I haven’t heard back on it, yet, but I expect that the LRIG NE (Laboratory Robotics Interest Group – New England) (http://lab-robotics.org/New_England/Archives/2010-04_Meeting.htm) and Boston LIMS/Laboratory Informatics (http://www.linkedin.com/e/gis/36640/6A50095E87BA) meeting went well. 152 people had pre-registered when they had to close registration down due to a space limitation. I don’t know that any of us expected to max-out the room, but I’m glad to hear that it happened.

It took a team of volunteers a LOT of work to put this together. The night started with a networking cocktail mixer, followed by the various speakers. I’m particularly proud to say that the ELN Expert Panel we put together sounded terrific, as that was the task I more specifically worked-on. Having been closely in-touch with the panel members, I felt they were prepared and were ready to have a great session.

This local meeting was larger than some of the “big” meetings. Yet, for all that, for being so large and well-attended, it was not considered to be “news.” I have noticed that the industry periodicals spend a good bit of their newsprint on the “big” conferences. At the same time, there seems to be a shift away from attending some of the larger conferences and a shift in some areas toward doing local events.

While one could argue that promoting these local events is a local issue, I claim that if this is the type of event that people are now most likely to attend and to learn from each other, then these events are increasingly important to help promote. It’s not just about making everyone aware that these events exist for the purpose of attending them, but to give them ideas of what their own area could be doing, as well. Each of these events is a potential model for a similar event in another locale.

And think of the largest conference you’ve been to that has laboratory informatics as its topic, either generally (i.e., Laboratory Informatics), or specifically (e.g., just LIMS, just ELN, just Chromatography). Were there 152 people in the room together? It’s unlikely. So, maybe it’s time to wake-up and realize that the way we attend events changes. It doesn’t mean we’ll never return to the big conferences, just that that’s not the current trend. As such, let’s focus on the events that enable the greatest number of people in our industry to participate.

So, our “little local” event of 152 might not have been “news” but it’s certainly an important event in our industry for the year 2010, regardless.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

4 Thoughts to “Last Night’s Laboratory Informatics Meeting: Why it Isn’t “News””

  1. I agree with those comments. I think local events are gaining in importance and social media sites like Linkedin are helping to drive the localization of events.

    The reason the major publications do not take note of these events is because the local events do not spend any advertising dollars with those publications. Again, I see a major shift in the economy of the large events and the traditional publishers. It is moving to user driven, community driven social media. I personally support and promote this shift of power. It is basically a business oriented populist shift.

  2. I should probably add one more comment… While local, physical events are gaining as opposed to the larger trade events, I have first hand experience that indicates that web based events simply dwarf even larger local events in terms of user attendance. The webinars that we hold regularly have as many as 50 attendees in one session. We hold multiple session and at multiple times and when you add up the attendance for these webinars they far exceed the one time event per month of a local group.

    So in the end, I think that the web will be another example of disruptive technology in action. It has changed the face of publishing. It is changing the traditional software company by eliminating license fees through SaaS and Cloud Computing and it is having both a positive and negative impact on physical trade events.

    I think the biggest affect on the large trade shows is more a function of the economy being bad, travel being a pain and simply more choices on the web to gain information and interact with one’s peers. I support the localized event but in the end I do not believe it is as efficient or as productive as web based venues.

  3. However, nothing takes the place of human interaction and one of the great powers of the social media tools is that they do enable the populous to meet more easily and give greater power to the individual. The MeetUp tool, alone, is supposed to be a stellar example of this. These tools allow us to congregate and form our own events and to come together, which was much harder before these tools. Thus, as one of the great books on this says (Clay Shirky, maybe?), it allows us to “organize without an organization.”

    I will cite this personal example: while I don’t want to make the effort of creating the LIMS/Laboratory Informatics group ( http://www.linkedin.com/e/gis/36640/6A50095E87BA ) out to be easy nor was it easy to have worked on the joint meeting with LRIG, it never would have been possible for me to start the ball rolling on any of this without tools like LinkedIn.

    I don’t want to suggest by any means that LinkedIn is the perfect tool. After all, it’s just a piece of software and, like all software, it is merely one aspect in our efforts to network within our industry – not a replacement for the personal networking we already do (this is according to the networking experts and I will attest to having this same experience, myself). Truly, I can attest that I’ve met lots of people from my efforts with LinkedIn, both on-line and in-person.

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