Magazine article Information Today

Information Online 2003. (Report from the Field)

Magazine article Information Today

Information Online 2003. (Report from the Field)

Article excerpt

This conference, held Jan. 21-23, saw my fourth consecutive visit to the "Land Down Under." Of the many such events I've attended down the years, this continues to be my favorite. Not only was the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre South at Darling Harbour stunning, but there was a genuine buzz of interest pervading the exhibit floor.

My previous three events had involved the occasionally arduous task of manning a booth, but this trip gave me the opportunity to spend some serious time circling the floor. Most of the usual suspects were present, such as BIOSIS, CISTI, CSA, Dialog (in fact, there was a big Thomson contingent), EBSCO, Elsevier Science, Factiva, ISI, LexisNexis Butterworth, Ovid, ProQuest, Wiley Interscience, and Information Today, Inc.

Information Online is promoted as the "Premier Conference and Exhibition for the Online Information Industry in the Asia Pacific Region" and is commonly touted as the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. I haven't seen any evidence to refute either claim. In an interview with Elizabeth Swan, the chief organizer of the conference and representative from the convening Australian Library and Information Association's Information Specialists Group, I discovered some details about the conference and its history.

Information Online Background

I learned that the conference began in 1986, initially as an annual event. It switched to a biannual schedule in 1989. The conference started in a local Hilton Hotel before outgrowing it and moving to a more specialized venue, somewhat mirroring the London Online Information conference and its original Novotel site.

Unlike the majority of its counterparts in the Northern Hemisphere, this event has seen steady growth over recent years against most of the usual metrics. Again this year, general attendance was up, both in the exhibit hall and in the conference sessions. Approximate final figures list 1,200 delegates plus another 1,000 visiting the exhibit hall and its 79 exhibiting companies. A big plus to the venue, aside from the stunning skyline, is that it is able to house all aspects of the event in very close proximity. This was particularly well-received by the exhibitors as it reduces the delegate "walkabout effect" between sessions, at coffee breaks, and during any allocated exhibit time.

While the majority of the attendees were from Australia and New Zealand, there was also some considerable representation from other Pacific Rim countries as well as a sizable contingent from both the U.S. and U.K. My question to those who are reading this in the Northern Hemisphere and considering making such a long journey for the 2005 event (which apparently already has more than 30 companies that have booked exhibit space) is: Does a break from the January chill to Sydney's glorious midsummer climate warrant the inevitable cynicism of your boss? …

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