As the third week of the semester begins, I am at a new conference, rather than on campus. Those who conceived of this conference wanted it to be different that a normal library conference and it is. Each participant was asked to select an "experience." We might envision each experience as being a conference track, but with no moving between tracks. Some tracks had prework! We've been told to dress comfortably and to be ready to "do." One of the tracks reportedly will have an "amazing race " like component to it. Pretty cool!
Why is this the Risk and Reward Conference (or R-Squared) and what does that have to do with libraries? We need to get out of our element and out of the echo chambers that exist in our organizations and in regular conferences...and into environments that help us think about innovation. Innovation comes with both risks and rewards. We don't cultivate risk taking, rather we often want to play it safe. This conference hopes to spark innovative thinking and activities, through its different activities. To that end, there will be a pitch-fest on Tuesday night, where conference participants will be encouraged to pitch new ideas and find collaborators.
The evening events are quite interesting and have a bit of self-organizing to them. There is a happy hour on Monday evening (something that most library conference have!). Tuesday we are all seeing a special showing of a documentary (I am) that should spark interesting ideas about making a difference in the world. After that, there is a happy hour and the pitch-fest, which will happen at midnight. I imagine that at midnight our inhibitions will be low and the ideas will flow more freely.
So why am I here? While this is focused on libraries being innovators, my hope is that I will learn things that I can bring into the classroom for our future library professionals. I may also learn things to discuss and implement with the faculty. But I must admit that it feels odd to be heading to an event without knowing exactly what I will be learning or what might be transferable to others. However, I am sure this conference will not disappoint.
I'll be sharing what I learn at this conference as quickly as I can, here and through Twitter. You can follow the conference happenings on Twitter with the hashtag #rsq12.