JISC10 Jottings

jisc10 tag cloud

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!

6 thoughts on “JISC10 Jottings

  1. Thanks for the reflections – as you and I both know JISC conferences only work as well as they do because of the huge effort put in by so many – not least queen bee Grace ! I thought the sessions really improved this year – due in large part to the full engagement of so many in the programme areas and the overall effort to try and make sure people left with something useful.

    I think you may well be right about the demos – I think (hope) this is due largely to the challenging venue (did someone actually design it?)

    The amplification that you started back in 1865 or whenever is now truly embedded – stats will follow but Twitter was v strong as was the following of the streaming. Not that I am moaning (moi?) but I don’t think many people realise the huge resource you have to pile into elements like the debate (I wonder how many checked out the ranks of techie types managing the voting, streaming, filming, blogging etc?) – a resource that runs through into the main conference as well. Amplification is not easy or cheap no matter how necessary it now is.

    Interesting comment about the food – how many years have people moaned that their beef Wellington wasn’t quite up to scratch or the cheese soufflé had sunk a little, despite their not paying a penny piece to get into the conference? This year the scaled back finger food seemed to be a success from early scans of the evaluation (even if it was more expensive that last years hot plates at Edinburgh – London venues, grrrr) – maybe next year an M&S sandwich and packet of crisps….

  2. I still think posh packed lunches are the way forward 🙂 At least it will be a while before a return to London is deemed a requirement.

    I think the amplification stuff is a bit of a vicious circle as well – the better you do it one year, the more that is expected the next and that also ends up equaling more resource. The level of it this year though was as good or better than any event I have attended or followed online and that is pretty amazing.

  3. Thanks for the notes – very interesting…

    Being slightly pedantic, it’s perhaps worth pointing out that my analysis of the Twitter activity at #jisc10 is actually an analysis of the TwapperKeeper archive of the event. I point this out only because the archive is still being populated (either that or it has missed a lot of the Twitter traffic) so my summary is only partial.

    I note that you didn’t cover the pre-conference debate. I’ve watched two of these now (this year’s and last year’s) and neither has worked as well as it might have. On Twitter I suggested that this year’s felt a little ‘choreographed’, which I accept is not the right word. Paul Walk suggested ‘polite’ as an alternative – but I don’t think that is right either.

    I think it just doesn’t feel very animated or something. In adopting a Question Time type of format, JISC sets expectations for a similar kind of debate – yet the topics themselves just don’t stir up much passion.

    I don’t know if that is because the topics chosen are wrong, or ‘safe’ or something – or because there simply aren’t any topics worth getting excited about any more? I kinda went away feeling like I’d heard it all before 😦 Perhaps it was better if you were physically in the room.

    I totally agree with your comments about Martin Bean – it was a great opening talk I thought. Less so with those about Bill St Arnaud. His talk was drier… but was certainly thought provoking (even though I’ve seen him give it before) and, from the perspective of Eduserv at least, much more challenging.

  4. I agree Bill St Anuad was thought provoking and I can particularly see why Eduserv might have an interest but I found his style off putting and the information overload was hard as it was the 5th talk I’d been in that day. Plus at the best of times I find anything to do with data centres a struggle I’m afraid!

    To be honest I chose not to write about the debate for a reason. I don’t think they ever really work – I think even Question Time has more duds than real debates (I mean look at the Leadership Debate this week – it was pretty low key for something so important). That said I know the huge amount of work that goes into them and I know everyone strives to get that real debate energy. The only real way though is to have people from truly opposite ends of an opinion spectrum (say for instance around Open Access) but I don’t think we’d ever be comfortable giving a platform to that level of disagreement.

    Despite being in the building I watched it on the stream as well in another room so I don’t know if there was more energy in the room but most of the attendees I spoke to quite enjoyed it..

  5. I think the perhaps because the debate had such a broad topic it couldn’t engender much passion.

    “A perfect vision – technology priorities for higher education”

    That said quite a few issues were uncovered, and hearing views from the audience was interesting. I actually think it went quite smoothly, and I could see a lot of organising had gone into it.

    A more focused topic would I think result in more depth and passion. I think a higher level of polarisation could be introduced while keeping it realistic. That’s the trick!

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