Knowledge Mismanagement, FRBR and Margaritas – Oh
By Kristen Shuyler
A Report on the 2003 ASIS&T Annual Meeting
As recently as a month ago, if I had heard what sounded like "furber" in
a conversation, I would have been thoroughly confused – or worried,
depending on the context. However, as a recent "graduate" of LIS
500, I relished the chance to discuss FRBR, XML, Dublin Core, blogs, academic
libraries, and other LIS topics with new friends at the ASIS&T 2003 Annual
Conference in Long Beach this October. Indeed, the most valuable aspect of
the conference to me was the opportunity to meet and talk with new people.
Our own award-winning student chapter, ASIS&T-UW, made my trip possible
through its student scholarship. I am so grateful that I was able to participate
in the ASIS&T community, hear its top thinkers, and share in its after-hours
Spending time with recent graduates of the iSchool, other newly-minted
MLIS folks, and current students from UW and around the world was the core
of the social experience. This is where the beers (and margaritas!) came
into play. It was interesting to hear the lowdown from other people at various
stages in their educations and careers.
I also appreciated the chance to meet a wider range of people by staffing
the iSchool's information table. Prospective students, ASIS&T board
members, iSchool faculty and students who I hadn't met yet, and even the
editor of JASIST (the society's journal) stopped by. Sitting at the table
also gave me a brief respite from the tightly packed schedule.
Although I didn't get to meet them, simply seeing the luminaries of our
field in real life was a highlight for me. After reading articles by Marcia
Bates, Birger Hjørland, Michael Buckland, and Nick Belkin in the
first weeks of the term, it was a thrill to see them in person! The theme
of the conference, "Humanizing Information Technology: From Ideas to
Bits and Back" was closer to "Humanizing the field of library
and information science" for me. I appreciated seeing the faces and
personalities behind the names.
Most of the social action took place during the coffee breaks and evening
receptions, but the sessions also offered glimpses of the social side of
academic discourse. I attended presentations about cooperative virtual reference
services, the information behavior of new immigrants and sex workers, personal
information management, emotion and design, and digital asset management
systems. I especially appreciated the discussions that followed the talks.
The session that tied most closely with my first-year coursework was the "Revival
of the Concept of Documents in the Theoretical Foundation of Information
Science" with Michael Buckland, Birger Hjørland, and Jack Andersen.
Like usual, I thought that the richest part of this session was the discussion.
With visions of antelopes dancing in my head, I was enthralled as the distinguished
panel entertained such questions as "Are YOU documents?" and "What
isn't a document?".
The session that revealed the most about the social world of the field
was SIG/CON. This was an evening event presented by a special interest group
(SIG) whose sole purpose, it seems, is to lighten up the conference with
spoof research presentations. This year's theme, "Knowledge Mismanagement," provided
fodder for entertaining talks that ranged from to hilarious to groan-worthy.
Joe Janes, apparently a perennial favorite at SIG/CON, was cited in several
of the presentations, and gave a well-received talk himself: "Re-centering
User-Centered Design," which suggested techniques such as makeovers
for users. It's reassuring to know that this group doesn't take itself too
Suggestions for making the most of a conference
Not only was the ASIS&T conference a great forum to meet people and
share ideas, it provided a wonderfully broad overview of the current trends
in information science research, and was a lot of fun! I would highly recommend
attending future ASIS&T conferences – or any professional conference,
for that matter.
Some great suggestions about attending conferences are available in three
articles by former iSchool students, which I would suggest reading if you
plan to go to a conference (see sidebar). I'd like to share some new tips
I picked up at the first event I attended – the "new members
brunch," which featured a casual Q&A session with ASIS&T board
members and past presidents. Someone asked, "How do we make the most
of this conference?" and are here the notes I took of the responses:
• Go to sessions you think you won't understand to broaden your thinking.
Session-hopping is okay; if you don't like a session, quietly leave and
find a different one.
Hang out in the hotel bar.
Attend talks by the famous people who you've always wanted to see.
Don't miss SIG/CON!
Go to the networking SIG dinners.
Get e-mail addresses from the folks you meet so you can keep in touch.
Talk to anybody.
Follow the free food (available at the many receptions).
Consider attending the business or planning meetings; all meetings are
I'll vouch for almost all of these (I didn't get a chance to attend the
networking dinners or the business meetings) and add two more of my own:
• Don't forget to enjoy the city hosting the conference! I only spent
a few minutes at the beach, but that little bit of sand and sun in the middle
of Autumn term was worth it.
• Apply for the ASIS&T-UW scholarship or any scholarship offering
support to attend a conference that interests you!
For other articles written by iSchoolers with advice on attending conferences, check out the following links: