Jennifer Maiko Kishi Code4Lib 2014 Conference Report 1 April 2014
As a new professional in the field, lone digital archivist, and a first timer to the Code4Lib Conference, my experience was incredibly inspiring and enriching. I value Code4Lib’s collective mission of teaching and learning through community, collaboration, and a free exchange of ideas. The conference was unique and unlike any other library or archives conference I have attended. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of planning events to specifically welcome new attendees. The newcomer dinner was not only a great way to meet fellow newbies (and oldtimers) on the evening before the conference, but also provided familiar faces to say hello to the following day. Moreover, Code4Lib resolved my session selecting anxieties, where I always feel like I’ve missed out on yet another important session. The conference is set up so that all attendees will have equal opportunities to view the sessions together in a continuous fashion, in addition to live streams made available to those unable to attend. The conference was jam packed with back to back presentations, lightning talks, and breakout sessions. There was a good balance of interesting topics by insightful speakers, mixed in with scheduled breaks with copious coffee and tea to stay alert and focused throughout the day.
Bright and early Monday morning, I attended the preconference workshop for Railsbridge: Intro to Ruby Programming. The workshop was fast-paced and covered a lot of materials in a short amount of time. The structure of the workshop followed the step-by-step curriculum available on the Railsbridge site – beginning with an overview covering basic Ruby syntax, creating and adding files to Git repository, and ultimately creating a voting system that allows users to vote, view, create, edit, and destroy topics. In the afternoon, I attended the Intro to Git workshop, which covered fundamentals of Git – what it is, the structure, and basic commands for getting started. As a Ruby and Git newbie, I found both workshops to be equally effective and provided a good introduction to each topic.
The conference kicked off with an inspiring keynote talk by Sumana Harihareswara, Senior Technical Writer at Wikimedia Foundation. Sumana’s presentation on usability, empathy, and social justice particularly spoke to me as my focus in my graduate studies often explored the importance of human-centered design to improve user experience, information access, and discoverability. Furthermore, I have been contemplating the Hacker School for some time and her positive experience with the program was immensely motivating - I hope to apply in the near future.
Many of the presentations and lightning talks were made up of discourse on new (to me), innovative, experimental technologies and practices. Some of my favorites include WebSockets for Real-Time and Interactive Interfaces, Visualizing Library Resources as Networks, Dial-A-DPLA, and Adding a Map View to your Blacklight App. I found Bohyun Kim’s Quick/Easy Data Visualization w/ Google Viz API & Chart Library to be useful, as I’m interested in utilizing simple tools to help visualize, make sense of, and see patterns in large data sets. Bess Sadler’s talk on Sustaining your Open Source Project Through Training was empowering as an aspiring library technologist interested in open source development.
The Code4Lib conference was a great learning experience. I am grateful to the generous sponsors - Council on Library and Information Resources/Digital Library Federation, EBSCO, ProQuest, Sumana Harihareswara, and the Scholarship Committee for this incredible opportunity to participate in the 2014 Conference and connect with fellow community members. I am excited to be part of the Code4Lib community and look forward to future collaborations, discourse, and next year’s conference in Portland.