The phony, the real phony, and the real: a Spotter’s Guide to #online09

Tomorrow marks the beginning of this year’s Online Information.

It is an event that I have been attending, on and off, for over a decade.

I remain fascinated by what people say about this event. It has the reputation of being something of a barometer of relevance for the online information industry. However, when the metaphorical glass has been tapped and the dial scrutinised, those observing the exhibition and seminar programme always seem to predict the same thing: stormy weather ahead for the online content resources, digital publishing, library and content management systems, search solutions and Web 2.0 constituencies it serves.

That may well be the case, but with the right partner who is prepared to weigh your mutual interests equally and looks to find their success through yours, there are always ways forward.

The question remains: how can you tell the genuine from the fake? In order to offer some assistance, I present you with a Spotter’s Guide to Online Information 2009 exhibitors.

The Phony exhibitor


  • likes the last word; also like the first word
  • not a good listener; in fact not a listener at all
  • fond of talking over, correcting, and smiling superciliously at interlocutors
  • earnestly believes their proposition is the only one you could seriously consider if you were a professional
  • has a high opinion of themselves; is dismissive of the competition
  • will be roundly abusing you verbally to colleagues before you get off their stand

The Real Phony exhibitor


  • would rather talk than listen, but disguises this by nodding a lot, and agreeing with everything you say
  • discharges volleys of buzz words and acronyms at every possible opportunity; has a 50/50 chance of being able to tell you what they actually mean
  • talks a lot about working together, but displays surprisingly little interest in your suggestions as to how you might do so
  • is probably promising you the same thing this year that they have failed to deliver on over the past twelve months
  • considers the value of your relationship to equate precisely with whatever they expect you to pay them in the next financial year

The Real exhibitor


  • is following you reciprocally on the social networks you use, and interacts with you in a way that suggest they not only listen to you, but understand your needs, likes, and dislikes
  • has sent you something, shared something with you, or otherwise reached out to you in the last 30 days
  • is someone you would describe as trustworthy
  • is someone who brings ideas to you to discuss as a partner rather than a vendor
  • is someone who you may feel comfortable spending time with outside of a strictly professional context
  • is someone you look forward to hearing from

Who are you seeing at Online Information 2009?

What are they seeing when they see you?

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