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SLA 2005: General Sessions

Most, if not all, of my posts this week will be about my experience at the SLA Annual Conference in Toronto, Canada, last June 5-8. Below are a few notes on the General Sessions. I will be writing about other talks and my personal experiences in the next few days.


All the participants gathered for the first time in one venue for the Opening General Session. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were so many of us—in all sizes, shapes and colors. Don Tapscott, the speaker and author of The Naked Corporation, spoke about the librarian's role in today's should-be-transparent corporations. Memorable quotes: "The problem with librarians is they think they're in the library business" and "If you're gonna be naked, you better be buff." For more detailed notes, see "Don Tapscott at SLA 2005 Conference."
Bill Buxton, technology designer (my term), was the speaker at the General Session on the second day. He started by quoting Melvin Kranzberg ("Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral") and proceeded to illustrate how technology, if not designed properly, will most likely be bad. He also cited the blackboard as an example of "technology" that works. Why? Because it gets the job done. For more detailed notes, see "SLA 2005: Bill Buxton."
At the Closing General Session, Gary Hamel, author of Leading the Revolution, spoke about change and how we're all becoming more ignorant faster. He emphasized the need for innovation and challenged the librarians present to "Move from being custodians of information to catalysts for renewal." For more detailed notes, see "SLA2005 - closing keynote - Wednesday 09:00."
It is only now that I am writing about it that I realize that what I learned at the General Sessions were, in fact, applicable to the Philippines. The need for transparency, after all, led to demands that the contents of wiretapped conversations between the President and an election official be widely disseminated, while technology made the proliferation of recordings possible. And transformation? I'm hoping we'll have some of that in the near future.


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