Collaborating, Hearing Voices, and Participating from Afar

Memorial Day Weekend was very soggy in Texas. Fortunately for me, most of my planned activities translated well to the covered porch at the family lakehouse. I was not able to get sunburned or swim, but that can be savored another time.

Last week, after completing my third meeting over chat, I came to the conclusion that I like collaborating online better then I do face to face in most instances. I have yet, in my career (a short but busy career so far), to present or collaborate on a major project with someone in my same library or in my same town. I would much rather have a meeting over IM then a conference call on the phone. I do like to talk on the phone, but for business, I prefer IM. I think the transcripts are what attract me to IM. However, I know it exposes my inability to type dreadfully. For groups, IM is still my preferred meeting style.

There are times when a voice over the phone or VoIP is a beautiful thing. I remember with clarity Jason Griffey and I testing our audio equipment for his talk on for Five Weeks to a Social Library (scroll down to Presentations). I had not seen Jason since Midwinter, a lapse of a few weeks, and hearing his voice in the OPAL room made me smile in a tooth showing I miss my friend kinda way. I had a similar experience while listening to Dave give a talk on Podcasting for ACRL.

As ALA approaches and my meeting schedule starts filling up, I am again dismayed at the number meetings for which a few emails, a blog post, and an IM chat could suffice to reduce the meeting in length or the need for it at all. It seems like we beat this poor horse every. single. year. The good news is that there are groups trying to increase the amount of online participation available to members. One of my IGs has some fun plans for Annual in this area (more coming soon), but we are no where near a critical mass for change.

If you are the chair of an ALA (or any other org for that matter) committee or interest group, what is your committee doing to decrease reporting time during meetings or conduct business online? If you have only considered making changes to your group’s workflow, make a change today. Do something different.

In BIGWIG, the Blog and Wiki IG in LITA which runs the Lita Blog, we conduct almost all of our business and planning on wikis, on blogs, and over chat. Our meetings are more for idea generating then anything else and we have beignets. I was on an ACRL committee, which I will officially be off as of this June, and I am leaving because the entire work of the committee could be done by creating a collaborative wiki.

Again, I ask: If you are the chair or member of an ALA committee how can/could you do your committee’s work differently?

–Jane, wants to build a better ALA