#ACRL2015 reflections – better late than never?

So, it’s May.  ACRL 2015 was in March.  I’m finally finding time to reflect on my conference experience (hey, they’re both M months, it’s practically the same thing), so here we go!

First things first:  Babies & Conferences

If there is one thing I take away from the ACRL 2015 experience it is this:  It is damn hard — for me — to meaningfully “do” conferences with a baby in tow (even if he *is* adorable).  

Baby in a Le Petit Prince onesie

Mon petit prince rocking the literary themed onesie for the library conference.

Things that made the trip possible:

  • a direct flight there & back
  • arriving the first evening – but going right to the hotel
  • departing the morning of the last day without attending any sessions that day
  • bringing a stroller (hello baby who doesn’t sleep in a stationary bed other than his crib at home!)
  • bringing my mother
  • verbalizing that it is okay not to milk every moment (or, said another way, redefining what ‘milk every moment’ means)

Speaking of milk, I was still nursing at the time so I appreciated that the conference offered a lactation room – though I never ended up using it.  I had all my pump and equipment and the whole kit and caboodle, but thanks to my mom I was able to nurse my baby before and after various sessions.  Seriously though, if I am ever nursing/pumping again and have the option to go to a conference that is overnight in any way, I will be saying no.  So. Not. Worth. It.

Picture of me & baby

We look pretty good for 4:30am local time, I’d say.

Because my partner had a schedule during this time in which he really wouldn’t have been able to be around for our son, I had to bring the baby.  The only way I felt comfortable doing that would be to also bring my mother to watch him while I was, at a minimum, leading the workshop my colleague and I were signed up to do, and if possible to watch him during other times as well.  She graciously acquiesced to be flown to Portland and watch her only grandchild (not a hard sell, I suppose); but I don’t know if I can ever ever ever do something like this again.  It was just too much stress!

Boo.

Still, it was worth it this time

Despite juggling hurdles involving a baby, a mother, and a conference, I deem ACRL 2015 a success!  The workshop I co-lead was awesome (more on that below); and I emerged from the conference energized and with a few implementable ideas.

Some highlights

I got a ton out of a session called “leaving the one shot behind.”  In this session I learned about Library DIY which is one cool library interface.  Not that we necessarily can or should implement this at my institution; but it’s some delicious food for thought.

The presenters talked about several things including train the trainer and peer mentoring models.  But one small nugget I really liked in the presentation was around working with faculty as a way to scale up information literacy instruction.  They asked faculty “what skills do your students need to successfully complete the assignment?”  And then followed that up with “which do you explicitly teach them?” as a way to just acknowledge any disconnects.  I am choosing to interpret skills in a new-information-literacy-framework kind of way.  So, I think these are valuable questions as we here at Wellesley College go about working with faculty in our own scaling up of IL discussions.  Librarians do not need to be the only ones ‘teaching’ information literacy.  Faculty do it too!  And on that note, the presenter followed that point up with a point about offering workshops to faculty to help them create thoughtful / better assignments (which resulted in more information literate students).  Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, turnout was light.  But where implemented – it was effective.  I do wish we could have heard more about this assignment redesign workshop and saw some examples coming out of this, but ah well.

Then I was a huge fan of a session on teaching lifelong information literacy.  Learned about the BEAM model, created by Bizup in 2008, to help students understand that sources can be used for different means:  as background, evidence, to build an argument, and to provide a methodological frame. This model has been extended too – but these are the major ways sources are used in scholarly work.  In teaching with this model in mind, you can get students thinking about authority and relevance: one source may be great as E but not A.  Some ideas they provided around teaching this in the classroom included:

  • having students list the sorts of evidence they think would be useful for their research using at least two or three of the categories in BEAM
  • having students who have sources consider what type of BEAM source each is
  • reading an article and see how the authors use sources based on the BEAM framework
  • having students evaluate sources for authority based on how they intended to use the sources (as B, E, A, or M)

I quite enjoyed a very short session on reading strategies for undergraduates.  The presenters claimed that 49% students cannot read at the college level.  They acknowledged that scholarly articles are not written for students, and that reading these articles feels often like translation work.  So, some work we can do as librarians is to teach them some reading strategies.  I’ve been thinking a lot about this evaluation piece for some of my psychology classes and I do think it is the hardest to teach… because it takes real time and effort.  However, they outline several great strategies for starting the conversation with students.

Finally, I went to a fairly interesting session on ‘high / low / no tech’ instruction strategies.  I think the high and even low tech examples they talked about were too much work for things I would be trying to accomplish in the near term.  These are things like creating fairly impressive videos; moocs; stop motion videos; etc.  But the no tech section raised something that I’ve since had a lot of success with on an individual basis that I hope to bring into a classroom setting and develop further.  It’s simple really – physically place bound journal volumes in students hands and have them look through them.  In their example, the presenter said they used this strategy to teach citation (here’s their handout), but I think one could really do a lot more with this.

Since ACRL, when I’ve worked with students individually and shown them these bound volumes we have to back up first and talk about what the heck those weird dividers are in the middle of the “book.”  Oh!  Those are “issues” – and then we talk about the process of scholarly communications in this discipline, and how physically when the library receives some number of issues that fill up some amount of space we bind them in a little set (sometimes a full volume, sometimes a partial volume, sometimes 2 or more volumes at a time).  So there’s a lot of opportunity there – and this session made me realize that I should really find opportunities to bring these physical print journals into the classroom when I’m thinking about these elements of information literacy.

Some lowlights

Life is just too short to waste time in really terrible conference presentations.  I left two sessions for this reason.  Sounded great on paper (and thus, perhaps, the rooms were full for both); but totally not worth my time.  In lieu of the first, I practiced my workshop talk; and in lieu of the second, I went to my second choice session – which was a winner in that case.  I wonder if there is an etiquette around this that I am not paying attention to?  I was in the back or side for both near an exit so I did not cause too much disruption I don’t think.  But what do others think?

Also… I never made it to any social functions!  Thanks baby!  #sarcasm

Process Mapping Workshop Reflections (slides // handout)

Um, okay – this was the most fun thing ever.  Yes, I mean it.  A Process Mapping Workshop.  Most fun thing.  One attendee said it was “super interesting” and “high-energy.”  Hurray!  Okay but enough about that – here’s what we did and how it went.

A process map is a tool that lets you quickly and fairly easily (if done well) visualize the steps, tasks, decisions and actors involved in some process.  It’s also a great tool that enables organizational assessment (as my co-presenter Megan Hartline and I argue here).  But, it’s not the final map itself that creates a culture of assessment but rather the process of process mapping.  Bear with me here.

Creating a process map is hard work and can be fraught with tension.  Oh, I’m sure there are processes that are a breeze to map and everyone is clear, on the same page, and all can easily identify where breakdowns are occurring and how to solve them without anyone’s feelings getting hurt – but those are processes that don’t really need some extra TLC to improve.  The work of process mapping involves getting the right stakeholders together at critical moments to think about the work that is done when/how/by whom and to have conversations about what that looks like right now.  Once those conversations begin to happen, everyone starts to see the work they’re doing with an assessment hat on.  It’s neat.  But these conversations are tricky to lead and take some practice.  So Megan and I submitted this workshop proposal* wherein we would tell our attendees about process mapping and what it’s good for and then give them lots and lots of guided practice in actually doing it.

Ah it was so great.  People really got into it – and they realized many of the lessons we were trying to impart:  that this is difficult but worthwhile, that it can take quite a while, that a facilitator is useful, that the act of generating the map is more important than the final map, and that managing scope is critical to success.  We got some great feedback afterwards – and I’m hoping people will be writing us with magical success stories of their own mapping endeavors soon.  (I can hope, right?)

Whew.  The end.

 

* As an aside, we finished the proposal the very evening I went into labor.  I’ll kind of always associate process mapping with the birth of my first child.  Weird, right?

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Michigan Library Association – Academic Libraries Conference 2014 #MLA14AL

Oh hello!  It’s been a little while (a regretfully long while) and I just thought it might be a nice time to post about my experiences working on the Michigan Library Association’s Academic Libraries Conference planning committee.  (I wrote about this a bit right after our initial Leadership Day meeting here).

Interested in Presenting?

Before I get into my reflections on being part of the planning committee, I wanted to let you all know, dear readers, that if you’d like to present a one hour program or a poster you should fill out our call for proposals:  session and/or poster.

  • Program or session proposals are due December 9, 2013 (note this deadline was extended by a week).
  • Poster proposals are due February 14, 2014.

The conference is May 29-30, 2014 in the Kellogg Center at Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI.  There will be two AWESOME keynotes:  one by Kathleen Fitzpatrick and one by Lisa Spiro.

You do not have to be a Michigan Library Association member to submit proposals.  If you are accepted and you decide to come to the conference, you’ll pay a non-member rate; OR you can just come for your session for free and not stay for the whole conference.  Furthermore, you do not have to have the title of librarian to submit proposals.  All are welcome to submit!

Just a little note:  we are considering doing a new thing this year!  We may pick a few posters and programs that have been accepted to be part of an “Ignite” session during the pre-conference reception on Wednesday.  If there is not enough interest among targeted presenters, we won’t do it – but if people are interested, we think it could be an interesting way to draw traffic to their posters or sessions throughout the conference.  We’ll see!  Have you gone to any Ignite sessions at library conferences?  If so, what did you think?  We’ve heard some feedback and are aware of some pitfalls, but feel free to comment with some tips or other thoughts!

Reflecting on Conference Planning

Where programming committee members come from.

Programming Subcommittee Membership

I’ve found being a part of this planning committee to be a nice opportunity for connection with librarians across Michigan.  I have the most interaction with folks on my subcommittee, the “programming” subcommittee, which is comprised of people from UM Dearborn, Davenport University, Delta College, and Northern Michigan University.  But there are even more colleges and universities represented across the whole committee (the two other subcommittees focus on marketing and special events for the conference).  So, I have found a lot of value being on this committee in the exposure to people from other places within Michigan.

We “meet” regularly via phone conferences, and for the most part I think we’ve been highly efficient and effective as a committee working in this way.  We have calls with the whole group roughly monthly, and the subcommittees each have phone conferences as needed.  The programming subcommittee’s work is front-loaded: our charge is to organize the call for proposals for posters and talks, to solicit and oversee the jurors who will select posters and talks, and to arrange the final conference schedule (for general programming not for special events).  Once this is arranged, our work will taper off, and I think marketing’s will skyrocket.  I’ve found it nice to contribute to my committee by being the “Google form guru.”  I created the calls for posters and proposals (an improvement over last year’s survey monkey forms).  It’s nice to have a concrete, discrete, and critical set of tasks to accomplish – I really feel like I’m contributing in a valuable way.

In the larger committee as a whole, we’ve been having an interesting discussion over the past few weeks around conference deadlines.  I think it’s fairly common for conferences to extend their deadlines on proposal submissions (for talks mostly).  It seems as though the Michigan Library Association wants to move away from this perception of an automatic deadline extention.  I don’t have a strong opinion either way honestly.  I think on the one hand, if one is in the practice of not extending the deadline, you can more easily handle some aspects of planning and advertising.  But, if extending the deadline gives a conference two chances to reach a target audience of potential submitters, and a greater diversity of submissions flow in because of the extension, then it seems worth the small hassle of extending by a week or so.

We did extend our deadline by a week this time, but I think that was partly due to our talk proposal deadline being the Monday after Thanksgiving… Next year we will plan that deadline more thoughtfully!

So, what do you think?   Do you think state (or other small) library associations are too much in the habit of regularly extending submission deadlines?  Is this an effective strategy or a signal that communication efforts in advance of the deadline are failing?

Feeling jazzed about #MLA14AL

Today I went to the Michigan Library Association (they’re getting a new website soon I swear!) planning meeting.  It’s my first foray into conference planning beyond my home institution, and I was very pleased with the day overall.  I met quite a few people from all over Michigan in both public and academic libraries.  It was wonderful to meet a few people from Grand Valley State University – I always notice them publishing in places like College & Research Library News.  Seems like a productive group and after today, I can say they are incredibly nice as well.  🙂  Plus, I befriended a librarian from the UP… can’t beat that!

What conference am I planning, you might ask?  I am helping with the MLA’s Academic Libraries conference May 29-30 in 2014.  Our workgroup is incredibly energetic, experienced and raring to go.  We mapped out our program goals and specific outcomes this afternoon and will be dividing into sub-groups over the next few days to map out our programming, special events and marketing campaign. I think I’m going to be involved mostly on the programming side.  How exciting!

I found connecting with MLA much more accessible (both geographically, economically and organizationally) than the behemoth that is ALA.  Ultimately, I do have aspirations to get involved in a national context, but as an early career librarian, I found that just after one day, MLA is a good fit for me.  I can dive right in, offer suggestions and feedback, sign up to plan and execute tasks, and feel generally needed.  I think gaining some experience in this state level organization will give me more confidence if I ever dabble in national-level work groups.

So, get excited for my updates on the #MLA14AL (Michigan Library Association’s 2014 Academic Libraries Conference) in the coming months!

CHI 2013 – Best Paper Honorable Mention!

Well – what a fun experience working for Steve Jackson is.  He is great.  A wonderful mentor, a truly clever researcher and all around nice guy.  Since January 2010, I have been a research assistant for him on a grant (as part of an NSF “CAREER” award) to study patterns of collaboration and governance of large ecological projects and programs.  There’s a lot to that, and we’ve collected a ton of data through dozens of interviews and site visits.  From this really rich data set, we’ve started to pull together a few papers on a variety of fairly different topics.

Happy news on that front:  we submitted a paper to the annual CHI conference this year and it was accepted!  Hooray!  Not only that, but look:   

CHI 2013 Best of CHI ListSee that little award medal on the right side?  Yeah that means we’re on this list of “Best of CHI” for which we earned an honorable mention.  Wahoo!

The conference is in late April (in PARIS! – I have demanded Steve bring back some chocolate… that’s okay right?), so I’ll post an update when the article is available on the ACM database (sorry, it’s behind a paywall; my one huge regret about this that it’s not OA).

Now that I’m working full time for the UM Library, I only have time to devote a few hours weekly on the weekends to this – but it is still completely worth it!  I have found the paper writing process (really, more than just the writing but all aspects of data analysis, analysis of emerging themes, writing, the dreaded formatting, etc.) all fairly overwhelming, but quite interesting too.  I think if I help him eek out a few more papers, I’ll be fairly comfortable and confident leading such a project in the future.  I’ve already started to map out a paper (or poster or something) about some library work I do, so perhaps I’ll use this blog in the future to explore that a bit further.

Understanding Badging

So, a few weeks ago I attended QuasiCon 2013.  I blogged about the experience here.  Recently, conference organizers asked me to reflect on the experience I had with badging at the conference (something they were testing out).  Since I wrote them a (seriously too long) email musing about the topic, I thought I’d be generous and share my thoughts with you all, dear readers.  I’d be curious to hear about your experiences with, sentiments towards, and questions about badges if any.  Have any of you been awarded a badge for something?  For what and what did you do with it?  If not, what should I do with the several badges I earned at QuasiCon?

So.  Onward!  I really love the idea of adding badging to quasi-con.  QuasiCon is cool because not only do current students and recent grads get a chance to schmooze and talk about libraries, but they also get a chance to experience a new kind of conference that they might not experience otherwise.  This will help them feel comfortable in the future delving in and really participating in any un-conferences they may find themselves attending.  I know that for me, that aspect of quasi-con comprises a lot of the value of attending.  That’s why I really got into tweeting this time around too.  I felt like it was an un-intimidating venue to tweet a conference.  And I got practice learning to listen and tweet relevant things at the same time – no easy task I tell you.  This is good!  So this brings me to badges – by doing a badging system, everyone participating sort of gets to test out in what ways badges are cool and enrich the quasi-con experience as well as the ways in which they are odd or don’t quite work.

There were two kinds of badges at QuasiCon:  badges to earn whilst attending the conference itself, and then badges to earn later.  Someone zipped through what badges there were and I remember trying to tweet them to get them out to people.  Then I realized that they were posted on a website.  But I still think tweeting them was useful – it meant my list was archived in a place I could get to them (I kept not remembering what website to go to to find out more about the badges).

So, I hadn’t ever earned a badge for something before, and thus, I admit, I wasn’t sure how I was going to even know I earned a badge, how I would actually retrieve said badge, where I’d put it and finally what I’d actually do with it.  To be honest, I still don’t really know the answers to these questions.  I tweeted up a storm and then realized to get a higher level badge for social media use at the conference I’d need to post on two networks.  So, I went over to Facebook to post something about QuasiCon.  (Apparently, badging works!  It incentivized my publicizing the conference on a platform I otherwise wouldn’t have posted to… just to get that higher level social media badge).

But, how was anyone who awarded the badges to know I did that?

Turns out, you had to submit evidence that you should be awarded a badge.  This makes Mega Social Mediatortotal sense, and of course I just didn’t really read the instructions well enough to realize this at the time.  Luckily, I have since submitted links to some tweets & my Facebook post, so I earned the “Mega Social Mediator” badge (I feel like I should print it, frame it and stick it on my fridge!).  For my previous blog post, I got a “Blog Ambassador” badge.  I’m swimming in badges!

But seriously now, tell me, how does one use a badge?

Now, I know in the material world Blog Ambassador(And aren’t we all living in a material world?  And aren’t we all material girls inside?), if I got a badge for doing a good deed, I could sew it or iron it onto my Girl Scout sash.  But this e-badge… it is a small mystery to me.  It certainly incentivized my participation at the conference – and perhaps this alone is valuable.  But am I missing something?  Should I be concerned if I was so motivated to get an award that I don’t know what to do with?  What does that say about our education system in this country?!  What does that say about ME?!

I’m still intrigued by badging.  The University of Michigan is using badging to help keep staff members motivated to exercise this semester through a program called “MHealthy.”  I must admit, these are absolutely helping me reserve time each week to work out.  So, while I’m a little skeptical about what this all implies about what motivates me, I’m happy that in both cases a badging system has pushed me to engage more and do more.

The always thought-provoking and inspiring Cathy Davidson wrote an excellent piece on badging that you should certainly read if you’ve made it this far.   I really like how she’s laid out what the important features are around badging and why they work.  I’ll leave you with a short quote from her then:

The badge has to not just credentialize or certify learning but should also motivate it. By organizing a set of skills and interests…into an actual, definable, measurable skill capable of assessment and judgment, badges inspire students to greater mastery. A hobby becomes definable as an intellectual, creative asset, something to be tended, improved, honed, perfected, advanced, and innovated. As with a game challenge, attainment becomes the floor not the end point, it becomes a step on a way towards even greater mastery. The badge inspires a certain form of learning by naming it and honoring it.

I think she’s right:  badges become the floor not the end point.  I like that.  And I think it helps me redirect how I’ve been thinking about badging.  Instead of asking “what can I do with this award I just got?”  I can just acknowledge that the badge wasn’t the goal, but rather the experience/skills/tools I gained by getting the badge was the goal.  And those will help me do X, Y, and the ever sought after Z.

What do you think?

#quasi13: A Quasi-Conference from ALA at UMich

Well, I’m going for a hat-trick of blog posts (after my hiatus, 3 in a row?!).

Today I went to Quasi-Con13, the second annual quasi-conference put on by the ALA group at the University of Michigan.  Just as last year, I enjoyed myself immensely.  The first part of the conference was an “un-conference” where topics were decided upon in the morning after some semi-structured small group conversations.  Organizers created a schedule based on these ideas and people went around to various break out rooms to discuss the topics raised in the morning.  Each room had two facilitators to help things move along.  They were great.  Thank you facilitators!

The morning discussions were fascinating!  I went to three:

  • tensions between academic librarians & faculty – expectations around the role of librarians
  • libraries & librarians in fiction – how are we portrayed? what would be better?
  • collaboration & competition in GLAMs (galleries, libraries, archives & museums)

What wonderful discussions.  I’ll just pull out some of the things I heard from the libraries & librarians in fiction talk which surprised me (in that, I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I think some interesting things came out of it).  Sure, there was some funny reminiscing of librarians being portrayed in TV shows (Seinfeld, Buffy, etc.) but things got substantive too.  I have been mulling over a set of questions that emerged from the session:

If you could insert a librarian into a show, how would they be portrayed? What would they do? Who would they be? What would be the plot?

I like this.  It would be awful to have some sort of “Big Bang Theory” effect happen – a show which reinforced negative or totally unhelpful stereotypes. But how do we make the work of information professionals interesting to a broader audience?  Infiltrate Antiques Roadshow?  Place a librarian on NCIS or CSI?  Is there a way to do that and portray them realistically?  What role in the library (outreach manager? director?) would even be able to make this happen?  Who reaches out to Hollywood?  Ah, so many questions, so few answers.

We briefly touched on Star Trek (by the way, here is a great article reflecting on Star Trek that you should read if you liked that show).  On that show, the computer is the library / librarian and all the cast members are totally information literate, i.e. know what to ask to get the information they sought.  So, is that just a Utopian version of the library and world of information literacy?

[photo coming soon]

In the afternoon, there were structured talks. I went to three of these as well:

  • Detroit & using archives to confront stereotypes & misrepresentation
  • The use of memes and web 2.0 for library marketing
  • Participatory learning: library-based makerspaces

I enjoyed the participatory learning session quite a bit as I’ve been thinking about “learning by making/doing/building/creating” a lot.  It was lovely to hear the stories from local endeavors – places in Ann Arbor, at the AADL, and at UM.  I think by the end of the day, people were a bit weary and petering out, but this was a very nice set of sessions.

[photo coming soon]

Some reflections on the day / experience:

  • I tweeted.  A lot.  This was the first conference I was consistently tweeting.  It was nice and not overwhelming (like the ESA 2012 and LTER ASM 2012 conferences were).  The audience were people I felt comfortable tweeting to, and it turned into good practice: turns out it’s hard to tweet and pay attention at the same time.  You can find my and other peoples’ tweets at #quasi13
  • In discussions and in talks, if people said snappy, short tweetable statements, turns out, those are easier to broadcast.  Makes me rethink the kinds of things I would say in a presentation to this kind of audience.  I’m sure politicians are way ahead of me on this one, but even at a conference comprised mostly of students, it’s still good to think about (will this be reverberated on social media?  If so, make some concise sound bytes, and perhaps even reference them – “you can tweet that”).
  • Organizers played around with badges this year.  I liked that.  The first half of the conference people were able to nominate others for badges (list of them here) and in the second half, I think people can just get badges for things like… blog posts and further reflections on the events of the day.  To be honest, the badges thing this year kind of confused me.  I like that it was something that was also going on, but I don’t quite understand how they got awarded and how one knows one got a badge.  I guess I’ll hear more later about that.  Having badges be dangled in front of me like a carrot did spur me to tweet copiously.  So that’s nice.  If I get a badge, don’t worry, I’ll post about it here 🙂
  • It was really nice to see some SI alumni come back for this.  I’m glad about that.
  • This kind of conference is a great opportunity for students to test out talking about their ideas and get a practice run at other kinds of conferences that might be more intimidating.  I’m really glad about that too.
  • Finally, the facilitators & organizers did a great job.  A+.

Tweeting Conferences

Tweeting conferences is quite a thing.  One blogger exhaustively breaks down just how to do it well.  After attending two conferences this summer, I can now reflect on the use of Twitter at each.  At ESA 2012, a conference of several thousand ecologists, there were quite a few active tweeters.  Just take a peak at the hashtags “#esasocial” or “esa2012.”

Twitter Fail

Hope the LOC is having success with their whole archiving Twitter project…

Just kidding!  Darn!  I tried to go back to find a tweet that had a link to an infographic compiling all the tweets, but alas and alack, I couldn’t access old tweets.  More on this in a moment.

At the second conference I went to, attended by a few hundred ecologists, tweeters were very few and very far between.  While I did tweet a few things at ESA, I did not tweet at the second conference in part because the silence in the twitterverse for #lterasm was intimidating and in part because I was there to observe the ecologists and not really be a communicator of what I was experiencing.

It is curious to me that among seemingly similar groups of people (ecologists!) there can be such a difference on Twitter.  There are probably a few reasons for this.  One is that there was a workshop early on at ESA on social media and people were actively encouraged to tweet the sessions (and it was explained what that even meant), while there was no such emphasis at the LTER conference.

But a second reason could tie in most wonderfully with something I actually learned via my Model Thinking coursera course!  Ah worlds connecting!  How I love that!  So, one of the models our instructor incorporated into this curriculum is called “the standing ovation” model.  So, people have different thresholds of needs for standing after a performance which depend on the quality of the show and the number of other people they see standing… it occurs to me the same processes could have been at work on Twitter.  I saw many many tweeters, and they made the atmosphere a more welcoming one for me.  But also, I went to some really great sessions that made me want to communicate that out to the wider twitterverse.

For me though, I find live-tweeting conferences ultimately hugely distracting.  How  can I pay attention or take notes (though, maybe tweeting is taking notes?  … not the kind of notes I take, I assure you) while tweeting AND paying attention to other tweeters?  I definitely see the value, but it is hard for me to juggle the information coming and going and being produced.  Maybe this all comes with practice though!