Facebook Twitter Linkedin


My iConference 2014 Experience in Berlin

Armanda 'Mandi' Gonzalez, 2012 i3 Scholar

Armanda 'Mandi' GonzalezFrom March 4th through March 7th, I attended the 2014 iConference in Berlin, Germany. The iConference is held every year and how I understand it is that it brings together information professionals and scholars from around the world to showcase and discuss the current trends/ideas and research in the field of information science. As an i3 scholar, it was a unique experience given that most attendees are much older than our i3 cohort, especially since most of us are still undergraduates. Nonetheless, it was a great experience that I enjoyed along with my cohort!

I arrived the day before, extremely jetlagged, but excited and ready to go see the city. I got to see a lot of important landmarks, including pieces of the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, and more. The next day would be the official start of the conference, with an opening reception at the main building of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the school hosting the conference. This conference had a lot of interesting workshops, a lot to choose from in fact, but the ones that really stood out to me were the ones on information search & retrieval and information privacy.

What I really love about the iConference and information science in general is how interdisciplinary it can be. One research paper talk that really struck me was one involving a search and retrieval system for Traditional Irish music online. Another involved using an interactive explorative searching mechanism using subject headings from library books. I even attended an interactive session that focused on location-based socially-enabling apps like Grindr and Tinder and the effect they have on our off/online social networks. These were just a few of many paper talks that happened during the conference. But the conference wasn’t just about papers, of course.

The main reason I was there was to present a research poster during the poster session of the conference. Last year, through the iSchool Inclusion Institute, I participated in a year-long research project with three other students from across the country. At the finalization of this research we did, we decided to submit a poster abstract of our research to the conference. Our hard work paid off when we were notified that our abstract was accepted by the review committee.  In the end, the poster session became an amazing experience and probably the best part of the conference! My teammate and I were asked great questions about our research and at the same time we were exposing the issues that women face in the gaming industry (how women are inaccurately portrayed in console video games and their unfair treatment and unequal representation in the gaming industry/workplace).

As an information science major, I gained a lot from attending the conference, where I got to network with a diverse set of people and learn more about the recent happenings in my academic field. I also got experience presenting at a poster session and visited another country for the first time ever! I even had the unique opportunity of having a standing dinner at a natural science museum. This wouldn’t have been possible without the iSchool Inclusion Institute, UNC-SILS, and the Jon Curtis Student Enrichment Fund. Hopefully I can attend more conferences like these and students like myself can get to have this great opportunity to travel overseas for a conference of this stature and get travel for the cultural experience, too.