By Maren Dougherty
Senior Editor, Balboa Park Online Collaborative
(Cross-posted from BPOC blog)
To some, he’s Geordi La Forge. To others, he’s Kunta Kinte. To ‘80s babies, he’s that guy from “Reading Rainbow.”
But LeVar Burton is also a champion for libraries and museums—and one of this year’s keynote speakers for the 2012 WebWise Conference, themed “Tradition and Innovation.” Sponsored by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the annual conference brings together representatives of museums, libraries, archives, education, and other fields to explore opportunities made possible by digital technologies. This year’s conference will be held in Baltimore from February 29-March 2, with LeVar speaking during the morning of Thursday, March 1.
When brainstorming possible keynote speakers, the WebWise planning committee didn’t start with IMDB. But as we starting compiling our list—jotting down authors, professors, and technology leaders—LeVar came to mind. He had visited several Balboa Park museums last year to develop video content for his RRKidz mobile app. The soon-to-launch app is designed to bring the spirit of “Reading Rainbow” to a new generation of parents and kids through iPads and other tablet devices. LeVar is also familiar with the mission and goals of the IMLS: in the 1990s, he served as a Commissioner of the National Commission on Library and Information Sciences, a federal agency preceding the IMLS.
At WebWise, LeVar will talk about the direction he’s going with RRKidz and the ways he’s using tablets to deliver an interactive storytelling experience. He’ll also share his thoughts about opportunities made possible by digital technologies, and the value of forming partnerships with museums, libraries, and other educational institutions.
His speech will set the tone for conference sessions focusing on a range of cultural technology-related topics such as data visualization, crowd-sourced content, and creation of oral history collections. All sessions are held in plenary for about 300 attendees. There is also a “pre-conference” day on February 29 with two half-day workshops and a full-day unconference.
Additional conference details are available online at www.imlswebwise.org. Registration is free but space is limited.