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Magazines > Information Today > March 2004
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Information Today
Vol. 21 No. 3 — March 2004
On the Road
Spring Fever
By Nancy Garman

March marks the beginning of the busy spring and summer conference season. Information Today, Inc. has six events coming up in the next 2 months: Computers in Libraries, Internet@Schools East, Buying & Selling eContent, WebSearch University, Enterprise Search Summit, and Streaming Media East. That's a lot of conferences to attend. However, they're all very different, and only a handful of speakers are scheduled for more than one event.

Location, Location, Location

Location is always a key factor for conference attendees. The spring venues, which include Arizona, Washington, D.C., and New York, will give easterners the advantage. (Westerners, your turn comes in the fall when both KMWorld & Intranets and Internet Librarian will be held in northern California.)

If you're in the Washington, D.C., area, Computers in Libraries or Internet@Schools East should already be on your calendar. Both will be held the second week of March at the Hilton Washington. The hotel is inside the Beltway and near a Metro stop, so these two events are easy commutes for locals.

New Yorkers can hop on the subway in mid-May to attend any of three ITI conferences. This year, WebSearch University makes its first appearance in the Big Apple, Enterprise Search Summit debuts, and Streaming Media East is back for a return engagement. In late April, Buying & Selling eContent attracts a different crowd to Scottsdale, Ariz., where the warm sunshine is a welcome relief after the long, cold winter months.

All About the Content

Location matters, but when making the case to management to send you to an event, it's the content that counts. Will what you learn, see, or hear help you do your job better? What know-how can you take back to the office? As a conference programmer, I keep a mental profile of the who, what, and why of each event. This guides our decisions about programming and speakers and helps us differentiate between them. Here's what you'd learn if you could read my mind (or between the lines of the programs) about ITI's spring conferences.

Computers in Libraries (March 10–12, with workshops on March 9 and 13) is a must-attend if you're a working librarian or library staff member. This East Coast version of Internet Librarian features all the popular speakers, authors, and search experts who are ITI conferences fixtures. It may already be early March as you read this column, so if you're local and haven't registered for the full conference, at least plan to spend a few hours browsing the exhibit hall. In addition to talking with the vendors or enjoying the evening reception, you'll find many popular speakers who are conducting free, short cyber-tours and clinics.

Internet@Schools East (March 11–12, in conjunction with Computers in Libraries) is a direct-connect with ITI's MultiMedia & Internet@Schools magazine and is organized by David Hoffman, the publication's editor. Like the magazine, the conference program
is practical and concentrates on how to integrate technology with classroom and curriculum goals. Educators have a lot of events to choose from, but Internet@Schools has a unique technology and media-center focus and an intimate feel due to the concentrated, single-track program.

Buying & Selling eContent (April 25–27 in Scottsdale, Ariz.) is where industry executives come to see and be seen and to network in an informal, low-key setting. The program concentrates on strategic issues rather than tactical ones and explores how partnerships and relationships make the content industry tick. Top executives get valuable face time with major corporate buyers and get a chance to receive input at the highest levels. The one-on-one conversations will rival the conference program for your attention.

WebSearch University (May 11–12) is where you can hear all the super searchers and Web gurus in a special 2-day format that has a seminar atmosphere. Attendees receive a loose-leaf binder with handouts, class participation is encouraged, and the speakers answer questions and build on each other's course materials. Tara Calishain (co-author of Google Hacks and editor of ResearchBuzz.com) and Genie Tyburski (Web manager of The Virtual Chase) have joined the WSU faculty, and the 2004 curriculum has been completely restructured. (Tip: You know it's worth attending when the super searchers and experts sit in on each other's courses to find out what's new.)

Enterprise Search Summit (May 11–12) is brand-new this spring. Like WebSearch University, it offers a seminar environment, conference binders with handouts, and a structured curriculum taught by industry experts and consultants. Eight premium sponsors have signed on and will be part of the conference program. This gives attendees a chance to see and hear firsthand some of the leading site-search solutions. If one of your assignments is developing or implementing an internal search function, this conference is a 2-day, one-stop chance to get a lot of practical information.

Streaming Media East (May 11–12) is back in New York after lots of buzz at the successful Streaming Media West show in California last fall. Business applications comprise one of the most rapidly growing segments of this emerging industry, and the event will feature speakers from organizations like Goldman Sachs, the University of Cincinnati, Harvard Business School, FOXnews.com, Forbes.com, and others. Information professionals may find some interesting nuggets in this program and the exhibit hall as topics like metadata and digital asset management become important to the tech experts who drive streaming development.

Converging Worlds

Bonus tip: Check out the pre- and post-conference workshops, especially if you're local to one of the venues. Even as I work to develop a unique focus and direction for each event, it's intriguing to discover where some topics intersect with others. For instance, the metadata and taxonomy workshops at Enterprise Search Summit; the news, business, and how-to-start-a-research-business sessions at WebSearch University; or Steve Mack's streaming workshop at Streaming Media East may be of interest even if you aren't a streaming media whiz or working on enterprise search. The interests of information professionals transcend the scope of libraries or any single event, and the rich mix of topics in these workshops offers a way to broaden your horizons or acquire some specialized know-how.


Nancy Garman is Information Today, Inc.'s director of conference program planning. Her e-mail address is ngarman@infotoday.com.
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