Humanizing Information Science:
By Lisa Nathan
ASIS&T 2003 Long Beach Conference
Participants of the ASIS&T conference in Long Beach may notice that I changed the conference title. The title of the 2003 conference was Humanizing Information Technology, which is very close to what I believe is the unstated, fundamental theme of every ASIS&T conference – Humanizing Information Science. Attending ASIS&T conferences adds the human element to your work in the field, be it as a student, researcher, faculty member or librarian.
Reading through the conference proceedings, or scanning “report” articles
like this one is similar to eating dry toast compared to the jelly-topped
taste one gets by physically attending an ASIS&T conference. Only by being
at the conference do you get to squirm through presentations by brilliant
people who came ill-prepared to speak, ask questions after entertaining presentations
lacking in content or watch with admiration and appreciation the speakers
who present skillfully and who have well-developed ideas to share. Attending
the presentations and recognizing that these people have both virtues and
shortcomings brings a degree of humanity to our field.
When you attend an ASIS&T conference, the researchers whose work you
have been reading are right in front of you, sweating it out in front of
a sleep-deprived, caffeine withdrawing audience. Their work is being placed
in front of a tough crowd, primed to question and poke holes in their ideas.
You witness the arguments between Michael Buckland and Birger Hjørland,
theory berating from Marcia Bates and the camaraderie developed through
the good natured humor of SIG Con. You stand in line with the leaders of
our field to tug off a spear of fruit from the wobbly pineapple tower or
run into them while balancing teacup, bag and papers trying to find the
next presentation. Reading through the proceedings will not engage you in
discussions with practioners from the field that range in topics from the
value of the last presentation to what café serves a decent cup of
The conference serves to humanize and enhance our field, bringing together
diverse people, projects and ideas in a friendly, inviting atmosphere. The
one thing the conference can not offer is your input. Your attendance at
the next ASIS&T conference will enrich your perception of our field
and enrich our field with your perception.
"...the researchers whose work you have been
reading are right in front of you, sweating it out in front of a sleep-deprived,
caffeine withdrawing audience. "