At the 2009 WebWise Conference on Museums and Libraries in the Digital Age, held here in D.C. last week, I collected a new term: switch-tasking. Definition? Instead of doing a number of things all at once–multitasking–you rotate among tasks. I haven’t figured out yet whether the difference is more semantic than substantive, but it’s worth thinking about.
The conference itself was fascinating, as much for the anthropology of it as for the substance. Here’s part of the report I posted to the Chronicle’s Wired Campus blog:
If youâ€™re used to the decorum of a big academic conferenceâ€”the Modern Language Associationâ€™s annual confab, for instanceâ€”the atmostphere at the WebWise Conference … comes as a bit of a shock. No more furtive tapping away at your laptop in the dark corners of meeting rooms. Laptops are not only tolerated at WebWise, theyâ€™re practically mandatory.
At this yearâ€™s WebWise conference, held here Feb. 26-27, the organizersâ€”the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Wolfsonian museum at Florida International Universityâ€”arranged for a designated conference wifi connection. They also set up a backchannel Twitter-style feed (via a service called Todayâ€™s Meet) where attendees kept up a lively running dialogue in short-message form during the presentations. Many were tweeting at the same time, tagging their posts to create a running Twitter stream of commentary and i-reports. (Twitter also turns out to be a handy way to solicit local restaurant recommendations.)