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e-Research meeting at Telford

I’ve been hesitating to blog this meeting, as I didn’t find it entirely useful, and am not too keen on criticising meetings. For one thing, I used to organize day meetings and occasional conference sessions when I worked for an e-learning organization called CETIS, and know that inevitably, you get the odd speaker whose presentation content or style is quite different to what you had expected as organizer; and I have also presented at meetings where it’s quite clear that the session I’ve been asked to do isn’t perhaps as relevant to meeting delegates as the person who asked me along may have thought. So I’m sympathetic to the difficulties of providing agendas which meet everyone’s needs and expectations.

I booked into this meeting at a suggestion from a senior member of staff that it might be useful, and agreeing that a roadshow on e-research sounded very useful for my role as User Support Librarian here at Bangor University, where I support university members hunting for research and information.

The meeting opened with a general introduction, and we were then given a talk on e-Research from a speaker from the National e-Science Centre. He seemed a very nice man, and was fine as a speaker, but the content was mostly about things like different types of computers which could be used, and was perhaps a bit general for me, and not so relevant to my work.

The next speaker talked about Web 2.0 tools. I hoped to find this interesting, as I’m very interested in Web 2.0, currently experimenting with various tools and writing a scoping study for our library on their potential uses for libraries, and was interested to hear about the uses of Web 2.0 for e-research. Unfortunately, the speaker gave quite detailed descriptions of various tools which I already know and use, and so I didn’t find the talk very useful, and also unfortunately ran over time (20 minutes were allocated and he spoke for 45), leaving insufficient time for the next speaker (who was cancelled), and leaving me feeling quite anxious about getting to stop for teabreak (I’m currently pregnant, so it’s hard to sit still and not eat for large amounts of time!).

After teabreak, we had another presentation from the same speaker, shorter this time, but again, not as relevant as the title promised; and then an interesting presentation on the use of Facebook to do research into young males and gaming (specifically Grand Theft Auto IV). I found this very interesting, both the use of Web 2.0 to gather research in a way which suited the participants, and some of the findings; though there was perhaps too much emphasis towards the end on the findings, when really we were there to hear about the e-research aspect, i.e. the merits of using online technologies for research. Nonetheless, it was for me the most interesting part of the roadshow.

The final session on video collaboration was again a bit too general for me, but then I have attended the odd session on video conferencing at other meetings, and I was tired after a long morning of sitting still.

Overall, thanks to the organizers and the speakers, and apologies if I’ve offended anyone; but it was part of my remit to write up the day for my blog, and I guess the focus of sessions was just slightly different to my hopes and expectations, not to criticise anyone who made the effort to organize or present.

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