Letter from the Executive Director (December 2019)

There are a lot of opportunities for the community to gather. As new communities of interest have developed, smaller meetings focused on a specific topic or theme have spawned and grown. Even as we spend more and more time on virtual meeting platforms, there is still great value in coming together in person, or IRL if you’re texting from the meeting. Based on my experience of literally thousands of online meetings, there are still things people can only do effectively in a room together. For example, group discussions, sharing reactions, group brainstorming, and topic synthesis by teams are all things that are most productively accomplished in the same room.

One of the most appealing aspects of bringing the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) and the National Federation of Advanced Information Services (NFAIS) together earlier this year was the opportunity to combine our respective organizational goals of focusing on details and envisioning the future. NFAIS had a long history of convening the community, with a 60-year history of bringing leaders together each year for an annual meeting. As the community has changed, the needs for how and why we gather have changed and we are changing with them.

Last month, NISO hosted a great conversation about the impact of preprint servers in Washington. A report from that meeting will be published in NISO i/o in December, summarizing some of those discussions. At the start of the meeting, I introduced the session by commenting how NISO’s in-person events should be focused more on conversation than presentation. We should take advantage of our colocation to drive discussion, interaction, and development of ideas. For those that need education and training, we can effectively do that virtually via our robust program of webinars. In-person events will now be focused on engaging the participants in a conversation about the topic, with a goal of producing tangible outputs to advance the community.

Related to this and looking forward, things are coming together quickly for the NISO Plus Conference. If you haven’t heard about it or haven’t yet registered, please check out the progress on the program or register now. The early bird deadline for discounted registration is January 15, which will be upon us faster than we think! One highlight of the conference will be the presentation of the Miles Conrad award. It is a great privilege to honor James Neal, a leader in the community and former chair of NISO, with this award, as was announced two weeks ago. We will be announcing keynote speakers shortly, but many of the topics and sessions are being filled out. The full program is available on the NISO Plus website.

The program has been built around the notion, “What will we all do on Wednesday, after this meeting is over?” There will be much time to learn, engage, and have productive outputs from the meeting. We also hope to launch new ideas and new project ideas that will advance the community during the meeting. Instead of simply listening to people talk about their successes with Big Data, ERM systems, machine learning, digital humanities, or data publishing, the conference program is built around group discussions of what we as a community will do about these technologies. These discussions will be collected, documented, and presented to the community through NISO’s Topic Committee structure to advance the best of these ideas in the new year. If you want to drive elements of the NISO agenda in the coming years, the NISO Plus Conference will be the place to advance your ideas.

As we are nearing the end of the year and focus on the coming year, I also want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you, both members and non-members, for engaging with NISO and our activities. This year has been a hectic one for us at NISO and with our new partners from the NFAIS community. We have a lot to be proud of in our accomplishments. We have also set ourselves up for tremendous successes in the coming year. May each of you have peace and partnership over this holiday season. We hope to see you all again in the coming year.


Todd A. Carpenter
Executive Director