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Ideas for SAA2007: Web Awards, Wikis and Blogs

Online since late March of this year, the new ArchivesNext blog is wasting no time in generating great ideas. First of all – I love the idea of awards for the best archives websites. How about ‘Best Archives Blog’, ‘Best Online Exhibit’ and ‘Best Archives Website’? It seems like barely a week goes by on the Archives and Archivists’ listserv between each announcement of a new archives website or online exhibition. I think an entire blog could be created just showing off the best of archives websites. I would love to see those making the greatest online contributions to the profession honored at the annual conference.

Another great ArchivesNext idea is a wiki for SAA2007 in Chicago. I was amazed at the conference last summer to see the table where you could buy audio recordings of the presentations. I live so much in the tech/geek world that I had assumed that of course SAA would have someone recording the sessions so they could be posted online. I assumed that there would be a handy place for presenters to upload their handouts and slides. A wiki would be a great way to support this sort of knowledge sharing. People come from all over the world for just a few days together at conferences like this. Many more can’t make the trip. I think it would go a long way to build more of an online archival community to have something beyond a listserv that let groups of like minded individuals build a collection of resources surrounding the topics discussed at the conference.

What about blogging the conference? Last year suggested we all use SAA2006 to tag our conference blog posts. Technorati shows 25 posts with that tag (and yes, a lot of those posts are mine). One major stumbling block was a lack of wireless in the hotel where the convention was held. Another was a combination of lack of interest and lack of coordination. Too few people were mobilized in time to plan coverage of the panels.

We could leverage a conference wiki to coordinate more effectively than we did last year. Simple signup sheets could help us ensure coverage of the panels and roundtables. I think it would be interesting to see if those who cannot attend the conference might express preferences about which talks should definitely be covered. If there are wiki pages for each panel and roundtable, those pages could eventually include links to the blog posts of bloggers covering those talks.

Blogging last August at SAA2006 was interesting for me. I had never attempted to blog at a conference (Spellboundblog was less than 1 month old last August). I took 37 pages of notes on my laptop. Yes, there was a lot of white space – but it was still 37 pages long. I found that I couldn’t bring myself to post in the informal ‘stream of consciousness style that I have often seen in ‘live blogging’ posts. I wanted to include links. I wanted to include my thoughts about each speaker I listened to. I wanted to draw connections among all the different panels I attended. I wanted someone who hadn’t been there to be able to really understand the ideas presented from reading my posts. That took time. I ended up with 10 posts about specific panels and round tables and another 2 about general conference ideas and impressions. Then I gave up. I got to the point where I felt burdened by the pages I had not transcribed. I had gotten far enough away from the conference that I didn’t always understand my own notes. I had new things I wanted to talk about, so I set aside my notes and moved on.

I hope we get more folks interested in blogging the conference this year. Feel free to email me directly at jeanne AT if you would like to be kept in the loop for any blogging coordination (though I will certainly post whatever final plan we come up with here).

Posted in archival community, blogs, outreach, SAA2007


  1. ArchivesNext

    Wow–glad you like the ideas! And, funny you should mention it, I am actually working on another site that is entirely devoted to reviewing and linking to archives’ websites. That should be rolling out in the next couple weeks.

    Regarding wireless connections–I just called the hotel in Chicago and they do have wireless in all the public spaces, but not in the meeting rooms per se. (They said sometimes you can pick up a signal, but don’t count on it.) And there are public spaces on each level where we will be using meeting rooms.

  2. Mimi

    Yes! Let’s do this!

    But you know what I really wish and hope for? Better transparency at regional archives conferences. Because word gets around pretty quickly about stuff that is presented at SAA, but less gets in or out from regional organizations (unless you pay the membership fee and get a newsletter, like a lot of archivists do), which is too bad, because regional conferences are a lot more accessible than SAA for a number of reasons. So I’m hoping that better blog/wiki/social web discussion for SAA can show the way to other communities.

  3. Jeanne

    Interesting. I need to think some more about what I think the perfect answer would be. I would like to imagine a central ‘Archives Conference’ collaboration site for use by SAA and the regional groups – something where everything people add during the course of a conference lives beyond that conference and is in an easy central place for people to find and learn from. I am honestly not sure that a wiki would be the BEST answer for that… but I will look around and post when I find some options I like.

  4. Tiah

    Blogging from SAA2007 is a great idea, and I think one that allows those who cannot afford the travel to have a richer vicarious experience. I know travel reports are good, but are often written after one recovers– and presumably loses a bit of the buzz of the conferece. Problems: wireless at the conferece? laptops at the conferece?

  5. ArchivesNext

    Hi Mimi –

    So, you’d like info on regional meetings? I know at least 2, possibly 3 other bloggers, as well as other potential writers who will be at the MARAC meeting in Scranton in a couple of weeks. Maybe we can get something organized for that.

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