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OLA 2007: Top Trends

From left: Amanda Etches-Johnson (blogwithoutalibrary.net),
Michael Stephens (Tame the Web), John Blyberg (blyberg.net)

The photo above shows the speakers for the Top Tech Trends (3T) session, but since this post will cover several sessions, I thought of adopting a comment made at the 3T session—these aren't just top "tech" trends anymore, they're the top trends, period—and call this post "Top Trends."

In relation to this, when Michael Stephens found out that so many in the audience were bloggers, he noted that it was almost like "preaching to the choir." Well, if the word "tech" were dropped from "Top Tech Trends," maybe more non-singers would think of joining the congregation =)

There are more observations and photos below, but in case you're not interested in reading further, the top trend for me was the fact that so many bloggers were speakers. And not just at OLA, but other conferences, too. In some cases, the bloggers were already well-known speakers before they even started blogging. But I think the majority started getting invited as speakers because of their blogging. I'm not quite in their league, but that's what happened to me...

Anyway, among the speaker-bloggers whose sessions I was unable to attend was John Dupuis (Confessions of a Science Librarian), who thought meeting me was a "highlight"! Well, as he says, "It's always a lot of fun meeting bloggers face-to-face after only ever reading their words." Ditto =)

Then there was Sophie Brookover (Pop Goes the Library), whose session I wanted to attend because of the subject matter and not because I knew she was a blogger. However, thanks to Murphy's Law, I barely got there for the last five minutes of her talk. It's a good thing she gave me her copy of her slides (pdf) when I approached her at the end of the session.

Next up, the ones I did attend. The "All Conference Event" on "Thu @ 2:15 pm" was supposed to be The Future of Search: Bradley Horowitz, but I guess Horowitz couldn't make it (note: some form of explanation from the organizers would have been nice), that's why Tomi Poutanen, who writes occasionally for the Yahoo! Search Blog, was the one who walked us through "Search and the Emerging Social Web."

What I found most interesting about his session were the stories he told about Yahoo! Answers (Y!A), which seems like it's similar to the now-defunct Google Answers. But the big difference between the two is that Y!A is really a social networking site for information seekers and reference librarian wannabes, while GA was really just a business. What's the future going to be like? It's going to involve a lot of social networking... especially for businesses.

Michael Stephens

Michael Stephens was introduced as the "Mick Jagger of social software." The photo above doesn't quite capture his energy and infectious enthusiasm for Library 2.0, but I think that getting a clear shot of him with only his hands in motion was pretty good. While it may be said that he's a tech evangelist, he warns that we need to "Be mindful of technolust," and adds, "Don't do it because it's cool, but because it serves a purpose." Check out the many sites he recommended via his slides (pdf).

Finally, there was the session shown in the photo at the top of this post. In addition to Stephens, there were Amanda Etches-Johnson, one of the bloggers I looked up to when I started blogging, and John Blyberg, the person responsible for Ann Arbor District Library's award-winning website/blog.

Etches-Johnson made a very good point that Filipino librarians would do well to heed: library websites should NOT be afterthoughts. In many libraries in North America, librarians in charge of the website aren't just "webmasters" anymore but "branch managers." Blyberg, meanwhile, addressed those who feel overwhelmed by the rapid changes taking place now by noting that, "We don't always need to understand the big picture, we just need to know how to be part of it."

And then Stephens started going all over the place—literally—and quoted Karen Schneider: "Open source is free as in kittens, not beer," meaning that kittens need to be taken care of AND they turn into cats. Open source doesn't go down as easily as beer, but it's getting easier to use.

The photos below are ones taken by Stephens from the podium (!) at both of the sessions I attended. Click on them to see the originals. Leave a comment if you see me =)

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