Escaping the Echo Chamber (but not, sadly, the traffic) with SLA Europe

Last night Geraldine Clement-Stoneham and the rest of her SLA Europe team hosted an event, at the City Business Library in London, all about escaping the echo chamber. It's about a year since Laura and I started talking about echolib and trying to raise awareness of the issue, so to go from a speculative tweet to a fully fledged event aimed at addressing the problem, in 12 months or so, is fantastic. Cheers so much to Geraldine for putting this on! We roped Voices for the Library in to present also - the idea was that we'd explain the echo chamber phenomenon, and then they'd show what can be done when you escape it. However...

VftL had to go on first, because I was late. No just a bit late, but arriving an hour and 20 minutes after the event had started, late. I'd set off from my house in York at 8am, with baby and wife. The idea was to get to Brighton by around 2pm, get the train up to London, have a meeting about something really exciting, then head to the City Business Library for 5:30pm. Due to a series of road-based disasters (stationary traffic for 7 miles on the M1, and the A1 closed you say? Good news!) I was still driving ELEVEN HOURS LATER, having abandoned going to Brighton entirely, trying to get to a car park near the library. My wife described this whole thing as the most stressful day of her life (keep in mind she gave birth less than 4 months ago...) and I have to say, I was absolutely frantic for most of the day. We were acutely aware that it didn't REALLY matter in the grand scheme of things (by which I mean, we could have been in the accidents that caused the delays, so it's all relative) but it did seem, as we inched forward 200 yards every hour and a half, desperate for the loo most of the time, the whole car smelling of burned clutch, fighting with other London drivers during rush-hour as we took the final 6 miles of our journey in a mere 3 hours, like the end of the world was nigh. Emily, the baby, was just incredible - by far the best behaved of all of us. She was so patient, so smiley, and hardly cried at all. When we got to London, I ran off to try and take part in the event, while Emily and my wife were met by my in-laws, who'd incredibly kindly come up from Brighton to help ease the stress, and they all got the train back down to Brighton. This is a library blog so I don't want to spend too much time harping on about family - but Robert, Susan, Alice, and especially Emily - thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. :)

Thank you also to Bethan and JoBo for changing the order and going on first, and for Laura for taking over and doing a lot of the presentation solo. By all accounts, Laura was ace at the bits she doesn't normally do, despite having no script or notes to work from, and no time to prepare! I got there in time to do two of the parts I normally do, which I enjoyed, but I really really wished I'd been there from the start. I'd so been looking forward to this event, it was so important to me to do it well, and there were so many people going I wanted to meet. So once again, to everyone who attended, thank you so much for your patience!

Although I was slightly distracted by not knowing what had been said already, and felt I couldn't get into a proper ranty stride regarding Seth Godin etc, I think it still went well and lots of people said positive things. The networking afterwards was my favourite networking experience ever. The previous day in Newcastle at the New Professionals Information Day I'd felt uncharacteristically unconfident and uncomfortable for some reason, so this was a really nice antidote to that. I met so many people for the first time (either having interacted with them previously on Twitter or not having any previous knowledge of them) and they were all absolutely lovely. I had a great time. But, I also had the travel-cot etc in my car, so sadly I have to make the drive back to Brighton earlier than I'd wanted to. However, the pain of this was mitigated by giving Neil Infield a lift home! He navigated superbly (it was great to see some parts of London a second time :) ) and we had a great chat, about libraries of course, in the car...

Anyway, here is the Prezi from last night - it's a re-configured, updated and improved version of the previous one. As with all embeded content it will change on here as we change it on Prezi, so have a look now, before we start mucking about with it to change it for the Libraries@Cambridge event in January.

Final thing - thanks so much to everyone who came. A friend of mine who has lived in London, likens trying to get Londoners to come back into the middle of London for something in the evening, to asking Frodo Baggins to go through all he goes through in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and then when he finally makes it back to the safety of the Shire, asking him if he fancies a pint at Mount Doom.

So, cheers for coming along folks!