Friday, 23 July 2010

Escaping the echo chamber

There was a very interesting talk in Leeds yesterday on the issue of the library echo chamber.  Ned Potter and Laura Woods talked about the problems we have with people's perceptions of us and what we do, and with most of the rebuttals coming in the form of blog posts and tweets that are only read by other librarians and do nothing to change the wider picture.  They did also point out some examples of people that have managed to break out of the echo chamber, including fellow Aber student Ian Clark and his recent Guardian article.

I really liked the presentation itself.  I've seen Prezi used very well once before, but this one was excellent.  I wish I could have been have been there, but Leeds is a bit of a trek from Cambridge. 

The most interesting thing for me (apart from the importance of the issue itself) was how easily I could follow the presentation remotely.  Ned and Laura both blogged in the morning about the event and linking to the presentation. They used future tweets so that they could send out their talk in real time for those of us that couldn't make it (including a bit of the back-and-forth nature of the presentation) and called for our participation in feeding ideas back to the room.  Now, admittedly there was  a bit of a time zone mix-up that meant I got to read the presentation an hour before it actually happened, but in a way I think that's a good thing.  Often there isn't enough time for remote followers to get their input into the discussion - having a bit of a head start meant that we had more opportunity to join in.  The tweets have been archived using TwapperKeeper.

I think we all have a lot to learn from the way this presentation was organised.  I'm definitely going to try their approach in future - although I believe Prezi is supposed to be very difficult to do well.  No different from Powerpoint then.  Oh, and I mustn't forget to tell the world what we actually do and try to become another echo chamber escapee!


  1. This is a very good summary of my impressions of the presentation and event. I thought the early live tweets were a fortuitous mistake for exactly the same reason - it gave non-attendees a chance to contribute without lagging horribly behind.

    I haven't actually watched the presentation yet (or even read Ned or Laura's blog posts) - I'm saving that for weekend viewing, so it's a testament to how well they worked Twitter that I feel like I have a good (if undetailed) idea of what they said, and what they think we should be doing to escape the #echolib.

  2. Hi Niamh, I'm really glad it all worked for you! The thing about social media etc is that you can reach a much larger audience with a presentation than just the one in the room, and it feels more immediate and vital to do that in real time than by just saying afterwards "here are my slides". So it's something I'm glad seems to be working well (albeit on European time!).

    And of course, it escapes one echo chamber (the location), although admittedly only to flow into another one (the bibliosocialmediasphere).

    Prezi is very straightforward to start using, slightly more difficult to produce something that is actually nice to look at... Although the last two I've done have been relatively complicated, keeping things simple generally works more effectively, I think - too much lurching is a bad thing!

  3. Thanks for the comments! I'll have a play with Prezi some time in the not-too-distant future and report back on how I get on :D