The conference was a great event over 6 days, depending on when you started. For me the official kick off was the iSchool party at the Cedar Door where our tab had to be upped several times to handle the thirsty hordes. I had dinner later with our first keynote, Laszlo Barabasi, who is a delightfully engaging guest and speaker. His keynote address was fast paced and pointed to the insights to be gained in viewing human activities on the web as scale-free networks incorporating bursts of activity. He argued that 10% of most networks provide the key to holding the network together and that fitness attracts a disproportionately large number of links from other sites. Of course, the mystery of what makes a site or a linked node super-fit remains something to be discovered (and sold, I suppose). You can find out more about the man and his work here: http://www.nd.edu/~alb/
Attendance was up and most people seemed genuinely happy with the program and the location – Austin makes for a great conference venue though I needed to work on people to move them beyond the dubious delights of 6th St when seeking entertainment. Several sessions just would not end — a well attended set of presentations on blogs ran 30 minutes over (it was lunchtime) as people just would not stop asking questions of the various presenters. And it was not just new areas that caught the buzz. The panel on historiography was equally in demand even on the last day! I make a point in my program notes that ASIST is one conference where the old and the new mix easily, and it is this type of perspective-mix that keeps me at ASIST year after year. It was also good to see so many PhD students and younger members – ASIST seems to have lost many of the younger set in recent years to the equally-large IA Summits but when President Mike Leach asked at the outset how many people were attending ASIST for the first time, it was good to see so many hands go up.
Peparing a conference program is a long process and I am glad it’s over. I had superb assistance from Dick Hill at ASIST and three executive program committee members (France Bouthillier, Javed Mostafa and Carole Palmer) but it remained a long slog which I am glad to hand over to next year’s committee (see the call for papers: http://www.asis.org/Conferences/AM07/am07cfp.html). While the society is good about awards events for various members, I think the program committee each year deserves a little more than a piece of paper commemorating their efforts and handed out in a rush at the poorly-attended business meeting. But this is a minor issue – the conference is its own reward, right? I’ll just not be rushing to serve on future program committees.
It was good to see so many faces there, and to talk to several readers of the blog – hello!! More later when I get a chance to think about it all.