I was worried that the DP community would not be updated on the latest developments due to the postponement of iPRES2020 and PASIG. But last week’s online conference #wemissiPRES was an excellent opportunity to hear all kinds of interesting initiatives. A team of Friends of iPRES – and I was one of them – managed in 2 months to create an alternative for the most important conference in Digital Preservation. It was not the same as a regular iPRES, but it offered some new elements of which I think upcoming conferences can benefit.
No review or prescribed format
We did not put any threshold on the submissions. We did not review the submissions but we just asked people to speak for 8 minutes. The result was over a 100 good quality and interesting submissions. They often were informal and gave a good update of what is happening. People felt free to use a loose format: Mentimeter, small games etc. The 8-minute time frame was less stressing than the “Minute madness”. It offered a better opportunity to present the essence of the topic.
New speakers and participants
Apart from people who presented at previous iPRES conferences, there were also several new comers. Did they find this formula less frighting? We also heard that many people were now able to join, where they normally lacked the budget to participate with their team in an official iPRES. Our outreach was big: over 50 countries participated with over 1200 participants (800 unique visitors).
While watching, I felt like “my friends of iPRES” entered into my home. I know, I’m fortunate because based on my 15 years of experience in digital preservation, I know a lot of people. And that is what worries me too: how can we help newcomers in digital preservation help to build their network? How can we replace the informal meetings normally happening during the conferences? I know some important initiatives started while people were waiting on an airport or were accidentally sitting next to each other during a conference dinner.
Of course, wemissiPRES could not replace a regular iPRES. Although we like to be optimistic, chances are that the Covid-19 virus will prevent us from having international face to face meetings in 2021, some say even not in 2022. Many other communities are facing the same problem and are looking for alternatives. Let’s learn from them and sustain and expand our preservation community.
Preservation pleasures at YouTube
You can watch the edited versions of #WemissiPRES on YouTube or follow this schema for the unedited versions.