At the Online World 2000 Conference, held September 18-20 at San Diego's Town & Country Resort, there was a persistent buzz among attendees. Online, Inc. had let it be known at the conference opening that exciting announcements would be made later in the day concerning the future of Online World. Everyone had their own ideas: Online World was being revamped.... Online World was to be discontinued.... Online, Inc. was being purchased by another company (Thomson, anyone?).... Online, Inc. was scaling back on the conference portion of its business, or maybe it was doing away with the publications and was going to concentrate on only the conferences.
The permutations were endless. Yet, it appeared that the actual announcement of two new conferences was unexpected by most in attendance. On September 18, the announcement was made by Nancy Garman, vice president of the company's EContent Group, that Online World was to be scrapped and two new conferences were to replace it in 2001: eContent 2001--The Content Expo and Web Search University. Both conferences will be organized by Online, Inc.'s EContent Group.
According to Garman, Online World had evolved in such a way that it had too broad a focus for today's information professionals in attempting to cover both practical searching and digital content. The company had decided to end the Online World conference format and split it into two conferences, each with a very distinct focus, beginning next year. The redesign of its conferences paralleled the reorganization of Online, Inc.'s magazines, ONLINE and EContent (formerly DATABASE).
eContent 2001 will be geared toward those who provide, produce, create, distribute, aggregate, and/or manage digital content. It will be easily differentiated from Online, Inc.'s Buying & Selling eContent Conference that's held in Scottsdale, Arizona. That conference is targeted toward top-level executives who deal with strategy issues and the buying and selling of e-content. eContent 2001 is planned as a large conference/trade show, held in a convention center. There will be an extensive exhibit hall and different tracks for the conference sessions. Plans are currently underway to develop eContent 2001, which will be held November 12-13, 2001 in the Santa Clara (California) Convention Center.
Web Search University will have an entirely different format, and will be targeted specifically toward the professional searcher. Garman foresees the conference encompassing techniques useful for searching the full range of sources on the Internet, including both the open (free) Web and those sources available for a fee or by subscription only. As most of the traditional online services have migrated to the Web, these will be covered as well.
Online, Inc. expects that between 300 and 500 people will attend Web Search University, which will debut September 9-11, 2001 at the Hyatt Regency in Reston, Virginia. It will open on Sunday evening with the keynote speaker and a reception. The conference sessions will offer concentrated search experiences, but will be longer and more in-depth than Online World conference programming--similar to what one might expect from a pre-conference seminar. However, due to the number of attendees, this won't be a hands-on experience. A conference binder will be issued to all registrants that will include materials from all of the sessions.
There will be room for about 30 tabletop exhibits, but there are no plans for a full-scale exhibit hall with booths, as at Online World. …