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Annual ASIS&T meeting 2011 in New Orleans

Written by Laura Schumann and Jens Terliesner, students of information science and language technology at the Heinrich-Heine University in Düsseldorf (Germany)

The annual ASIS&T meeting 2011 was held in October in New Orleans (Louisiana). The meeting subtitled with the slogan ‘Bridging the Gulf: Communication and Information in Society, Technology, and Work’ was our first ASIS&T meeting we attended and as well our first contact with ASIS&T. We expected to meet many people from different places in the world to exchange opinions and expand our know-how in information science.
The meeting was opened by Tom Wilson (University of Sheffield) who held the keynote concerned with the central question: ‘Preservation: the Final Frontier?’. He explained the difficulties of preserving information caused by many problems like changes of favored file types and changing storage devices.
Even though we couldn’t imagine why ornithology is related to information science, the second keynote by Steve Kelling (Cornell University) convinced us of the contrary.
He talked about applied citizen science in the area of ornithology (‘How to Identify Ducks in Flight: A Crowdsourcing Approach to Biodiversity Research and Conservation’). Kelling collects information generated by scientists and non-scientists to evaluate the worldwide movement of birds. Kellings speech showed that information science can be applied in different research areas and that it is not restricted to specific subjects.

The agenda of the meeting consisted of panels and paper presentations divided into the tracks ‘Information Behavior’, ‘Knowledge Organization’, ‘Interactive Information & Design’, ‘Information and Knowledge Management’, ‘Information Use’ and ‘Economic, Social and Policy Issues’. Especially the topics ‘Knowledge Organization’, ‘Information and Knowledge Management’ and ‘Information Use’ offered many presentations that were closely related to our academic studies and showed us new and interesting facets of these areas. The high number of panels encouraged communication and exchange of expert information and revealed different attitudes considering the subject.
A poster session with more than 90 posters showed the large variety of actual research interests and applied information science. Since we presented our own poster at the session, we were able to exchange and discuss our ideas mostly with interested experts of non-related topics but also with specialists of the same research area.

The meeting ended with multiple workshops and seminars to improve the abilities and knowledge in newsworthy topics. Many social activities like a student design competition, various receptions and several chapter meetings completed the annual meeting. Especially the ‘New Members and First Conference Brunch’ was a great first impression of the annual meeting for us. It gave us the assurance that new members are very welcome in the ASIS&T.

After attending a few conferences and meetings before, the ASIS&T annual meeting 2011 was our first non-European meeting. In contrast to the behavior of the attendees of European conferences, the American mentality made it easier to get to know other scientists with the same interests. Thereby we got the chance to learn a lot about research projects and different approaches to face research questions.
Besides that, the city of New Orleans was a good choice to arrange the conference because New Orleans offers a large cultural diversity.
All in all, our expectations have been more than met and we are looking forward to the 75th annual meeting in the end of October 2012 in Baltimore and hope to attend our second annual meeting of ASIS&T.

Impressions of the ASIS&T International Reception. From left: Ulrich Tibaut Houzanme (Indiana University Bloomington), Tamara Heck, Jens Terliesner, Wolf G. Stock, Isabella Peters, and Laura Schumann (all from Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf).