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With dozens of instructional sessions and almost 300 exhibitors at the SLA conference, attendees found enough exposure to a variety of technology and innovations to give them an edge in the current specialized library marketplace.

Here’s just a taste of some of the presentations and products found:

c The 10-month-old Courtroom Live (www.courtroomlive.com) displayed its browser-based, real-time, video-streaming service that offers access to 90 percent of the state court trials in the U.S.

John Shin, managing director of the New York-based company, said the service grew out of wiring courtrooms for Internet access and finding a way to quickly deliver digital court transcripts.

With its wide selection of civil and product-liability trials - also archived - Courtroom Live’s current appeal is to legal firms for training and hedge funds looking for an edge in volatile markets.

The clever piece of the service is a proprietary server setup that captures evidence presented in the court and displays it on a user’s screen alongside the video streaming. Mr. Shin said the subscription-based service can be set up for as little as $2,000 per year.

c It was a bit of an eye-opener to find out SLA is so hip these days that it has its own space in the Second Life virtual world. So it seemed a natural progression to find a couple of sessions devoted to the world of learning through computer gaming.

First, former laser physicist and now Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency project manager Ralph Chatham presented his trials and successes in developing military training simulations for U.S. soldiers.

The DARWARS initiative back in 2004 led to the creation of the multiple video games that helped train more than 20,000 soldiers in 2006 alone.

Of his efforts, the Tactical Language Tutor is a culture assimilator that teaches Arabic by challenging users through language lessons. It also takes them into real-world scenarios using digitized characters and even keeps their skills sharp with a Pac-Man-style game.

Mr. Chatham’s first-person, multiplayer game Ambush is much more intense and uses the Unreal Tournament game engine to give soldiers a virtual three-dimensional look at hostile missions in Iraq and teaches them how to survive before ever driving on a real road in Baghdad.

Mr. Chatham’s enthusiasm with the video game as a learning tool comes down to its ability to easily teach complicated, nonintuitive behavior and the way it forces players to think about problems at a system level.

Next, Elizabeth Lane Lawley, the director of the Lab for Social Computing at the Rochester Institute of Technology, explored the phenomenon of how gaming produces the online rebound.

Basically, humans interact in a virtual world and then strive to turn digital back into tactile. Miss Lawley said that explains the popularity of Nintendo’s Wii - a tangible way to interact with virtual worlds - and why Moo.com, a photo printing company friendly with social networks such as Flickr and Facebook, is so popular.

Miss Lawley also believes game developers are a lot like librarians as they classify, disseminate and determine how knowledge is found.

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