What struck me most about the conference wasn’t something from a presentation I saw. What struck me most was how many laptops the crowd had. Four years ago there’d maybe be two in an audience. This year there were dozens. I don’t know why there was such a dramatic increase, but I’m not complaining. After all, the professions techies *should* be using technology, no?
This trend of hardware usage was matched by a change of attitude. I spent Tuesday moderating the social software track and it was inspiring for a number of reasons. The content was good, attendance was high, and the audience’s attitude is what was fantastic. I’m not saying previous groups were cross and mean, but plenty of them seemed quite skeptical about using social software. This year I didn’t find any skeptics in the crowd. I even asked for naysaying during some of the Q&A periods. I’m interpreting this as people catching on. People seemed convinced that we need to be in our users’ space. Now they want to know *how* to do it. Good thing the tools are essentially free and easy to use. Certainly it can be useful for us to step outside of an echo chamber to debate ideas, but I’m happy there even is an echo chamber for librarians learning about this stuff.
Presenting styles are maturing. Michael Stephen’s use of Apple’s Keynote was fantastic. His slides were simple, attractive and legible. Also, he wasn’t chained to the podium. Darren Chase used Jessamyn West’s nifty CSS-based presentation markup. I’ve stopped using Jessamyn’s method in favor of trying to use PowerPoint slides in a non-evil way. My attempts are usually either just one large photo/screen grab, or one sentence in white letters over a black background. Ideally I’ll soon modify the CSS presentation and do it with this. David King did similar things with fonts sized 100+, short phrases, and high contrast, especially in his Introduction to Videoblogging [pdf] presentation. Michael Porter seems to be approaching this too. In addition, he coordinated some prerecorded audio and slides, which seemed like it would be a decent amount of work to pull off.
Good show all!