(Before I get to that, I just got back from the Mutter Museum–yay!)
Probably the other blogs have already covered this, but as I haven’t checked my reader in a couple of days, I will take the liberty of pretending no one has. Mark Funk’s presidential theme is Only Connect!, a quote from Howard’s End. He talked at length about why people associate (i.e., why are we all at MLA?), including an amusing look at some of the goofy and off-beat associations listed in the Encyclopedia of Associations, such as the International Sand Collectors Club, the Bowling Writers of America, the Northern Nut Growers Association, and the Association of Professional Piercers. The latter drew a lot of laughs from the audience for its health and education emphasis, which I thought was rather bizarre, since infected piercings, bloodborne diseases, and etc. are in fact major health concerns. (Physicians and health professionals should know how to remove piercings, basically–and if you want to help your health professionals learn how to do this, there is a book).
Anyway, he concluded that it is a fundamental part of human nature to associate, and then moved into a diverting simulation of a cave man giving a presentation at a cave man association meeting (complete with bulleted list).
The goal of his presidency of MLA is to expand the reach of the association and stop the isolation of librarians, spread out across the country and the world as we are. He talked about how only a minority of MLA members get to come to MLA–there needs to be a way to include all members in decision-making, educational efforts, and the community of MLA meetings, even when members can’t make it. This way, all members would be able to participate, share knowledge, and connect with each other.
He sees technology as the first step towards this goal–specifically social software and Web 2.0 technologies. He mentioned specifically blogs, wikis, and RSS, even naming boing boing as a top blog in addition to T. Scott’s blog. There was a lot more to this section of his talk, but overall, he just was encouraging using these tools as means of increasing the conversation and building participation in decision-making, along with making the association transparent.
He went through a mock-up of what a personalized myMLANET might look like, complete with member profile (no real social networking functionality was mentioned, though I would think his task force would look at that), RSS feed aggregator, auto-populated profile information (like what sections you belong to), AHIP points documenter, “tags” (which could be to a number of things, but he specifically mentioned del.icio.us and Flickr) and virtual conference materials, like videos and more.
He went through an example of how new members could then feel instantly connected to MLA, like their membership and opinions count, even if they just joined that day. For example, the profile he showed belonged to the cave man from the earlier simulation (Cyril Kaufman). Cyril logs on and sees in his aggregator page a post to the Public Services blog about a saber-toothed tiger loose in the stacks–Cyril could immediately post a response due to his specialized saber-toothed tiger knowledge. (The saber-toothed tiger infested library was in Kansas–where as we all know, evolution never happened…did I mention Mark Funk’s speech was hilarious?)
The final bits of his speech were talking about the speed of implementation of these ideas, which he realistically noted probably wouldn’t be in his tenure. He did encourage the association to reject the culture of perfect and stay in permanent beta, which got cheers from the audience. He got a standing ovation at the close of his speech–really, it was that good.