code4Lib 2015!

See original posting here.

Hi everyone, this is Vicky reporting from Portland, Oregon! I am here on the west coast for the first time attending code4Lib 2015, and since today is the last day of the conference, I thought I’d give everyone a bit of a report about what went on here.

First, I want to talk about the format of presentations at code4Lib. It’s absolutely unlike any other conference I’ve ever been too. There are no multiple sessions going at once. Everything is streamlined into one room. Yes--we sat in a room from 9-5pm watching 20 minute presentations, with an hour for lunch and two to three half hour breaks. This sounds really daunting but I have to tell you--it was so refreshing! I’ll talk a little bit more about the actual presentations later on.

code4Lib also is the first conference I’ve ever been to that takes the idea of explicit consent to heart and offers attendees and presenters ways to opt-in to potential anxiety-triggering events (like being filmed or photographed) rather than opt-out. I find this really progressive and important--other conferences, take note. All presenters had to sign a consent form, and could opt-in to being filmed and live-streamed (find the live stream and archived videos here). Attendees wore red lanyards if they didn’t. You can find a great blog post on explicit consent by code4Libber Tara Robinson here.

code4Lib Lanyard

Picture taken from the blog mentioned above.

We had an NDSR moment too! Rebecca from the Boston cohort presented on the “horror story” of data loss in LTO tapes at WGBH. It gave everyone in the audience a chill and started some really interesting conversations at break about preservation. It’s especially important because this was the only presentation that focused on digital preservation. I was shocked a conference as techy as code4Lib didn’t include more presentations on digipres, but the presentation are chosen by votes so maybe most attendees didn’t think the other presentations on digipres were relevant. Read more about Rebecca’s presentation here.

ndsr4Lib

NDSR NY & Boston representing at code4Lib 2015! Me, Peggy, & Rebecca

Peggy and Rebecca also participated in the pre-conference PBCore Hackaton! Read more about that here.

The content of the presentations was super diverse and interesting. The conference organizers did a really good job of grouping the presentations by topic so everything flowed really organically from one to the other. Kudos!

I found that my favorite presentations dealt with actual technical products or services that people had been developing. This was especially interesting to me because of my background in computer science and continued work in the tech-related side of LIS. While there were great presentations on other subjects I’m interested in (management practices and libs & social justice work, to name a few), I found these “meat and potatoes” presentations to be the most eye-opening for me. I had no idea that SASS was something gaining traction in web development, but apparently it’s the next step in web aesthetics. It’s basically a cleaner version of CSS that compiles into CSS--the best part for me: you can have variables instead of duplicates in your code! No more will my web pages have CSS that reads:

body{background-color:#222930;color:#E9E9E9;} *scroll down about 100 lines* #nav ul ul {display: none; position: absolute; border:1px solid #E9E9E9;}
It will have:
@color: #E9E9E9;
that can be instantiated anywhere I want it! I can change one value instead of one thousand! Mind=blown.

Other tech touched upon library tools that make jobs as techy-librarians easier. Like the presentation on packer.io. Packer.io is a tool for creating identical machine images for multiple platforms (Docker, VMWare, VirtualBox, etc), all from a single source configuration. The presenters gave the example of an Islanadora install. There are a lot of software dependencies that comes with the install and it is a really convoluted and intense process. If you want to put this on another computer, it would require you to do that whole install all over again. With packer.io, there are no more crazy software stacks. You just “clone” the first computer and boot up the second one with the system image disk. Boom. Just one config.

It’s scriptable so that builds can be automated and it’s API is extendable to make it work with just about anything. This is such an awesome tool and I’m so glad I got to hear someone speak on it in detail. It could definitely have some possibilities at the AMNH. You can see the full line-up of presentations here, many of which have the slides attached.

packerio

A slide from a presentation on packer.io. The rest of the slides here & info on packer.io here.

Portland has also been a blast to explore. As my first introduction to the west coast, its basically everything I thought it would be: Williamsburg if Williamsburg were a huge city. It was filled with trendy thrift shops, tiny hole-in-the-wall music and tea shops, and a population dressed in the finest worn leather jackets and combat boots. Everyone is really friendly and willing to help when tourists (read: me) get hopelessly lost. The city even gave me a sign post to make getting home easier:

Portland

Is it a coincidence Times Square and Mecca are in the same direction?

Portland had a ton of really niche spots to explore. When I told friends I was going to Portland, the first thing they told me was: get donuts! The best two are Blue Star Donuts and Voodoo Doughnuts. I ended up trying both, but only one can be king. Turns out it’s:

Voodoo Donuts

My fav Portland donut spot: Voodoo Doughnuts!

code4Lib provided a great semi-structured social event after-hours at the eBay HQ called beer4Lib where conference attendees brought beer from their home or local to Portland. Everyone got together, shared their takeaways from the con, played some pool, and tried some new craft beers. I’m just excited I got to say I had beers at eBay!

Beer4Lib

Awesome beer4Lib speciality glasses provided by the con organizers!

Today I am going to continue my exploration by adding Powell’s City of Books (apparently, the Strand of Portland) and a cat cafe called Purrington’s Cat Lounge to my list of visited places in Portland. Though I’m sad the conference is over, I’m glad I had the opportunity to both explore a new city and to speak with other techy-librarians and get to see what such a diverse population of institutions are doing to contribute to the management, organization, and storage of digital assets. Needless to say, I’ll be back next year to explore a (hopefully) new city and new conference materials.

PS. As an aside, I thought this was quite funny: after the two people live-tweeting the event, I am the person tweeting the most about the con! How weird...BUT everyone can access the #c4l15 twitter archive here if they want to see what everyone’s been tweeting about!

Tweet4Lib