InfoCamp Seattle 2011 Recap

This was my first InfoCamp; will definitely attend again if possible. The crowd was fun – let’s say quirky – super energetic, full of great ideas about how to make information and data more useful to humanity.

The theme for InfoCamp this year was DIY; how to make the best use of the resources all around us. This was evident in the sessions people brought to present, or the sessions they created on the fly [which is what makes InfoCamp an un-conference].

Here’s a few notes I scribbled during both days at the conference; some are personal reflections on what was going on while others are direct links to resources shared at InfoCamp.

Nishant Kothary’s keynote talk woke me up; got me excited about typography [again]. If typography benefits the most from HTML5 and CSS3; let’s hope we see writers of good content coming back to the web; thinking less about designing for the web and more about telling a good story. See the Lost World’s Fair’s demos for what’s possible.

Nishant’s talk also reminded me how important it is to share my work with my family; help them not only understand it but also collaborate with them on making it more vivid [to them].

– Namho Park’s talk, Taming the Data Monster, was my personal favorite from InfoCamp. It illustrated how to tell a RELEVANT to YOU story with large datasets. I’m thinking about this a lot these days, now that RMC OData is live and in the wild.

Links from Namho’s talk:
Information is Beautiful
Billion Dollar Gram
Envisioning Development
GE Appliance Costs
County Sin Rankings
Flowing Data
Managing News
Google Gadgets

– Jen Matson’s talk on HTML5/CSS3/JQuery was a nice overview. What was interesting to me about this talk was how she transitioned away from writing code but had to get back into it to realize the designs she wanted to create [for herself and clients]. This is a truism about working in the software industry [and yes, I believe all web design firms are in the software industry]; you can’t avoid being in code.

– Generation i talk got me thinking about how humans are not the only species on planet Earth affected by digital advancements and the pervasiveness of devices and networks.

– For the Love of Mobile UX talk quote:”focus on utility, we’re past the ‘whistling Dixie to look up a contact’ era”

– Jim Pace’s talk on the future of libraries was especially relevant for rural libraries or small city library systems. We chatted about his experience in Boise, Idaho; trying to integrate maker craft shops within the library building. I believe this is important for kids who aren’t destined for college to have a path to pursue. It also aligns with our national need to start making stuff again; re-ignite manufacturing innovation.

– Met a lot of librarians, several unemployed. One was from Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza branch, which we visited this past summer during our vacation. This seems wrong, like highly qualified teachers being unemployed.

This was a general question running through my mind during InfoCamp: what can we do to transition information science/library science folks into a vital role in our information age? We’re creating digital information [data] at an unprecedented rate; and when combined with the non-digital information that existed before [say] smartphones and iPads; there’s a lack of organization to bridge them. Isn’t this what librarians do best?

– Sunday I gave a lightning talk [five minutes!] on RMC OData. It was a blast to stand on an old fashioned soapbox to give the talk. The audience was surprised a Microsoft team would ‘open’ their data with no strings attached. Followed up my RMC OData lightning talk with heavy participation in a few related talks later in the day, like Semantic Web.

The Semantic Web talk didn’t come to any obvious conclusions. There’s lots of semantic data available now; just add app developers with creative/practical uses for it and we might see a mashup revolution. The One Bus Away app was an example we discussed for a bit. Apparently King County has lots of data they want to expose but they’re short on funding and [repeat] app developers with creative/practical uses for it. The Chronicling America site doesn’t appear to be semantic ready, but it’s a fascinating view of America’s history that should be considered for a mashup.

– UW Library staff gave a great talk on the future of reference desks. I feel their pain, as they try to shape what purpose a reference desk serves in our digital future. See previous thoughts at the beginning of this post on why I believe reference desks should be here to stay.

That’s it for now.



  1. Aaron

    Hi, I didn’t get a chance to download Nishant’s keynote in time and can’t seem to find his presentation anywhere (including in the link provided). By any chance can you provide me a link to his .pdf or presentation. His keynote was one of the many highlights of the whole Infocamp.

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