inocybe blues

LibTechConf and Agitprop

Last week I was at Macalester College’s Library Technology Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This marks my third year presenting there and I just wanted to thank them and everybody who showed up for putting on yet another completely awesome conference.

A few words about LTC: LTC is a weird duck – it’s just about the only library technology conference that regularly takes place in the upper Midwest plus it takes place in late winter. This probably serves to winnow down the folks who might otherwise be primarily interested in a work-paid trip to a popular vacation spot coughmontereycough and that, plus the minimal vendor presence (vendors are there, they’ve got tables set up, but they don’t have input into what presentations are selected, nor do they make presentations themselves) really makes it for me. My talk’s here – this marks the second LTC presentation I’ve done with Scott Chacon’s awesome showoff framework and I’m really starting to groove on it.

I’ve come to a realization over the past few months that the sorts of conferences I really enjoy going and learn the most out of tend to be smaller in size and more along the lines of unconferences like Great Lakes THATCamp or Code4Lib. In particular, I find myself distinctly uncomfortable with for-profit vendor-organized conferences and try to avoid them. I’m mostly okay with for-profit vendors themselves – though not really okay with aggressive lock-ins and proprietary products – and understand fully that they have a role to play in the library ecosystem, but I’d prefer that role be limited to, well, a commodity relationship (I need a product, I can’t make it myself, I give you money, you give me product) and not as an arbiter or influencer of scholarship. So I’ve done things like sign The Cost of Knowledge (natch!), and I think I’m on the brink of saying that I’m not going to patronize or submit proposals to for-profit vendor oriented conferences either. Going to have to think about it a bit more though.

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