In the interest of full disclosure, I’m open source and proud of it. Still, it’s hard to ignore the frenzy these days over iThings. The launch of the iPad may be what first springs to mind but if you’re getting ready to attend the annual meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons in late April, you should be thinking iTouch (officially the Apple iPod Touch).
If you’re an AANS member, you’ll be getting one at the meeting. According to the association, “instead of a 165-page final program book and briefcase-size bag weighing just under 2 pounds, they will be receiving the Apple iPod touch and a convenient lightweight nylon pouch with neck strap to house it.”
That’s right. The 2-inch thick abstract book is gone. Please try to contain your glee. This is hardly new. Many medical organizations have been offering program and abstract books on CDs or flash drives for a while now. It was the adoption and gift of a single technology at a medical meeting that raised a lot of interesting questions in the newsroom—not the least of which was “do reporters get one too?” [In a word, NO. Press will get CDs or access to iPods in the press room. Good. No need to worry about that whole conflict of interest thing.]
Curious about how all this was going to work, I called the media relations department at AANS and spoke with Betsy van Die, director of communications. The big question: Who is paying for this? According to Ms. van Die, part of the money comes from registration fees and corporate sponsorship, though she decined to give any specifics.
So what’s special about the AANS iPod? Of course, it will be loaded with the program book and abstracts. There are special tutorials available online. Members will have the ability download and listen to meeting podcasts, message other members, and vote in polls during some presentations and sessions. It’s all very hip.
Of course, advertisers and exhibitors can get in on the fun too. The association has lined up special advertising and marketing opportunities—splash ads, banner ads, stand-alone icons on the patrons page, exhibitor website listings, videocasts, podcasts, eBlasts, and sponsorships of iPod accessories (cases, chargers, iTunes cards to distribute at booths).
The initiative to embrace new technology comes from AANS leadership. Dr. Michael Oh—who heads the AANS iPod task force—pitched the idea. (Read the Philadelphia Inquirer’s story on the birth of this intiative) A member survey followed with positive results and the rest, as they say, is history.
As for those who might prefer not to use iAnything…well, they’re on their own. When I asked about this, Ms. van Die told me “well, they’ll just have to learn to use the iPod.”
Don’t be shy. We want to know what you think about the iMeeting.
—Kerri Wachter (@knwachter on Twitter)