Thoughts on ASIS&T and Milwaukee

I’ve been back from ASIS&T for several days now (I think it’s Thursday, so apparently a whole week). The conference was really great this year — I found the topic to be more comprehensible (social software), and that went a long way. I have some notes on things to follow up on sometime soon, and names of folks whose research I want to dig up. For me, the highlights were a session on science blogging and sharing scientific data openly (successes and failures) so that folks can benefit from it. Ken Varnum blogged it at RSS4Lib*. Another highlight was hearing Andrew Pace talk briefly about North Carolina State University’s “Endeca catalog.” My best nutshell explanation of this is that they took a type of navigational structure you normally see on shopping websites and applied it to their catalog, so you can narrow your options and refine your search in a way that I think is much more intuitive to folks who are online a lot already. (Here’s Ken on this session, too.)

And of course, another highlight was accepting our Student Chapter of the Year Award, and being able to introduce myself as the chair of an award winning chapter. I didn’t always, but it helped to know in the back of my mind that I could take that on as my role when talking to people.

This year I was more comfortable being there in general. I still had trouble getting myself to make new connections, but I did take some steps in the right direction, and met some new people. The nice thing about ASIS&T is that it’s a small enough association that I saw a lot of familiar faces, even if they weren’t’ people I knew or talked to, this year or last. That helped. I also knew what to expect, and knew to take some time away from the conference while I was in Milwaukee. (I didn’t do that last year in Austin, which I regret.)

To that end, I took half a day to walk around Milwaukee a bit. I visited the awesome Milwaukee Art Museum, and actually spent more time looking at the architecture than the art. The photo here is in fact of the museum, as viewed from a pedestrian bridge from the downtown. The building has neat wings that lowered and raised a couple of times a day, weather permitting. They open them in the morning, close them at night, and flap them at noon. It was really cool to watch. I took a video on my camera but haven’t yet had time to compress it to make a file that’s less gigantic. After that, I walked over to the Milwaukee Public Market for lunch and then visited the main branch of the Milwaukee Public Library. It was a good day.

* Really a great session, and my scientific friends should check it out. Here’s the wiki page for the session, and a post by one of the presenters.

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