Organising Conservation’s first Twitter Conference #IconTC

In October this year Icon will host the first ever Twitter Conference dedicated to Conservation, and as the main organiser for the event, I wanted to share my thoughts on why I think these types of events are useful and indeed vital today.

Twitter Conferences are exactly as they sound: like a traditional event, there’s a programme and speakers give papers on specific topics. The only difference is that the conference takes place on Twitter: each paper must be composed of 12 tweets, and anyone can attend from their own desk (or sofa!).

The response to the call for papers for the event has been really exciting: we will have 4 keynote speakers and 53 papers, a brilliant result for the first Conservation conference of this kind. Our contributors include presenters from the UK, Canada, USA, Italy, Sweden, Qatar and Uruguay.

The Conservation subjects provide an exciting programme which covers both key issues and fascinating case studies: crime, fossils, taxidermy, marine objects, textiles, ethics, paper, photographic materials and public engagement just to name a few.

My main aim for this conference was to create an event which was inclusive and that anyone could have access to, either to participate or just watch, and which importantly offers the opportunity to showcase the amazing work of conservators to the general public. Funding for large conferences is often a issue for individuals without support from either grants (which are always competitive) or employers. Normal life commitments also mean that travelling long distances or staying away is not possible for everyone. Using Twitter allows people to participate without these barriers, and to either follow live or catch-up later when time is available: it also offers the opportunity for conservators and non-conservators alike to join from across the globe.

Using this platform will complement traditional conferences, particularly in times like these when the sector is facing significant funding challenges. I hope that people will participate by asking questions, sharing knowledge, making new connections or even just taking inspiration from the papers given on the day.

My thanks go out to Michael Nelles at Icon, Linda Spurdle at Birmingham Museums Trust for IT support and protecting us against twitter trolls, and Jenni Butterworth for logistical help.

#IconTC takes place on Friday 6th October 2017 from 9:15 BST. More information can be found here. Follow Icon on Twitter.