LSW goes public

Michael Sauers has chosen the Haiku Bio approach, which is actually really cool. While the LSW people are talking, the LSW chat room is running on the projectors, and the room is contributing to the presentation. Asking questions, making jokes, providing backchannel contributions. Aaaaaand…. Griffey just rickrolled the meebo room. Except the moderator is wisely denying the audio.

LSW: “The ALA without the bureaucracy, the ALA without the money, make up your own title.” Conveniently, the creation of the LSW coincided with the creation of Meebo Rooms. Steve Lawson says that this kind of communication is important because conferences are a combination of creating new knowledge for the profession and meeting people — and the LSW is like being at a conference every day, meeting people, talking about issues, sharing ideas with people around the country. Membership is defined by showing up, so it’s a very diverse group, scattered all over the country and beyond. Rikhei Harris says that it’s the combination of personal and professional that make the LSW work for her — you can get feedback on reference questions, professional problems, and what to do for the wicked headache you have right now. The LSW also provides a guaranteed feedback loop — there are so many people online at any given time that you’re nearly guaranteed to have an audience if you have an information need.

Why has the LSW been successful? (The attempts to RickRoll have succeeded — Sauers is scrambling to figure out how to turn it off.) Because of low expectations — who thought it’d be this fun, or useful? And, just like an unconference, whoever shows up is the right group. So whoever wants it? They’re the right people to have there.

So, given the chaos that’s ensuing in the meebo room right now as they talk, and the club-ish-ness of the backchannel convo, is this just another “cool” club I’m not a part of? NO. If you want to talk to people, about librarianship and other stuff, in a free and informal way, the LSW is for YOU. The LSW promises different things than other organizations: They propose to provide a place for conversation “without making you go to Anaheim”, where you will have a chance to talk to real library professionals about whatever is on your mind. According to Josh Neff, “The immediacy of real people doing real things” and talking about it in the LSW room keeps people coming back.

(…and my wireless bombs out. Welcome to CiL! Though, to give InfoToday the credit they deserve, things have been much better this year — power strips by the comfy chairs, a bloggers’ table with power strips at the front of rooms, better wireless. Except right now.)

Could the LSW hit critical mass and therefore fail? As in, now that there are all these new people who’ve been exposed to the hilarity, if we all log in, will it kill it? Possibly. If there are too many people in a chat room, the only ones who stay are the ones who can handle the stream of conversation at that volume. Or, it’ll just be like the rest of the internet — if it hits a point where it gets unwieldy, it’ll fracture into other groups to serve similar purposes — and that’s not a bad thing.

Someone raised the idea that if you’re in a chat room with nicknames, you’re not meeting the “real people”. (And therefore Griffey is a cylon.) Those of us, including the panel, don’t see it that way. “Meeting” people has less to do with physical presence than conversation and connection. The three presenters, for example, met last night in person for the first time.


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