Code4lib 2010: Southern Hospitality
I recently returned from a trip to Asheville, North Carolina for this year's Code4lib conference. Despite the unavoidable hiccups that some attendees experienced as they tried to head home from the conference, I believe that this year's conference was the most successful one that I happened to attend. If I'm right, I think this year had a record number of attendees, a record number of new attendees, and much tighter organization to make the new folks feel welcome.
The social activities were certainly more planned and organized than last year, which was a welcome change. While I certainly didn't mind hollering out to the crowd that I would be going to see some bands or to a particular restaurant like I had in previous years, it was nice to see other folks take the lead. The newcomer dinners seemed to go pretty well; the brews cruise and barbecue excursions went smoothly; and even the game(s) of Werewolf seemed to take a life of their own.
What of the program? Well, again, I was extremely happy with the way it turned out, personally. I spent the morning of the Monday preconference in the Solr blackbelt session led by Erik Hatcher from Lucid Imagination and Naomi Dushay from Stanford. During that afternoon, I helped out Dan Chudnov by bumbling through a demo of pymarc. The keynotes of both Cathy Marshall and Paul Jones were both delightfully thought provoking and whimsical.
In all, the sessions were pretty fantastic, but the following stuck out for me:
- Ross Singer - The Linked Library Data Cloud: Stop Thinking and Start Doing. Ross consistently has practical approaches to Linked Data, and this talk was no exception.
- Ryan Scherle and Jose Aguera - HIVE: A New Tool for Working With Vocabularies. While HIVE's implementation thus far seems pretty domain specific, it's clearly pretty extensible to any vocabulary with a seemingly minor amount of tweaking.
- Bess Sadler - Vampires vs. Werewolves: Ending the War Between Developers and Sysadmins with Puppet. Bess proves that dealing with sysadmins is more an issue of trust than anything else, and makes us all chuckle during the process.
- Chris Beer - Media, Blacklight, and Viewers Like You. Chris and WGBH Interactive have been doing some pretty consistently amazing work with Fedora, and now they've invested in working on Blacklight to help provide access to their massive collections of digital video.
- Ian Walls - Becoming Truly Innovative: Migrating from Millennium to Koha. While I no longer work for an III institution, Ian's struck a chord with those of us who have had to cope with the vagaries of Millennium. His talk was pretty damn funny, too.
- Naomi Dushay and Jessie Keck - A Better Advanced Search. Naomi and Jessie help unpack what we (i.e. library-types) think of as advanced search vs. what our users think it is, and then go into some fantastically gory detail about what you can do to and with Solr to make it possible.
Finally, I believe that the Ask Anything session deserves its own treatment. The idea was to ask a roomful of people for help, advice, references, etc. on anything, and I think it largely worked. This session itself proved the vibrancy and strength of Code4lib: largely unstructured, highly social, and focused on mutual aid. I will spare you any comparisons to Rainbow Gatherings, but I'll say this much: I'm proud to be part of Code4lib, and I'd like to welcome you to next year's.
Totally agree, Mark. I think this conference was the best yet. Dare I hope that it has merely raised a bar that we will continue raising?