On Monday and Tuesday this week I attended the JISC Conference at the QEII Conference Centre in Westminster, London. It was my 7th JISC Conference in a row. For four of them I was the overall project manager (though in reality people like Grace did most of the work and I just got stressed), one I attended as a working consultant as I came on board to lead the first experiments with using the social web to amplify the event and then last year I attended more out of habit than anything else – even paid my own way to Edinburgh! This year was odd as I was back as a full-time member of JISC staff but one who had little or no responsibilities at the event. I kept arriving everywhere early looking a bit lost as I assumed I was supposed to be doing something!
In many ways I felt it was the best conference I have attended. The Martin Bean keynote was a great way to start the day; he is a very charismatic speaker with a nice line in crowd-pleasing presentations with just a hint of an edge. The OU are lucky to have him I think.
I attended 3 sessions this year and they were the 1st ones I’d ever really been to. In the past I was too busy and last year I ended up spending most of my time in corridors catching up with people. I thought the Resource Discovery Taskforce and Open Access sessions went well – particularly during the Q and A elements. I think many JISC topics come alive during discussion rather than presentation. The Community Content session in the afternoon was very popular and had a great bunch of diverse speakers – I loved hearing about Galaxy Zoo and it was interesting to hear what Will Perrin was up to with the 4iP funded Talk About Local. The WWI archive stuff was cool as well – loved the roadshow element – getting out to the people in museums and libraries to digitise on site. Brilliant and I looking forward to what the RunCoCo project comes up with. I missed most of the last talk from the British Museum/BBC due to a meeting but that seemed fun as well.
There were sessions I would have loved to have attended as well – particularly the OER and Developer talks but clashes are inevitable with such a packed programme.
I’m not sure what I felt about the closing keynote Bill St Arnaud. There did seem to be alot of important and interesting ideas in his talk but his presentation style and Brian Kelly style slides (!) distracted me – plus I was pretty tired by then.
As far as the ‘design’ of the event goes I though the main exhibition room and the PODs was a real success and having a room with natural light was a massive plus. As always the JISC stands looked amazing – Greg really has an eye for these things now and the flow of the room seemed to work well for the exhibitors.
I think the venue itself was a real challenge though – there seemed to be alot of corridors and stairs at some points and the transit from session to session could be a pain. I’m also not sure the pimping of demos etc was as obvious as it has been in the past but that might have just been me missing them.
Twitter seemed huge this year. Two years after I thought it would take off but still at least I wasn’t wrong just a bit premature! Andy Powell has done some analysis of the Twitter activity. The live streaming seemed to be another big success – Switch New Media are great at this stuff and I really think it adds to the event (though I wonder if the sessions in the main room couldn’t have also been streamed?)
On the food and drink side I really appreciated the finger food lunch – it was (a) much more manageable while wondering around and (b) sends the right message for the coming challenging times. I also (shockingly enough) managed to pull together a couple of Tweetups in local pubs on both the Monday and Tuesday – most enjoyable.
Great conference – well done everyone. Hopefully I’ll make it 8 in a row in Liverpool next year whatever I am doing for work by then!