Conference brings exposure to College of Information

Conference brings exposure to College of Information

Joshua Knopp / Staff Writer

The eighth iConference, a semi-annual gathering of information colleges from around the world, met at the Worthington Renaissance hotel in Fort Worth last week with UNT serving as the host school.

Hundreds of attendees from 19 different countries learned how to predict the success of questions in social question-gathering, examined patterns in memory and recall abilities, and studied how individuals’ thought patterns changed when part of a group, among a wide variety of other information-related seminars.

UNT ended up being the host school due to conference chair and Library Director William Moen’s desire to put the school’s college of information in the spotlight.

“When Herman [Totten, conference co-chair and dean of the College of Information] told me they were looking for hosts and asked me if we should bid, I said, ‘If we want to be players in this field, we should act like it,’” he said. “I wanted to put our College of Information on the map.”

Moen first helped UNT to host the event in 2010, and has been working for the past 18 months to put it together.

Moen said he was glad to see the iConference finally happen.

“I’ve been working about 18 hours a day since I don’t know when,” he said.

Program committee member Linda Schamber said the multitude of seminars available was because colleges of information study a wide variety of ways information can be used.

“Our focus is on information, so it really transcends other subjects,” she said.

Schamber said the conference’s topics reached anything the organizers felt held relevance to the global information society. This included digital literacy, information laws and different ways to display information.

UNT President V. Lane Rawlins and Professor of library and information Ruth West were also on-hand as keynote speakers for the conference’s theme, “Scholarship in Action.” Many College of Information students were present as volunteers, as well as attendees, who appreciated the variety of seminars available.

“One of the sessions I really enjoyed was discussing the convergence of museums, libraries and archives through digital materials,” said Rita Nix, information science master’s student and student assistant at Willis Library. “That’s partly what we’re trying to get a picture of, what it’s going to be like in 2050.”

Information science graduate student Olajumoke Azogu was a volunteer, an attendee and a presenter. She presented a system she helped create that allows users to randomly sample metadata, or data about data.

Previously, she said, it was difficult to get a big-picture look at metadata because getting a random sample of data wasn’t easy to do.

“The conference was a bit tedious, but it was also interesting and I got to meet people,” Azogu said.

She said the conference re-affirmed her work, as she found people who were having problems that her research was trying to solve.

After working non-stop to put the conference together, Moen said he was happy with the end result.

“I’m not going to go home tonight and with my third beer say, ‘God, we really screwed up,’” he said. “I’m going to say, ‘We nailed it.’”

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