Today was my first full day at the SLA annual conference in Baltimore, MD. Aside from sharing an umbrella with the president-elect, and having lunch with a colleague from the library, I attended two courses that I'd like to write about while they're still fresh in my mind.
1) At-Risk: Capturing and Preserving Web Resources, presented by Cathy Hartman - This program addressed the issue of finding a way to catalogue and keep record of old webpages. The main problem is the horrid lack of standards; the W3C has recommendations for what should be on all websites, but these recommendations are not followed with any consistancy. Archive.org has caught many terabytes of information, but has no indexing system. What we need, the speaker said, was more funding from organizations to preserve web resources, and more people who can communicate between Librarians and IT people. The presentation was peppered with library "Bushisms", which were interesting, but didn't add serious content.
2) SLA Tech Zone: Macromedia Flash Integration - Scalable, Portable and Memorable, presented by Thomas Dopko. I really enjoyed this course; Tom started out with the reasons why Flash has value in a library setting. Many people assume that since its 'flashy' and so often used for funny animations, that it has no serious applications. This is untrue. Flash is simple a programming language for content that happens to lend itself well to visuals. It can be used just as effectively, if not moreso, than Powerpoint, and is far more memorable. It can also be read by any browser with the necessary plug-in; not so with Powerpoint. Unfortunately, Flash animations are more difficult to create than Powerpoints, and the software is pretty pricey. For a large organization that can afford a Flash expert, though, it is very practical to integrate.
We also had a chance to play around with Macromedia Flash 8 a bit, putting together a simple animation from some pre-created parts. I wish we'd had more time to work on it, but I'll see Tom again for the Wireframing course, and I can download Flash for 30 days from Adobe. That should be long enough to get some decent graphics put together for my site.
I left the conference very excited and pleased. I look forward to tomorrows courses!