Magazine article Information Today

Internet Librarian International/LibTech 2000

Magazine article Information Today

Internet Librarian International/LibTech 2000

Article excerpt

Spring was in the air as the information industry returned to London for the second annual Internet Librarian International (IL,I) conference. The lovely weather and fields of daffodils in bloom made for a great event. Gossip Heaven

You can also tell that spring is in the air when young information industry companies' minds turn their attention to mergers and acquisitions. The hallways at the Olympia 2 conference center were buzzing with discussions of the recent executive changes and reorganizations, rumored mergers and corporate divorces, and the newest products. On the first day of the conference Dialog was asked by authorities to clarify its rumored corporate changes. It then issued a press release that set off another round of speculation. By the end of the conference Thomson was identified as the suitor for the Dialog service, DataStar, and Profound. It was then announced that Bright Station has been built to hold the remains of Dialog CEO Dan Wagner's venture. Delegates, with an ironic twist, surfed to its new Web site (http://www.brightsta tion.com) at the Factiva Internet Cafes and made humorous comments about the home page's "egg" symbolism. Much raucous laughter ensued.

Is Print Dead?

Not by a long shot. This conference is held parallel to the London Book Fair (LBF). I got lost on the street on the way over to the Olympia and asked a local mother with a baby carriage if she could help. She immediately assumed that I was intending to go to the Book Fair and knew how to direct me there. As an inmate of the info biz, it was humbling to have to walk through the LBF's immense space and hundreds of booths. Its booths (which seemed like islands or small homes, actually) were replete with huge offices, secretaries to manage the appointments and authors, buskers, chefs, and booth babes for porno-lite publishers to draw the crowds. Only later did I find most of the electronic information industry's players safely protected in a private hall a fraction of the size of the LBR Print lives.

A Truly Global Conference

This year's ILI attendance was more than double that of last year. And even more interestingly, more delegates came from outside the U.K. than within. The halls were filled with many languages and conversations between delegates who had arrived from all continents, with the exception of South America and Antarctica. It was a treat to see library and information professional issues addressed without the cultural dominance of any one country overpowering the discourse. Storytelling and sharing were the basis of the event, with both speakers and audience questioners seeking the solutions for a balanced approach to a global Internet while meeting the disparate needs of their local users and individual or national cultures. The panels at ILI were also very interactive. Another innovation this year was the presence of 11 free workshops in the Exhibit Hall.

From this vantage point there were several themes that seemed to thread throughout every talk. I also noticed a few emerging themes that might be harbingers of things to come as the non-industrialized world adopts the Internet in the next wave and brings its influences to bear on the medium.

Wireless

Lots of sessions discussed wireless as the next wave of the Internet. The WAP (wireless application protocol) and its integration into hand-helds were clearly on many attendees' minds. This might have been because, as many European Community info pros will tell you, the U.K. is way ahead on wireless technology and implementation. This would appear to be true given the ubiquitous sight of Londoners with PCS phones permanently affixed to their ears. …

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