Since the IWMW event was launched in 1997 support for the growth of the web management community has been ranked as important as the content shared in plenary talks and workshop sessions.
For many years the conference dinner on the opening night provided opportunities to catch up with existing friends and acquaintances and meet others (note the accompanying image shows the conference dinner at the Merseyside Maritime Museum at IWMW 2016). The second night of the event has traditionally provided further opportunities to meet people at an event social, typically held in a museum, gallery or other cultural location, after which participants were free to go off in smaller groups to local pubs and restaurants.
However, since the relaunch of the events in 2014 (following the cessation of Jisc funding for UKOLN, which organised the event) we have become aware that the event has started to attract significant numbers of people who are either new to the event or have only attended a small number of previous IWMW events.
A danger of this turnover in attendance is that those who have attended many previous IWMW events and have well-established links with fellow participants may find the annual opportunity to catch-up with one’s peers could acts as a barrier for new-comers.
This year, therefore, we have decided to break with tradition and hold two social events based around an evening meal. On the opening night we will have a conference dinner in Rutherford Dining Hall, where delegates will be encouraged to sit with people they don’t know, and work together to complete a quiz, with prizes for the winners.
On the second evening we will have a barbeque, which will feature further opportunities for delegates to mix with each other through a series of activities designed to get everyone chatting, and mingling, and to increase their own professional networks – and there may more healthy competition thrown in for good measure. The barbeque will be held early in the evening, giving everyone the opportunity to explore the campus or town under their own steam later on, should they wish to.
As a number of delegates will be arriving on the Monday, we will pick a local pub in the town for people to meet and eat, and grab a drink or two, on the evening before the event starts.
Brian Kelly and Claire Gibbons
IWMW 2017 co-chairs