There was a Medical Library Association (MLA) webcast on Friday, November 18th that threw many of us for a loop – and not just because it was held on a Friday instead of a Wednesday. It was primarily because the webcast platform completely changed and those of us sharing about the webcast via Twitter had to come up with our own hashtag, hence WTH (what’s the hashtag). I encouraged attendees of the webcast to provide feedback via evaluation forms but wanted to give a heads up for those who weren’t there about what has changed too.
Connecting E-science and Team Science: The Changing Nature of Research was held via GoToWebinar and not a studio set that features most of the presenters there as a live panel (the way they have been run for several years). As an MLA webcast site coordinator I knew about the platform change ahead of time but wasn’t sure if streaming live video would be part of the webcast. It wasn’t, which understandably led to a surprised reaction by many. 90 minutes is a long time to pay rapt attention to PowerPoints and disembodied voices. I know it’s hard for even 60 minutes, which is why I try my best to channel my college DJ/news director self into most of the PowerPoint-and-disembodied-voice webcasts I host to make them more engaging.
I’m having trouble pulling up cost information for previous MLA webcasts, but there was a savings that was passed on to MLA members compared to the last webcast which was held on the studio set. Audio quality on the webcast was variable from each presenter and there are opportunities for improvement with presentation streamlining (i.e. combining all the PowerPoints in one presentation instead of messy transitions and “oops” as presenters understandably fumbled with desktop shares), but the connection didn’t crash outright compared to the studio broadcast which often did.
What concerns me the most though is that the content of the webcast is apparently gone for good after 30 days – no mention of a DVD option for purchase seems to be available. Here’s what I found, previous MLA webcasts also have DVDs of them available but I wasn’t easily able to find their webcast prices for comparison:
|Webcast||Date||Individual Cost||Site Cost|
|Shifting Skills to Navigate the Changing Horizon: Finding Our Way in New Biomedical Research and Health Care Environments||April 20, 2011 with
DVD purchase option
|Connecting E-science and Team Science: The Changing Nature of Research||November 18, 2011 with
no DVD purchase option
|$75 with no purchase option for recording||$395 with $99 purchase option for a recording with 30 days of access|
This was entirely within MLA’s control and simply… not done. Having a twitter hashtag is not new, as MLA has had established conference hashtags for several years now and webcast hashtags back to November 2009. As a result of not having an established webcast hashtag, time was wasted beforehand in an unnecessary Twitter ritual: What’s the hashtag for the MLA webcast? #mlaescience? #mlawebcast? #mlaesci? Who knows – as a result of us not knowing, I strongly advocated for our (somewhat?) established #medlibs and it appeared to reach most of the medical librarian community that was tweeting the webcast.
For those questioning the value of Twitter and established hashtags, I offer my previous post about Embedded Librarianship Via Twitter and this:
It was happenstance that the Texas Digital Library and VIVO itself noticed the discussion during the webcast. Imagine how many more outreach opportunities and connections could have been made between the medical library and research communities on Twitter if an established hashtag was created and marketed beforehand.
Are we as medical information professionals serious about our role as collaborators in medical research, e-science and team science? Then it’s time for our national organization to participate: establish Twitter hashtags well in advance for all MLA events (especially webcasts) so we’re all on the same channel. We want to connect, we want to share, and we need to make the most of interdisciplinary connections we have both in social media and other networks.