|The 15th Annual AIIP (Association of Independent Information
Professionals) Conference was held April 1922 in New Orleans. As the
association’s name implies, the majority of AIIP’s members are independent
information business owners. Most of us tend to work by ourselves, mostly
through virtual contact with our peers and clients. We look forward to
the annual conference as a way to network with our colleagues and friends.
Hence, the theme for this year’s conference, "Network in New Orleans,"
was quite appropriate. And network we did. There was the constant buzz
of introductions, greeting peers, and catching up with old friends.
The event kicked off with an opening reception in the exhibit hall that
was sponsored by Lexis-Nexis. For such a small conference (it’s nowhere
near the size of the Special Libraries Association or Internet Librarian
events), the number of exhibitors and their prominence were impressive.
Among the 14 represented were Information Today, Inc.; Factiva; Dialog;
Catch the Web; Intelliseek, Inc.; Chemical Abstracts; BiblioData; Copyright
Clearance Center; ECNext; ingenta; and the National Library of Medicine.
In addition to sponsoring the opening reception, Lexis-Nexis had a Cyber
Connection area set up in the exhibit hall so that no one would suffer
from e-mail or Web withdrawal.
The keynote session, titled "The Invisible Web," was presented by Chris
Sherman from Searchwise and Gary Price from George Washington University.
As usual, the two of them were very informative. The Invisible Web is loosely
defined as "information on the Web that search engines either can’t or
won’t index." It’s estimated to be anywhere from two to 50 times the size
of the "visible" Web, with resources that are often of a higher quality.
Much of the Invisible Web is composed of file formats such as Adobe PDF,
Flash, and streaming media; real-time data (stock quotes, weather updates,
airline flight information, etc.); and dynamically generated pages (CGI,
There are some sources that are helpful in finding Invisible Web sites.
One is named (no surprises here) InvisibleWeb.com and is hosted by Intelliseek,
Billed as "The Search Engine of Search Engines," it’s a directory-style
site of Invisible Web resources. Another similar and equally useful site
is BrightPlanet’s CompletePlanet (http://www.completeplanet.com).
One word of caution about the Invisible Web: It’s only one of the many
resources available to information professionals. It’s not the single approach
for all research projects nor should it be used in a vacuum. The Invisible
Web should complement your usual sources, not replace them.
Tools of the Trade
Following lunch on the top floor of The Hotel Monteleone, which had
a wonderful view of New Orleans, there were three concurrent sessions.
One, "Tools of the Trade—Who Uses What and Why," was a panel discussion
with plenty of audience interaction and participation. The diverse panel
included Marjorie Desgrosseilliers (AccuSearch Information Services, Inc.),
Risa Sacks (Risa Sacks Information Services), Susan Detwiler (The Detwiler
Group), John Lescher (Vivamus Concepts, Inc.), Gary Price, and Chris Dobson
(F1 Services, Inc.). The idea behind this session was to learn what tools
and tricks other information professionals use to make their everyday work
a little easier. We often assume that everyone else knows the little shortcuts
we use in our work, but that’s usually not the case. For example, Dobson
demonstrated how to "fool" Microsoft Word into assigning page number "1"
to a page that might not really be the first page in a document. Detwiler
shared her experience of hiring a professional publicist, reinforcing the
late Sue Rugge’s adage, "Do what you do best and hire the rest."
Other tools and tips suggested by the panel included the following:
a fast 32-bit graphic viewer for Windows. For personal use, IrfanView is
freeware; for business use, the current price is $10. When looking through
the various pages of a Web site, users can print a hard copy of the Site
Map. As they visit a page, they check it off on the list. This helps to
avoid going to the same page(s) over and over again if, like me, you can’t
remember where you’ve already been.
For an easy way to save a picture of a Web page that will automatically
add a date stamp, rather than printing out all of the pages, users can
capture them with Adobe Acrobat. The image will be saved as an Adobe PDF
file and will show the day it was saved. (You must have the full version
of Adobe Acrobat to do this; the Reader alone will not capture a page.)
To keep up-to-date on search engines, frequently visit Search Engine Showdown
Greg Notess’ site that compares, contrasts, and explains the various search
The Virtual Acquisition Shelf & News Desk (http://resourceshelf.blogspot.com)
was started earlier this year by Price. Every week he updates the site
with resources and news for information professionals and researchers.
There’s also a weekly e-mail newsletter that’s an abbreviated version of
what’s posted on the site.
There was one tip that was the best received of all. Desgrosseilliers advised,
"When you’re starting out in business, hire a housekeeper."
Roger Summit Award
For the third time, AIIP’s former presidents presented the Roger Summit
Award, which was named for the industry leader and online pioneer. This
year’s Roger Summit Award Lecturer was Carlos Cuadra, co-founder of Cuadra
Associates, Inc. Cuadra talked about his professional life and all that
he accomplished despite many obstacles. He was the creator of the SDC Search
Service, one of the world’s first online retrieval services, and, subsequently,
ORBIT, the first commercially available online database. Cuadra admitted
to the audience that if he had had Roger Summit’s management experience,
he would have been able to foresee the roadblocks in his way as he worked
to finish ORBIT. In fact, he nearly thought it would never be released.
Luckily, Cuadra was proven wrong and has since been very successful. He
even enlisted the assistance of his young son to help with the computer
programming to convert the records.
The next set of concurrent sessions included the panel discussion "AIIP’s
International Members: What Makes Their Work Different." This session included
six AIIP members who live or work outside the U.S.: Crystal Sharp (Canada),
Valerie Matarese (Italy), Arnoldo Sterinzon (Argentina), Ulrich Kaemper
(Germany), Gloria Zeitak (Italy), and Eiko Shaul, who lives in Canada but
shared her experience of searching for Japanese information. Each panelist
described the challenges of being an information professional in his or
her respective country.
Despite the disparity between the countries represented, there were
some common, recurring threads. Most agreed that a high value was not placed
on information and, accordingly, information professionals. In Matarese’s
case, the area in which she lives is composed mostly of very small manufacturing
companies that aren’t in a position to use her services. As a result, she
concentrates her marketing on other areas of Italy. Sterinzon’s research
is not limited to Argentina; his work tends to cover all of Latin America.
This means he must be fluent in three languages: Spanish, Portuguese, and
English. As expected, Shaul expressed frustration at the difficulty in
finding Japanese resources in English, although she says that this is improving.
Sharp’s experiences are similar to those of us working in this country.
Canada, however, does have a few outstanding government sites that are
loaded with free information and are extremely useful to the business researcher:
Statistics Canada (http://www.statcan.ca/start.html),
and SEDAR (System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval; http://www.sedar.com/homepage_en.htm).
All in all, it was interesting to hear the six recount their experiences
and compare the highs and lows from country to country, as well as from
region to region.
The final day also included concurrent sessions. As I do a great deal
of international research, I was interested in Pam Wegmann’s (of Information
Matters, LLC) session "Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match." A portion
of Wegmann’s business involves setting up appointments for foreign trade
missions, such as foreign chambers of commerce, foreign government entities/agencies,
local chambers of commerce acting on behalf of a foreign country,private
agents, business owners, top company executives, and quasi-governmental
agencies (i.e., Economic Development Units).
Setting up these matchmaking appointments requires researching and selecting
local targeted industries, choosing the best prospects, making appointments,
establishing a schedule, and confirming all arrangements. For those interested
in offering this type of service, the best sources for connecting to trade
delegations includethe World Trade Center, the international section of
the State Department of Economic Development, International Small Business
Development Centers, U.S. Import/Export Centers, and foreign chambers of
While there was an overwhelming amount to learn at the AIIP Conference,
there was also a great deal of fun to be had. The event features an annual
dessert reception, which is generally accompanied by some form of entertainment.
As the reception got underway, a shabbily dressed man wandered into the
room. He went over to the piano and began to play. Soon, hotel security
arrived and escorted this gentleman from the room. He returned moments
later with his hat, wig, and coat in hand, and revealed himself to be Cuadra.
He returned to the piano and was accompanied in a duet by Roger Summit.
Those present also engaged in a rousing game of "Who Wants to Be a Dollaraire?"
Despite the tough questions, this group rose to the challenge of being
knowledgeable contestants and a great audience. Could you have a better
lifeline than an information professional?
As usual, the AIIP Annual Conference was a wonderful balance of learning,
fun, entertainment, reconnecting with colleagues, and, of course, good
food. Next year’s event will be held April 1821 in Long Beach, California.
Sheri R. Lanza is president of Global InfoResources, Inc. Her e-mail
address is email@example.com.