Just as the virtual library is an enhancement and not a replacement of the physical library, so too the in-person conference is supplemented and not replaced by technology. This is the first ALA Annual Conference I won’t be attending in a while. I’m glad I’ll be able to keep up through blogs and wikis, but I’ll miss the face-to-face interaction with colleagues from all over the country.
How is social software changing conferences? Is social software making it easier for people to make in-person connections? Are audience members participating more in presentations by having access to chat or Google? Or, are conference-goers isolating themselves in their own technological bubbles? If you are at the conference, why are you reading this blog instead of talking to someone face-to-face? Isn’t that why you are at the conference and not at home in front of your computer?
I always found conferences to be the easiest places to walk up and talk to people. You’ve been pulled away from your to-do list and spend a lot of time in limbo, waiting for things, standing in line. And so has everyone else. Instead of pulling out your BlackBerry or cell phone, try these essential 21st century skills: Eye contact. Smile. Hi, what library are you from?