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For those of you waiting on the ARMA flash drives, I just got mine yesterday
so look for them in the mail this week. The particulars: The flash drives
are 64MB capacity and have 71 files on them. There is an autorun that may
start the browser up; if it doesn't, open the flash drive directory and
click on Start.html and it will open. You can list the presentations by day
(Sun-Wed) and for those with Proceedings papers you'll see them as well (I
counted 7 proceedings). 
 
My thoughts: I thought this was an interesting experiment that suffered from
several problems. The first, of course, was that the flash drives weren't
there in time for the conference - and 30 days later was too long to wait to
be able to capture the important things you wanted to remember. The second
was that there was a disconnect about the lack of printers - ARMA may have
made it known that printouts were the responsibility of individual attendees
to either bring with or print on their own at their hotels, but I don't
think that was 100% clear to attendees. 
 
And the third, and perhaps most disappointing, was that what's on the flash
drive is in great majority the same Powerpoint handouts as has been
distributed in conferences past. I did that too, so I can't complain too
much about that. But as I think ARMA noted in the run-up to the conference,
we as speakers and prospective future speakers can probably do a much better
job about what attendees receive. I know this year in submitting for ARMA
2007 I made a point of indicating I would provide a number of job aids,
templates and checklists, and additional resources.
 
I'd therefore recommend that ARMA embrace this and the lesons to be learned
from it, but to take it to even the next level and set up the conference as
a wiki. This would provide a number of additional benefits: 
- The logistical burden of printed materials as well as flash drives would
be eliminated
- Individual speakers could make changes to their materials up to the date
of the conference - AND AFTER. This is a huge change in that it would allow
for a longer-lasting educational experience. 
- Speakers could also grant access to their portion of the wiki to other
speakers - or attendees - thereby allowing for even better materials and
even more collaborative learning between speaker(s) and attendees
- At some point prior to the individual sessions, a given wiki page could be
output as a PDF file so attendees would have a "definitive" version
- Ultimately the wiki could get locked down and published as a Proceedings;
or it could be left live and serve as a useful tool moving forward from
conference to conference
- ARMA chapters could be granted access, thereby providing a starting point
for meetings, access to speakers, etc. 
- ARMA members could be granted access sometime after the conference, as a
value-add for membership AND to give them an idea of what they missed by not
attending
 
There are a number of resources that could be used for this. Wikia and
PBWiki among others provide low-cost hosted solutions ranging from free to a
couple hundred dollars A YEAR to host; more enterprise-oriented solutions
exist as well (SocialText, MediaWiki, and others). SocialText has already
set up a very general speakers wiki - I use this as an example:
http://www.socialtext.net/speakers/index.cgi. What I'd propose is that each
speaker/session have their own page that would have the presentation, a
Proceedings-type paper/description, the speaker's bio and contact info, and
most importantly those other things like checklists, templates, frameworks,
job aids, etc. 
 
Thoughts? Questions? Concerns? Feel free to reply here or contact me
offline. 
 
Jesse Wilkins

CDIA+, LIT, ICP, edp, ermm, ecms

IMERGE Consulting

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