SLA at the Tipping Point

By Abram, Stephen | Information Outlook, July 2008 | Go to article overview
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SLA at the Tipping Point

Abram, Stephen, Information Outlook

I am writing this column while on the plane home from our conference in Seattle. And what a conference it was! I was hopeful that I would see signs of change throughout the conference--in sessions, in divisions, indeed in members. Was SLA changing and adapting to the environment around us? Were we preparing for the new economy? Was our SLA value proposition increasing and aligning with member needs? Were our member colleagues ready to adapt to the biggest changes happening in information and library land--possibly ever?


I am happy to report that I saw good things. I even found a few things to change in myself! (Amazingly, I actually got to attend a few sessions!) Just a few things that delighted me:

* Charlie Rose interviewing Vint Cerf and Vint giving his views on the work he's doing for the development of the protocols for the interplanetary Internet. How cool is that? I'll bet not many of us had even thought of the information applications he was studying.

* Would you have expected an SLA member produced Machinima at the Opening Session? The SLA Second Life members' avatars looked beyond cool and it was a talkie! And seeing the SLA Second Life site develop was just too exciting. Some folks were suggesting a 2009 celebration event for our SLA Centennial in Second Life, or creatively suggesting that everyone get a free membership in the Second Life Chapter.

* I got to meet Seth Godin before everyone else got to hear him. I was thrilled that he raised the tenor of the conversation about our identity in the very noisy information space.

* The debut of 'The SLA 23 Things Song" from Tim DeWolf and Richard Geiger was a huge hit. I was thrilled that it drew just the right amount of attention to the 23 Things / Learning 2.0 project at SLA. Have you been to it on the Web site and signed up?

* One of the sessions I attended was by one of my heroes, David Snowden. He is right on the edge of cognition research and the role of stories and the things we value as librarians. I would never have expected him to show leading-edge results from story collection in Iran and the use thereof to understand and predict anti-western sentiment and activity.

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