Skip to main content

From a conference to an unconference

So, between Thursday 13th June and Saturday 15th June, I attended the annual BIALL conference in Glasgow, thanks to the help of a generous bursary from BIALL. Now, due to funding restrictions with my previous employer, I'd not been able to attend this event since 2008. As this is the main professional event for the UK legal information sector, I always felt frustrated that I was missing out on being somewhere where important developments were being discussed, and that I wasn't getting to make the connections with people that I should.

However, since 2008, lots of things have changed, especially in the way people who are effectively strangers to each other can communicate. Basically: Twitter happened.

Now, through Twitter, I feel like I have an excellent network of contacts both within my sector and outside it, and as I restrict the amount of people I follow/allow to follow me, I feel I really know them quite well. So when I need help with anything, I can ask my contacts, and get a good range of trustworthy responses. This has also meant that, when I got to the conference this year, I already "knew" (from Twitter interactions) a large number of people. Of course, meeting in person is great to allow the cementing and further development of these online relationships, but the ice was already broken on these relationships by initial online contact.

So, what was the conference useful for, beyond the development of professional relationships? It was a chance to attend talks and sessions on areas of legal activity that were of interest to me. The only problem with this was, although the talks were often good in content, the format of a conference means that you just don't get the time to discuss topics in details. You have a speaker, who speaks, and then answers a few questions from the audience. It's a discussion, but it's only with one person. There's a certain amount you can learn, but it's only from one person, and anything that others in the audience may have to contribute is filtered out by time and format restrictions. Also, it's a discussion being held solely with legal information professionals: a subset of a profession only talking to itself about itself isn't particularly healthy!

Therefore, after discussions with some other attendees, I had an idea, and made a suggestion to some of the Committee members of the Scottish Law Librarians Group. I suggested that we try and create a Scots Law Unconference, to enable professionals working in Scots law to interact with each other, across all sectors, not just those working as information professionals, but academics, government staff, and legal practitioners. It's just the beginnings of an idea at the moment, but I think that there's a real lack of a space for people working in Scots law to have contact with people in other areas of the law, which means you can become very blinkered about what factors are impacting on not only your own work, but that of others working in law too. There's also the problem with the standard conference format, in that it's set up to enable one person to teach a group about their topic/experiences, rather than allow a group to discuss and learn from each other around a theme. I know there was some frustration at BIALL at the lack of an opportunity to do just that (although in one case, discussing Open Access in academia, a lunchtime discussion meeting was set up informally), so an Unconference format, with a body/group guiding the discussions themes would be more conducive to this type of sharing. As the main body for legal information professionals in Scotland, with members in various workplaces and sectors, the SLLG would be well placed to investigate the possibilities of an event like this and host it, welcoming any participants with an interest in Scots law.

It might take a bit of effort to get it off the ground, and the format might not suit everybody, but if it doesn't work out...well, at least we tried, right? And if nobody ever tries, nothing every changes.

Now....anyone out there want to volunteer a lovely venue to the SLLG, and perhaps some nice sponsorship ;)

Comments

stupidgirl_no1 said…
I have a lovely venue you can use but I've been told before I'm too far away - http://www.socofadvocates.com/files/File/RoomHire2013.pdf

Can't wait to try out your idea though, fabby!

Popular posts from this blog

A ladyfellowing

Well, in January this year, I submitted my Fellowship portfolio, and heard in April that it had been successful, making me now officially a Ladyfellow and able to add FCLIP after my name, yay!

Me registration fees were paid in September 2015, so technically it took less than 18 months from registration to submission. However, that doesn’t include the good few months before that, preparing my thoughts, talking to my mentor, and plotting out just how I would Get This Damn Thing Done, so realistically, it was more like a 2 year process.

So, how big a task was it? In a “dear god, what have I done” moment, I totalled up the word count of all items in the portfolio, and it came to approximately 30,000 words. That’s easily the largest piece of work I’ve ever produced (I’m a rubbish student, so I’ve never had to produce an academic dissertation). So yes, it turns out that reviewing your career and achievements to date, and reflecting on what you’ve learned from all of your experiences is quite …

Do you read with your eyes, or your ears?

This article discusses the decline in ebook sales, and explains some of the potential future challenges, once of which is that the main growth area seems to be audiobooks. Publishers are now seeing audiobooks as their best area for growth rather than ebooks.
This does not make me happy! I am not an old fashioned person who expects a book to be a physical object - I have both a well-stuffed Kindle and a rapidly read-and-returned collection of charity shop purchased books at home. Physical books are merely containers for the exciting contents, and the contents work as well digitally as they do physically. What I don’t have in my home however is any audiobooks. Because I hate the damn things.
I just cannot get on with them. For a while a few years ago I commuted by driving for about 30 minutes each way in often-semi-static traffic. So I thought I’d put some audiobooks on in the car so the time was a little bit more productive. Nope: it didn’t work for me. I was focused on the driving/traff…