Reflections on #JISC09

This was our first year away from Birmingham since a conference before my time that took place at the Cafe Royale (now defunct and sold off) in London. When we announced we were going to Edinburgh there were the predictable moans about travel cost, distance, no-one turning up etc. As it transpires all these fears were groundless – we had 780 people on site, a refreshing influx of delgates who haven’t attended a JISC conference before and an avalanche of positive comments about the EICC. I won’t rehearse all the arguments again but the venue could not have been more helpful, more professional or more accommodating. The venue worked brilliantly for our event – massively flexible rooms, great wi-fi, good food and an all round good venue. Lets hope the QEII in London proves half as good – between you me and the gatepost I think #JISC10 will be a challenging event; London venues/hotels etc all seem to think that they have a god-given right to business and so pay almost zero attention to customer service it seems to me. Still better not pre-judge the next venue before its happened

Our two keynotes this year did us proud I think. Lizbeth Goodman did divide the audience a bit but a significant number of delegates found her inspirational (which I did myself as it happens) and anyhow isn’t a keynote supposed to challenge? Ewan McIntosh certainly did with a refreshingly robust and direct approach, questionning HE’s approach to many thingsOne of the problems fro me is that it is impossible to get into many sessions and so my view of the day is somewhat skewed. But gratifyngly this year there were many reports of good sessions with a more participative nature. It still seems that some presenters might do with mentoring from an experienced teacher and so get their presentatiions a little more ‘crisp’ …

I think that the area of ‘participation’ was our big success this year – not just in-session but also in the area of access for those who could not be there. The streaming of the keynotes for instance got a resounding thumbs up and the same company will be doing the work for next weeks Bodleian Library event, so I a feeling more comfortable with that now. All sessions were audio recorded which was all up on the web within 24 hours,  a herculian feat (perhaps better described as  Hectorlian feat… sorry), as were pdf’s of all the presentations. Video will follow shortly.  

I suppose the most visible/notable change was that of the Twitter streams – last year there was a little flurry from the Twitterverse of the new cogniocenti but this year it went mad – more than 1300 tweets from the days of the conference, putting #JISC09 in a global number 1 position for tweeted events for those 24 hours. Now you can question what this means but what it actually represents is a massive increase in the number of people commenting and participating in the conference ( a few grumbles on this topic for another post)