Search Engine Visits to Bayside Blog

With a tip of the hat to Amy Coffin at the We Tree blog, I decided to post about some recent search engine terms that landed folks at my blog:

grave tombstone: Welcome to my plethora of Tombstone Tuesday posts — a favorite among some of my readers. Well, one that I know of for sure.

maryland eastern shore fences: I’m guessing you didn’t find what you needed at my blog, but best of luck to you!

1930 physicians documents: this probably brought up results about my father and grandfather, both of whom were physicians in Washington, D.C.

marathon scrapbook layouts: you probably were looking for scrapbooking layouts related to running (sorry, nothing-doing here), but instead came across my posts about scrapbooking marathons. Whole different animal.

rootsmagic organization: this led you to my post about getting RootsMagic to work on a Mac. Probably not exactly what you needed, but I hope it helps someone someday.

mr corley blog: Welcome to my blog, which features lots of Mr., Mrs., and Miss Corleys. If you’re kin, drop me a line!

survey results conference: you arrived at my blog thanks to the survey I did recently on conference materials and their organization.

creative memories mini everyday display: here you go!

Conference Materials Survey: Wrap-Up

This is the final post in a series about a survey I did to see how conference attendees organize the information and materials they bring home with them. Please be sure to read the previous posts in the series:

In this post, I will summarize the issues and ideas that jumped out at me–items for conference organizers and attendees alike to consider for future events.

Beyond the issues presented in the questions, some respondents raised points that hadn’t occurred to me, including ways to share conference information with colleagues after the fact. Respondents mentioned this as a way to make their conference attendance a worthwhile investment for their organization. Independent information professionals said that recapping what they learned was a great marketing tool to share with clients.

Challenges not specifically mentioned in my survey but brought up by the respondents touched on needing ways to follow up with the people they meet at conferences. This included both other conference attendees and speakers/presenters.

As I read through the responses, some ideas jumped out at me:

  • I would love to see a conference- or topic-specific filing system that could be organized along the way and dropped into a file drawer once I get home.
  • On the other hand, it’s fine to organize by conference, but if you attend several a year, how do you keep track of what binder/folder to go back to. Did you hear that tidbit in 2008, 2009, or 2010? One of the conference attendees addressed this in her comments: “I currently keep most information organized by conference. I should probably refile information gathered at conferences into subject folders at home.”
  • It would be great if there were an all-in-one online system for conference organizers to post handouts, presentations, blog posts, Tweets and other social-media feeds in one spot for handy access before (possibly), during and after a conference.
  • After hearing many respondents request this, online versions of syllabi and other handouts need to be editable and designed with space in mind for note-taking.

I hope you have enjoyed following these posts. As promised to my survey respondents, I will be putting together a report that ties all of this into one document. If you are interested in receiving the final version, please drop me a line — I’d be happy to send it to you!

Conference Materials Survey: Attendee Suggestions, Part 2

I’m running a series of posts about a survey I did to see how conference attendees organize the information and materials they bring home with them. Please be sure to read the previous posts in the series:

      The final question of the survey was this: Other thoughts? Do you use systems/tools to keep yourself organized at/after a conference not already covered above? Ever been wowed by how a conference presented its materials? How did they do it?

      As with the other questions, I received loads of helpful suggestions. Here is a smattering:

      Suggestions for conference organizers:

      Several people said they appreciate it when pocket-size schedules are available.

      “I’ve been fairly under-wowed by the way conferences present their materials, in that every vendor, panel, and talk seems to have a separate set of handouts, or even a separate format. I’ve never been to a large conference that presented materials in a unified way and helped me collect them in a unified way.” — this was echoed by another respondent who said having everything organized in one binder in order of the presentations makes life easier.

      “Some very expensive conferences provide binders already set up to keep and augment materials. In the more electronic times we live in I find many speakers refer you to their websites or other places where their materials are stored. Easier to use this way IMHO.”

      “I think a good conference provides electronic access afterwards, which is particularly helpful to those who can’t attend.”

      Suggestions for attendees:

      “I carry a three-ring binder with the syllabus materials for sessions I plan to attend divided by tabs for each day of the conference. I have my conference schedule in the front of the binder, so I can see quickly where I’m supposed to go next.”

      “It’s a whole lot easier to deal with a conference if I’ve live blogged it.”

      “For some things, I actually write on it, “Why am I keeping this?,” and write out the answer.”

      “I try to create an “Action List” of things I want to try, do, research, etc., when I return. Keeping this separate from all the other conference “stuff” helps me to focus on just that. I also need to submit reports on all meetings that I attend.”

      “Ideally I would write the conference paper titles at the front of each notebook and list them in a database on computer. I do this sometimes but often I am too busy when I get home and resume work.”

      For vendors:

      “One vendor at SLA 2009 gave medium-end swag on front table, and the high-end stuff was on a back table; you would only get it if you had a conversation with them.Sometimes [a] weird or intriguing toy is good swag because it’s a conversation starter, both for me at the vendor’s booth and later when I bring the thing back to my office.”

      Current technology:

      “I do find that I’m starting to scan more things, though. I am a fan of Microsoft OneNote for keeping e-scraps (Evernote is good, too).”

      “I especially like following and following up on conferences through the extensive use of Twitter. I just attended a one-day event yesterday and found myself disappointed that they hadn’t created a Twitter handle for it.”

      “Slideshare for the PowerPoint (and with download option can often see the speakers remarks as well as the sides), Youtube if a video was made, Rww is great for tech conferences write-ups.”

      My final post in this series will sum up the results and include my observations about the trends mentioned and possible opportunities and solutions that have revealed themselves along the way. Read on here:

      Post 8 (Conclusion)

      Conference Materials Survey: Attendee Suggestions, Part 1

      I’m running a series of posts about a survey I did to see how conference attendees organize the information and materials they bring home with them. Please be sure to read the previous posts in the series:

      In this post, I’ll share some of the attendee responses to Question 8 of the survey: What would help you make better use of your conference materials when you get home? Again, I am extraordinarily grateful to the wonderful folks who responded to my survey because so many took the time to give great recommendations in answer to this question.

      Respondents clamored to have more presentations and handouts made available online after the conference (either by the speakers or the conference organizers). A couple people specifically asked to have the syllabus made available online too.

      One respondent played devil’s advocate to the above suggestions however, stating, “Saying that the notes are available online is useless – how many of us actually manage to write down the entire URL on the screen and then bother to go back and look it up?”

      In a similar vein, several other respondents said that posting materials online isn’t enough. More than one suggested assigning keywords to handouts and presentations and/or indexing them by subject and author. Another said, “I wish that the handouts/PowerPoints would be provided in a way that they could be searched by topic. Otherwise, all that great stuff just gets forgotten about because it’s not easy enough to access. It’s essential[ly] hidden unless you remember to go there.”

      This sentiment was echoed in another answer: “My real problem is that it takes me so long to categorize and file and so stuff stays in piles til I get to it – but at least I know its there along with stuff I pull out of magazines etc. I wish I had a better way to make use of the stuff!”

      One respondent suggested that more conference follow-up is needed to encourage attendees to make the best use of what they learn: “Some sort of nudging follow up from conference organizers might push me to get back to it. A follow up note like ‘Librarians Pat Smith and Jamie Brown are starting to using the tools we explored in these ways – what about you?’ might help restart the conference conversations and push me back into the immediate post-conference mentality.”

      A couple of respondents made suggestions specific to vendors. One respondent asked for more clarity in the brochures given out at conferences: “Some of them use cool graphics and vague names and descriptions: business solutions, synergizing competencies, maximizing your….we have no idea what your product does so it’s easier to toss your flyer.” Another simply asked for coupons and trial periods that start after the conference and not during.

      Many other respondents simply requested more time to be able to deal with everything they accumulate at each conference. And, of course, there can never be enough outlets or free wireless access at conferences.

      My next post will cover the responses to Question 9 of the survey: Other thoughts? Do you use systems/tools to keep yourself organized at/after a conference not already covered above? Ever been wowed by how a conference presented its materials? How did they do it? Find out at the links below:

      Conference Materials Survey: Purchasing Syllabi/Recordings

      I’m running a series of posts about a survey I did to see how conference attendees organize the information and materials they bring home with them. Please be sure to read the previous posts in the series:

      In this post, I’ll share the responses to questions about purchasing conference notes/syllabi on CD and/or thumbdrive and recordings of sessions.

      The majority of respondents (64 out of 85) said they do not purchase conference handouts on CD or thumbdrive when this option is available. Five respondents said they purchase electronic handouts in addition to picking up printed copies of these materials at the conference. Four said they purchase the materials in electronic form in lieu of printed copies. Twelve respondents said they sometimes purchase conference materials in electronic form.

      There was a smattering of comments in response to this question. Several folks said they have never had the option of purchasing such materials before. A couple respondents said they wouldn’t pay for these, but would take advantage of them if they were offered for free. One respondent said that such materials are not useful because they become separated from papers and other material due to the difference in format.

      On the question of purchasing recorded sessions after conferences, there was a similar breakdown of responses. Sixty-one respondents said they do not purchase these, three said they do and 21 said they sometimes do.

      Among the comments for this question, a couple of folks said they never re-listen to the recordings or fear that they wouldn’t take the time to do so and therefore don’t purchase them.

      Of those who do purchase session recordings, their reasons for doing so varied. One respondent does it for sessions they couldn’t attend. Another said recordings are a useful resource when you want to capture things that are hard to get down in one’s notes, like longer anecdotes. Still another respondent said she sometimes purchases sessions so she can play short segments in classes that she teaches (hopefully with the permission of the speaker/conference first).

      I found this comment to be interesting: “I’m now frequently recording and taking quick photos of various slides so that I have immediate access to the information. It continues to disappoint me that many conference keynoters do not allow formal or informal recordings.”

      I can see both sides. The speaker wants to protect their material and the listener wants to be able to retain it in the format most useful to them. For those who are auditory learners, I’m sure it’s frustrating not to have recordings to refer back to.

      My next post will cover answers to Question 8 of the survey: What would help you make better use of your conference materials when you get home? Read on at the links below:

      Conference Materials Survey: How Attendees Get Organized

      I’m running a series of posts about a survey I did to see how conference attendees organize the information and materials they bring home with them. Please be sure to read Post 1 (Survey Results Overview), Post 2 (Questions 1 & 2/Attendance & Note-taking) and Post 3 (Questions 3 & 4/Vendors & Swag) for analysis of the results thus far.

      In this post, I’m going to examine the answers to Question 5: How do you organize your conference materials when you get home?

      Respondents had the following answers to choose from (and once again, they could pick more than one):

      • I don’t
      • I create a binder for each conference I attend
      • I scan everything for future reference
      • Other (please specify)

      Twenty-one folks admitted that they don’t organize materials once they return home. Thirteen said they create a binder for each conference (but many more said they use simple file folders instead). Nine said they scanned the materials. I had 51 replies for “Other” to sort through.

      There were many interesting ideas among the various responses submitted. Here are a few examples:

      “The best way is to share your conference highlights with someone else. When I start talking about a session, I really “get” what I learned. The best conference I had was when my roommate and I de-briefed each other each evening on our highlights.” (this type of comment was echoed by at least one other respondent)

      “One thing that helps me is postings or articles about conference sessions. e.g. for our AIIP conference, I love reading the articles in Connections, esp. if I missed a session. I love the way others perceived the content of a session as it broadens my own understanding.”

      “I generally review all my notes and create a list of action items for follow-up.”

      “I write up summaries (with links to slideshare etc) and keep it in a file on my computer.”

      One respondent mentioned in answer to this question that she live-blogs to help her record sessions. Another respondent said they take notes on index cards and then these are filed appropriately on their return — I need to follow-up with this respondent to see how these are organized. I keep imagining they have an old card catalog cabinet or something.

      Still another very organized respondent organizes reference materials for vendors and products she already uses in files she has for each of those providers; notes on topics related to research she performs are filed in the appropriate boxes by subject; she has a “Try It” box for new things to explore and she schedules time to try these out; and finally, she sorts the cards for contacts with whom she needs to follow-up.

      Stay tuned for my next post on how many folks purchase conference materials on CD/thumbdrive and/or purchase recordings of sessions after the fact. Read more below:

      Conference Materials Survey: Vendors and Swag

      This is the third post in a series about a survey of conference attendees and how they handle the materials and information gathered at such events. Here are the links to Post 1 (Survey Results Overview) and Post 2 (Questions 1 & 2/Attendance & Note-taking).

      The third question of the survey asked respondents if they visit vendors at conferences. Only five of the 85 overall respondents said they did not. Really, who can resist all those shiny new pens, and those pins with the flashing LED lights?

      Next, respondents were asked what they do with the swag they pick up from vendors when they get home. Their choices (and more than one could be selected):

      • I try not to pick up vendor swag
      • I only pick up what I know I’ll use
      • I give it to my kids
      • It’s in a drawer
      • Other (please specify)

      Forty-nine people claimed they only pick up what they know they’ll use — well, they’re less impulsive than I am. I always come home from conferences with a crick in my neck from carrying my conference bag full of pamphlets, notepads, magnets, erasers, rulers, you get the idea.

      Fifteen people said they don’t pick up vendor swag (and, presumably, five of them were those who don’t visit vendors at all). A handful of people said they give it to their kids and/or have it stuffed in a drawer.

      Thirty-three respondents had other ideas or uses for vendor swag. A few of them donate the items they pick up to their local genealogical society, library or other local organizations. A couple of folks admitted to using them for stocking stuffers. One respondent said, “Toys go to my husband who gives them to neighbor kids, so my husband is a superstar.”

      Others divvy up their haul among their coworkers when they return to the office or use them as door prizes or giveaways. One respondent gathers so many tote bags at conferences, she Freecycles them twice a year.

      Additionally, many folks admitted that they end up tossing most of what they gather, some as soon as they get back to their hotel room.

      Stay tuned for the responses to the next question — how folks organize everything else they bring home from a conference. Read more at the links below:

      Conference Materials Survey: Attendance & Note-Taking

      This is the second post in a series to sum up the results of a survey about how conference attendees handle the information and materials they gather at events. You can read the first post here.

      In this post, I’ll review the first two questions of the survey and their responses. The first question was to ascertain how many conferences each respondent attended within the past 12 months.

      Here is the breakdown:

      None: 2 respondents
      1-2 conferences: 58 respondents
      3-4 conferences: 18 respondents
      5-6 conferences: 4 respondents
      More than 6 conferences: 3 respondents

      Question 2 of the survey asked respondents how they take notes at conferences. Respondents chose from the following (and were able to select as many options as they wanted):

      • On my computer
      • In a notebook
      • On loose-leaf paper
      • Audio recorder
      • I just sit and listen
      • Other (please specify)

      Most (51 respondents) said they used a notebook, 22 said they used loose-leaf paper and 21 used a computer. Only one used an audio recorder and eight said they just sit and listen. Seventeen responded with “Other” and elaborated. Among these responses, four said they use a handheld device to take notes and still another said, “Sometimes I send myself or another staff member a message from my Blackberry right away during a session if there is a take-away idea that is immediately relevant/implement-able for our org.”

      Several more said they prefer to take notes on the conference syllabus or other handouts. One respondent mentioned using Twitter to take notes and another said he either live-blogged or tweeted his notes. Only a couple said they used notepads supplied at conferences.

      Stay tuned for the respondents’ answers about vendors and swag in my next post. Read more at the links below:

      Conference Materials Survey — Results Overview

      Earlier this month, I asked folks to respond to a survey about how they deal with the information, materials and swag that they collect at conferences. I will be putting together a full report on the results, but I’m going to publish the report bit-by-bit on my blog as I write it. You, my faithful readers (and hopefully, some of the survey’s respondents) will get a sneak peek!

      The Questions

      The survey’s questions were as follows:

      1 ) How many conferences have you attended in the past year?

      2 ) How do you take notes at conferences?

      3 ) Do you visit vendors at conferences?

      4 ) What do you do with vendor swag when you get home?

      5 ) How do you organize your conference materials when you get home?

      6 ) Do you purchase conference handouts on CD or thumbdrive, if offered?

      7 ) Do you purchase recordings of sessions, when offered?

      8 ) What would help you make better use of conference materials when you get home?

      9 ) Other thoughts? Do you use systems/tools to keep yourself organized at/after a conference not already covered above? Ever been wowed by how a conference presented its materials? How did they do it?

      10 ) Please provide your email address below if I can contact you with follow-up questions and/or if you would like a copy of the results of this survey.

      The Respondents

      I advertised the online-only survey to my networks on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, here on this blog, and on the listservs of a couple of professional associations to which I belong (the Association of Independent Information Professionals and the Special Libraries Association, in particular). Eighty-five (!) people responded to my survey during the week that I had it available online. This was more than I could have hoped for.

      The majority of the respondents, therefore, were librarians, genealogists and other types of information professionals. These folks tend to be organized and focused on how they process information. It is presumed that they all had a comfort level with computers, the Internet and some forms of social media in order to take the survey.

      Preliminary Results

      The demographics of the survey respondents might suggest that the group who participated may be more organized than your average conference attendee. After going through the aggregated responses to the multiple choice questions and skimming the individual comments for other of the questions above, many of the respondents do have intricate systems for organizing conference information.

      I also found though that many, like me, expressed frustration with a lack of time and appropriate tools to organize everything that they gather. There were suggestions for dealing with notes, handouts, giveaways, business cards and other data, information and materials that one collects at a conference. Some of these suggestions are systems that the respondents already use and others are wishlist items that will depend on conference organizers, or even vendors, to supply.

      In ensuing posts, I go over the responses to each of the questions asked in the survey. Read on at the links below: