Top Tech Trends: The Business End

Sunday, January 22, 8am-10am, Marriott Rivercenter, Conference Room 3/4
(This runs a bit long, so it’s been broken into two parts: the business meeting dealing with the TTT events and the Top Technology Trends discussion.)

The agenda for the Top Tech Trends meeting this midwinter was “more of a traditional business meeting than a discussion of trends.” The Top Tech Trends committee members and experts (or “Trendsters” as they came to be called) discussed the exciting increase in participation in the TTT events over the last few years, and evaluated how to make sure these events don’t lose due to their size.

Karen Schneider posted some of her take-away points from the meeting, and I’m doing the same here.

Top Technology Trends events (for those, like me, who haven’t been able to make them) have centered around experts who identify some trends to examine, discuss, and then they open the floor for audience questions. The audience has grown significantly over the last few years. This growth has led to a loss of “discussion” and now sometimes comes across with a talking-heads feel. The Trendsters talk more, the audience less. The group agreed that it would be better to have a more interactive environment and brainstormed how to work on this.

Everyone agreed that there is a need for a strong moderator who could enforce a time limit and synthesize discussion. This super-facilitator would be able to facilitate discussion with the panel as well as the audience.

Seating was also discussed. People really liked the idea of the panel sitting in either a circle with concentric circles for audience members or in a semi-circle to encourage more discussion. The hope is that this would allow for more discussion among members, but also bring back some of the participatory feel for the audience.

Everyone agreed that the audience questions are an important part of TTT, but that they take a lot of time. One proposal was for the audience members to write comments down on a provided card, give them to designated people, and the questions could be combined if similar and chosen to fit the flow of the program. The moderator could then read the questions to the panel.

Karen Schneider recommended another option: a backchannel method that she’s at other conferences. A projected screen could show chat that audience &/or panel members could participate in. This way people could ask questions as they’re most appropriate or add to the discussion of they want. Participation could even occur from people outside the room. Of course, if this method is used, the panel couldn’t be expected to watch it all the time, as they’ll be busy following their fellow Trendster discussion. Discussion of this method revolved around first trying it out at next midwinter to see if it would work for TTT purposes.

The blog was discussed as a way to continue the discussion. Trendsters could post to the blog ahead of time and that would give the moderator content from which to pull questions. If members were reading the blog, they would have context for the discussion ahead of time. The blog is also nice because people can post comments and become part of the conversation. It was recommended that there be an informal poll to see how many audience members are also members of LITA and who checks the blog. This would give the committeee more input for how to use the blog in future TTT discussions (and at the very least, raise awareness of it).

The last part of the TTT event that was discussed was the tenure for being an expert. Wouldn’t it be cool to see “guest” experts, or experts who cycle in once every few years? It’d be good for members to see that they, too, could be a Trendster. It’s also good for the expert/Trendster to know that there are people working on the issues, even when they’re not there. The guest Trendster might be someone outside the library community, too. Maybe even someone from the industry dealing with youth and mobile technology.