June 22, 2010
by Miguel Baltierra Assoc. AIA

Why a virtual convention? It reduces our carbon footprint, saves costs, allows us to continue working, or as Theresa Machito wrote, “I really appreciate being able to attend the convention CE courses from home because I have kids and am a single parent, need to fulfill AIA CEUs and LEED CEs. The ability to print out the certificates is great! Knowing that you can report the credits to the AIA is even better! Thank you so much for an excellent job.”

I gauged the online community’s diversity during “Global Design for the New Decade: A Discussion with the 2010 Gold Medalist,” counting 108 attendees from the U.S., Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East. I felt the final keynote was the best demonstration of the virtual interaction compared with other presentations throughout the convention. Peter Bohlin, FAIA, humorously responded to questions via Twitter and YouTube during his discussion with Architectural Record Editor-in-Chief Robert Ivy, FAIA. I especially enjoyed his encouraging words from afar inspiring me to continue pursuing excellence.

What’s changed since 2009? Joseph Cornacchia, AIA, wrote, “The exhibitors are starting to gear more toward their virtual audience. They are aware that we are out there.” Likewise he felt, “The virtual seminar format is better. Two screens, with the larger for visual media make for much better viewing.” Absolutely a blessing after watching other online presentations that did not display the visuals being presented! Adrieni V. Fox exclaimed, ” The web page is really easy to navigate and I felt like I was there, watching the presentation sessions. Also, the site allowed visitors to actually visit the Expo booths, download product brochures and information, and ask questions about products.”

However, according to William Arnquist, AIA, “There are a number of things that the virtual convention can never provide. 1) Hands on examination of materials in the Expo, and 2) Face-to-face meetings with old and new friends.” A directory of virtual attendees would have helped networking. Now you must spy on the “Who’s Here” tab at different times, checking to see what new names were present. My new online clan can watch 33 CEU hours of presentations and troll until June 2011. Sign up now (click here) to see what you missed.

Miguel Angel Baltierra, Assoc. AIA, is a senior aviation engineer and architect at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and a member of the AIANY Oculus Committee.


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