Where can I meet you? How are you telling people the conferences you are attending?

Last year was a banner year for my conference attendance; on top of the always fun Northern Voice, I was able to attend the (not so fun, for me) IMS Alt-i-lab sessions in Vancouver, the mind opening Open Education convergence in Logan, Utah, the WCET conference in Atlanta, SREB’s Online Learning Task Group Meetings (again, back to Atlanta), and closer to home, the BC Ed Tech User’s Group session in Kamloops and Camosun College’s Distributed Education days.

As enjoyable as many of the programs were, the highlight is always the people, the hallway and barroom conversations where new ideas are spawned, plots hatched and connections made. Indeed, this year’s crop was spectacular in this regard; as much as I am in almost daily contact with my online network, the opportunity to see Chris Lott and Jim Groom twice in one year, and Brian and D’Arcy more times than was seemly was a great boon to my thinking, growth and personal well being.

I typically canvas my network of close friends and edublogger buddies about what events they are thinking about attending, as I know this will factor into my own planning. But this got me wondering (which I did aloud on Twitter) if there wasn’t a better “web 2.0” way to find out this information, especially a way that would allow me connect with people who I read and am interested in but don’t already have strong ties with.

As usual, Twitter yielded at least one good suggestion, upcoming.org, a site purpose-built for this. So I dutifully reactivated my account there, but I have some concerns. Not uncommon with any social software, the big one is “who else is there.” As much as I want to connect with new folks, the whole exercise began in an effort to more easily (less intrusively) find out where people I already know and like to talk to are going. The second issue is the lack of uptake of upcoming.org, epsecially amongst the educational technology conferences. A number of biggies weren’t in there (before I added them, a feature I quite like) which makes me suspicious of how useful it will be.

So, my question for you to start off 2008: where are you telling people (and how can I best find out) what physical meetings you are planning on attending in 2008? upcoming.org? Your blog? Facebook?

For myself, I will endeavor to use upcoming.org for now (cf. http://upcoming.yahoo.com/syndicate/v2/my_events/201841), but I am absolutely willing to be convinced of the merits of some other method. – SWL

11 thoughts on “Where can I meet you? How are you telling people the conferences you are attending?”

  1. Scott,

    Your post got me thinking. I’m in the middle of deciding which conferences to go to this year. Now I am in a bit of a different position in that part of my job is maintaining an awareness of what is going on outside the e-learning industry but given that – do you do any calculation about attending explicitly learning/training-focused conferences or do you also consider things like CES of Game developers Conference in order to get a look at some thinking that would be valuable but maybe outside our standard lanes?


    p.s. Happy New Year!

  2. Mark, attendr is very cool. It is similar to another one, 51weeks.com, that got used at last year’s OpenEd conference. These types of systems are great for pre, during and post-conference support. Increasingly I will ignore conferences that don’t use something like them to allow attendees more opportunities to network and interact with the conference content. And as they grow, they have the potential to become more of what I am talking about, but they are a slightly different beast.

    I am talking about more a way for me to unobtrusively find out about what conferences people are either planning to attend or thinking about attending. Upcoming.org really does exactly what I am thinking about, it’s just I don’t see people in my circles using it (I also gotta say, it has an absolutely sucky way of finding “friends” – seriously, you want me to input their names one at a time? whatever.)

    Mark, on your second question, I wish I had bit more of a mandate to go to things tangential to “elearning” as I think there is much to be gained. But for the most part I do end up at things aimed mostly at higher ed online learning. Northern Voice is a nice exception in that regard as it is not solely higher ed.

  3. It took me a few days to dig down to it, but now I’m sold on upcoming.org. While I’m always disappointed with some aspect of every web site’s UI design, there were some really usable features here that surprised me (the best one was being able to click a user’s icon and in a submenu choose add as friend–think about how comparatively difficult it is to add a contact in yahoo’s biggest social networking app, flickr!)

    And thanks for posting up TTIX. I’ll have to spend some time exploring and posting up events or adding to events myself!

  4. Yaah, Jared! It was starting to feel pretty lonely there in upcoming. Like I said, I’m totally willing to consider other solutions, I’m not totally sold on upcoming.org as the only way to do this, but it certainly does seem to embody all the conventional web 2.0/social software tropes and work well enoguh for what I was looking for. Cheers, Scott

  5. That’s true, but as we both know it’s dangerous to get attached to _any_ web 2.0 tool at this point. The jury’s still out on the long-term viability of so many of them that I try to remind myself that I’m testing the field.

    Twitter is a go, but I still am using 3 different blogging apps because I can’t yet pick my favorite (vox, wordpress, and blogger). I love and hate Shelfari. I still use del.icio.us but it’s not as life changing as I predicted. And upcoming.org? It’s a great idea that I hope continues or is replaced by something better. But sometimes it’s just fun to be in on the ground floor.

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