On the Road
Working the Workshops
By Nancy Garman
You've been there. You're packed
into a conference room with 500 people and straining to see the PowerPoint
slides on the huge screen at the front (there are no handouts). You're reluctant
to break into the speaker's presentation with a raised hand, and then you're
stuck in a mass of people at the podium after the session waiting to ask your
Conferences are a valuable way to get updated on a range of topics or to
find out who's doing what in other organizations. However, the format offers
attendees limited opportunities to interact with the speakers. And no matter
how fast a speaker talks or how well-planned his or her remarks, the length
and structure of the sessions often preclude in-depth coverage or how-to instruction.
Of course, some smaller events are an exception, such as WebSearch University
and Enterprise Search Summit, which are carefully planned with a tiered curriculum
Personalize Your Conference
Workshops offer a completely different type of learning environment. They
are a great way to get small-group time and attention from some of the speakers.
Usually 3- or 6-hour mini-conferences on specialized topics, pre-conference
workshops allow attendees to learn directly from some of the industry's top
professionals and to get in-depth, valuable advice and information.
At the next event you attend, consider customizing your experience by registering
for one or more of its pre- or post-conference workshops. Did you realize that
before and after the recent Computers in Libraries conference, you could have
attended up to four half-day workshops? Some conferences even offer special
gold- or platinum-pass pricing that includes one or more of the workshops at
a reduced rate.
Create Your Own Conference
You can only spend 1 day out of the office? Or the main conference topic
is not part of your job description? Next time a preliminary program arrives
in the mail, take a good look at the workshop schedule in addition to checking
out the keynotes and sessions. One well-kept secret is that you can register
to attend only a workshop, even if you do not choose to attend the conference
As I worked on the planning for WebSearch University, Enterprise Search Summit,
and Streaming Media East, the three co-located events that Information Today,
Inc. is hosting May 1112 in New York, I was impressed by the broad appeal
of the workshops. I realized that each one has the potential to be a stand-alone
event of interest to anyone who wants a quick course on one of these topics.
New York Workshop Day
WebSearch University, Enterprise Search Summit, and Streaming Media East
offer pre-conference workshops on May 10. These seminars are all taught by
well-known industry figures and are open to anyone who's interested. If you
live or work in the New York area, these half-day workshops are worth a close
look. The following is a peek at what's happening that day at the Hilton New
Quality Business Research (WebSearch University): Learn key business
research techniques, hone your skills for finding accurate and comprehensive
company and industry information, and discover innovative strategies for locating
financial, market, and economic data with Marydee Ojala, editor of ONLINE magazine.
In addition, explore the key differentiators among free, fee-based, and hybrid
business search engines.
Teaching Web Search Skills (WebSearch University): In this practical
seminar, you'll learn how to instruct Web searching newcomers and how to teach
those who think they know everything about the Web. Greg Notess covers the
advantages, disadvantages, and techniques of hands-on training, demonstration
sessions, and online self-paced guides for teaching others about Web search
skills and strategies.
Starting and Running a Successful Research Business (WebSearch University): Learn
how to plan for, set up, market, and run your own independent research business.
What do you really need to know to go it on your own? In this seminar, Mary
Ellen Bates covers all aspects of launching a business, including developing
products or services that your clients will value, marketing yourself and your
company, managing and cultivating clients, and running your operation.
Hold the Presses! News Research Revisited (WebSearch University): This
workshop covers newsgroups, traditional news outlets, news feeds, RSS, blogs,
daily events, specialized newsletters, and more. Ran Hock, author of The
Extreme Searcher's Internet Handbook, will help you learn how to determine
which news sources are credible, how to handle news that affects your individual
environment, and when and how to set up a news-alerting service that meets
Metadata & Taxonomy Strategies (Enterprise Search Summit): Learn
what a taxonomy is, how to get one, and how it really makes a difference. How
do you organize user tests and apply the results in a search-and-retrieval
implementation? This tutorial by Joe Busch covers the basics of metadata and
taxonomies, how metadata drives search functions, what taxonomies are, and
how taxonomies show up in site search.
Building Taxonomies (Enterprise Search Summit): What does every content
manager need to know about taxonomies, metadata, and required fields? How can
a taxonomy and metadata model drive successful search, work flow, content reuse,
and automation of content-production processes? What are the critical elements
of a business case for a content architecture? What are the essential do's
and don'ts of designing a metadata and taxonomy model? This session, a companion
to Metadata & Taxonomy Strategies, is also taught by Busch.
Enterprise Search Primer (Enterprise Search Summit): Learn how enterprise
search engines differ from public Web search engines and how they're the same.
Avi Rappoport will give you a solid grounding on how search engines work, from
indexing to the actual search to the results display. This workshop will cover
robot spiders, general index structures, simple query parsing, retrieval, relevance
ranking, and designing usable search interfaces.
Streaming Media: Best Practices (Streaming Media East): Taught by
Steve Mack, author of The Streaming Media Bible, this workshop walks
you through the entire streaming media process from creation to distribution.
Designed for attendees who want a better understanding of the technical implications
and requirements for developing and delivering streaming media, Best Practices
is suitable for novices but assumes familiarity with streaming media and standard
Understanding Flash Video: A Beginner's Workshop (Streaming Media East): Learn
how to use Macromedia Flash to deliver on-demand and live video to the widest
possible audience via the Macromedia Flash Player. This workshop covers all
facets of Flash video, getting you up to speed on encoding, authoring, and
delivering compelling on-demand and live video experiences. Learn the entire
process and see what you can do with Flash video by watching real examples.
See You in New York
Take a look at these half-day workshops and choose one or two, even if you
can't attend the full conference it's affiliated with. Go to a half or full
day of tutorials on taxonomies or dip into the how-to of streaming media. (Mack
is very practical and makes the technology easy to understand.) Or get a taste
of WebSearch University at a half-day workshop led by one of your favorite
To register for a workshop, go to the ITI Web site (http://www.infotoday.com),
choose the event, and select the appropriate workshop or pre-conference option.
Remember, you do not need to register for the full conference to attend a workshop.
More details about all the workshops and instructors are on the conference
Garman is Information Today, Inc.'s director of conference
program planning. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.