I’m currently away at the IFLA World Library and Information Congress 2012 held in Helsinki, Finland.
It’s by far the biggest international conference I’ve been to (over 4,200 delegates from 120 countries) and it’s the longest I’ve been away for work in a long time. I’m here to co-present a paper with my colleague Sarah Jones, Digital Curation Centre at HATII, University of Glasgow and Maggie Pickton of the University of Northampton. We are on the main stage tomorrow morning and talking about Leading from the library: data management initiatives at the University of Northampton in the The role of libraries in data curation, access and preservation: an international perspective session. The paper is available in pdf format.
This is my first trip to Finland and so far I’ve been really impressed. It’s a very clean, efficient, eco-conscious place. The city itself is fairly small and the public transport system is excellent. I’ve been able to walk or jump on a tram, bus or tram to everywhere with no problems.
It’s also a well-wired city. There is free wifi in the airport, main library, conference and hotel. Also the Angry Birds wifi system has made Helsinki the world’s first capital in which the city centre’s internet traffic is based on a united wireless connection that is free of charge and does not require signing in. It covers lots of tourist areas from the city centre to Kauppatori and the Kaivopuisto beach. In future the connection will cover even more areas of the city.
To avoid using my phone and paying astronomical data-roaming charges I’ve been Skyping home. I’ve also been keeping in touch with my colleagues who are here using WhatsApp messenger app which has worked well.
The biggest issue I’ve found is keeping all my devices charged up. Although I’ve brought two adaptors I actually have three bits of equipment that need charging: phone, camera, laptop. Also to the door key needs to be a slot in the room for electricity to be activated (I can see the environmental reasons for this) so there is no charging while I’m out. I’m finding that I’m juggling devices to take photos and get a connection. There were also no available power sockets at the conference, which was a bit of a surprise, most events I go to in the UK have extension leads everywhere. People in another session were tweeting about Laptop lockers with electricity plug sockets – I really could have done with one of those!
However not having a well charged phone does seem like a first world problem and I really shouldn’t complain as I’m getting to spend some time in such a fab city!