Bags of innovation

I should qualify that this post is not just an excuse for me to write about bags, but since the JISC conference on Tuesday bags (and not just the “it-bag” variety) have been on my mind. When I read Pete Johson’s post this morning about the Open Repositories Conference, I have to confess it was his description of the conference “man-bag” that resonated with me most. I felt that it was a sign that this post was justifiable and that bags are related to educational technology.

The theme of the JISC conference was “enabling innovation”, which is where the bag thang comes in. As ever, at registration delegates were presented with the obligatory conference bag and accompanying glossy brochures etc. I have to say I think this year JISC were quite innovative in giving out eco-friendly cotton, re-usable tote style bags. There may even be a chance that I will actually use mine again and not just chuck it onto the conference bag heap under my desk:-) So thumbs up there for the conference organisers. But do we really need to have bags at all at this kind of event? Do the JISC audience really need to have glossy programmes – wouldn’t one bit of paper with the agenda and layout suffice – or a USB stick? (Again this is something Pete mentions in his post, and in fact I think it was a previous post from Pete that was instrumental for us in CETIS to try and keep the paperwork at conference to a minimum). Or is the power of a glossy brochure really still greater than all the web-resources at our disposal?

Anyway today at lunch time I bought a pair of shoes – stick with me, this is relevant, not just an excuse to talk about my (minor) shoe obsession. When I was paying I was asked if I would like to buy a sustainable bag to support charity. Great idea I thought, nice bag and buying it helps my counter my (very brief) consumer guilt by doing my bit for “charidee”. Then I thought, why couldn’t this idea be extended to conferences? So, if you had a burning need for a conference bag, you could buy one and the proceeds could go to charity. Would work for me . . .

NB – for more information on all bag related matters I would recommend having a look here.

7 thoughts on “Bags of innovation

  1. Of course, I left OR08 bagless – they’d run out of man bags…

    I am though in favour of usb sticks for delegates

  2. To be honest the only reason the bags get filled with the glossy flyers etc is financial – people are willing to pay to have them put in the bags and it brings in much needed income at a free conference – and great as the idea of USB sticks is (and god knows I’d much rather go down that route), they cost more money than they bring in..

    As soon as sponsors at events realise that noone takes much notice of all the stuff in the bags and thus stop paying the dawn of the bagless conference won’t be far behind!

  3. Right on sister! I’m getting increasingly pissed off with the junk handed out at academic conferences. There must be a better way for sponsors to get their message across – at the moment they’re just pissing me off, which I’m fairly sure is not the effect they’re after.

  4. I agree re all the advertising bumf, it is sad that this is indeed still a necessary evil financially.

    I am also against the handing out of yet more memory sticks- I already have a bunch of conference give-away ones and this is also a green issue- and the ones given away at conferences are generally too small in memory size to be much use to me later.

    You know what I like at a conference?

    – A nice bag that I can use again (because yes I do find them useful at the conference);
    – A good map and up-to-date programme that I can carry in my hand, scribble on and refer to while running down a corridor when late for a session;
    – A nice pen and a pad for taking notes on.

    All of these can now be made from recycled materials, and yes, I would be willing to pay a little to get them if the money was going to a genuinely good cause, because I know loads of people *don’t* use them.

    However, I think maybe many conferences would consider themselves to be a good cause. But when you know your organisation has already paid in the hundreds of pounds in some cases for conference fee, accommodation and transport this might stick in the craw a bit. For a free conference like some of the JISC ones: hell yeah.

    How about a green discount for those people who come to the conference by train or bus instead of by car or flying? (Unless they carpool with other delegates maybe). :-) Although I realise this is may sometimes be a bit unfair- what we really need is an affordable transport infrastructure that makes the train fare £20 and the plane fare £150 instead of the other way around! But this may be beyond our reach to develop as e-learning folks.

    Nice post, Sheila!

  5. Thanks guys for all the replies. I think this is something that will just go on and on. But hopefully small changes will start to be made. I’ll mention the transport thing to our management team, but I think you could be right Sarah – it might be a bit out of our reach:-)

    Sheila

  6. I’m with you on this Sheila, as you know we did quite well last year at the JISC CETIS conference, one sheet of paper and no bags, it was overwheloming apreciated by the delagates, could we go further this year ?

    I must say though that I have reused the JISC bag, used it for the visti to the greengrocers (now there is a concept) on Saturday morning and yes I walked there too with the dogs.

  7. I refused my bag, politely.

    If conference visitors all did this, and I’m not intending to incite action here, then the sponsors would need to be more creative.

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