Adventures in Atlantic City

A month or so ago, I found out about a conference on the future of libraries being hosted down in Atlantic City. Since this is a topic I’m keenly interested in, I thought it would be a great chance to head down and see what the experts are saying are headed our way.

As always seems to be the case, the thought of going to a conference became less appealing the closer I actually came to the conference. Life is very busy, and it turned out actually getting to Atlantic City from Maine isn’t the easiest thing to do in the world. Airfare was expensive, and so I had decided to drive down. 8 hours. No biggie, right?

Well, I’m here now. Drove down on Sunday and will be heading back on Wednesday. The drive itself was actually quite pleasant. I listened to half of an audio book. (The Last Kingdom). And the conference itself has been remarkable so far. There was a keynote by hacker extraordinaire, Kevin Mitnick, that made me basically decide we’re all in deep trouble when it comes to security, and there’s nothing we can really do about it.

(How’s that for depressing? Seriously. He took a woman up at random from the audience and found her Social Security Number, home address, phone number, credit card numbers, and everything else about her. It took thirty seconds. He laughed about the Experian hack, saying all that stuff is already available online anyway. Then he showed us all how to clone digital entry cards, set up fake wifi networks, steal passwords, and generally wreck havoc. This stuff is very easy. No real answer to fix it, other than to keep a close eye on your personal bank accounts and report fraudulent activity as soon as you can.)

I’ve learned about library architecture, the Oculus Rift and virtual reality, upcoming trends in technology, and more. Really good stuff.

But it’s at the Borgata in Atlantic City. This is . . . not my thing. I had debated staying in the Fairfield Inn a few miles away, but I ended up going with the Borgata, figuring it would be easier to go to the conference. I really don’t like staying in an actual casino, however. I got to the hotel room, and there’s stylized pictures of naked women on the walls. (Not showing anything, and I suppose it’s supposed to be “classy,” but . . . me no likey.) The lobby is dominated by contrasts: huge, opulent displays of wealth. Flashing lights. Neon. And a whole ton of people staring at screens as they mindlessly push buttons at slot machines.

I’m not typically one to talk about bad vibes, but this place kind of makes me feel sick to my stomach. I don’t have any plans to ever come back. The one exception I could see myself making is if they have this conference here again in 10 years. Because it’s seriously that good of a conference. Though next time, I’ll stay at the Fairfield Inn.

I get that a lot of people dig the casino scene, but this is most definitely Not My Thing.

Looking forward to heading back to Maine . . .

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