & Helen Kenna for the knitting and the company 🙂 For anyone who is interested in what I knit, check out my Ravelry profile – or ask to see at the next conference we both attend 😉