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AAA Annual Meeting Mobile Application: A Brief Survival Guide

Before we begin, a little bit about myself: my name is Andrew Russell, and I began working for the American Anthropological Association in early August.  I came from an anthropological background, and will be the first to admit I had no idea what really went on at the AAA on a daily basis. Now that I’ve stepped “behind the curtain” I am amazed by how efficient and passionate the AAA staff is. Now in my third month, I realized it might be a good opportunity to take a journey with the many members of the AAA, and anthropologists in general.  What does it take to run an academic association? What goes on, on a monthly basis?

As you can imagine, with the November Annual Meeting looming over us, October is a hectic month for the meetings department. Anything that has been waiting to go wrong, has been waiting for October.  But fear not— your trusty meetings department at the AAA is on the case.

October marks the finalization of the program and abstract.  In recent years AAA has sought to bring a more holistically green approach to the meeting, one way is to cut down on the amount of printing we do(It also saves you money). I can assure you, however, we worked tirelessly to make these behemoths the best quality they can be.  That means, putting together a cover design that both represents the wonderful city we are guests of and the meeting itself.  This year we went with the iconic lion statues of Chicago. No offense to Bean lovers, but it’s a good fit, lacking in what I had assumed might come off as regal iconography.

But what is to replace the program?  A mobile application of course, a feature which will hopefully be recurring for meetings to come.  For those of you who have been coming to these events for a while, you may recall (try to forget for us) there was a mobile app a few years ago.  This is certainly not that mobile app, and its features are vastly improved.

The mobile app will be available for Android and iPhone/Pad users, downloadable from their respective stores for free. But what will be included in it, you might wonder. The simple answer is: everything. Everything you might need for the conference at least.

The mobile app is broken up into six sections which I will go over briefly here.

screenshot_1Agenda: This menu will display list of sessions for each Date, as well as a Program sorted alphabetically. Selecting a date will list the sessions for that data. Selecting a session will navigate to the session details screen. The session location will link to a floor plan provided by AAA. After viewing a session, you can add it to your schedule, which will store it on the mobile app. And of course, you can share session information amongst anyone else who has the mobile app— sending a message to their registered email.
Exhibitors: while this might not affect many folks, it’s important to note that a huge reason the AAA is still able to develop these meetings is because of support from exhibitors.  They often come to the Annual Meeting to show off the latest in technological advances and ideas.  The exhibitor section of the mobile app will provide you with names, dates, and map layouts of where to find exhibitors.

Attendees: This will display a list of attendees. This list will display attendee name (first, last) and company name, attendee name sorted alphabetically on last name.  Sorry— you can’t stalk your professor, attendees’ email address and phone number are not displayed until the attendee has turned on display of email address and/or phone number under his/her privacy settings. A search will be available on the attendee list to search for attendees within name and company. That being said, the mobile app will act as a messaging device within the meeting. You’ll be able to send a message via the attendee detail screen.  You can also request an appointment through a similar manner.
Information: Here is where you’ll find the FAQ for the meeting.  Ideally, this will answer every question you could possibly want to know about the annual meeting. The questions were collected from our staff, so I’m sure we’ve missed a few things.  During the meeting, we’ll provide you with an email address to send further questions— who knows, your question might be confusing enough that we put it up on the FAQ.  FAQs thus far include, getting to the meeting, workshops, installments, student Saturday, and an in-depth explanation of the mobile app itself (hey you never know).

Announcements: Announcements will be a quick and easy way for the AAA to get information out to you.  This could range from a fire alert to free pizza— so make sure not to ignore these notifications.

screenshot_2My Meetings: The nexus of everything to mobile app has to offer.  Here you can view appointments and sessions added to your schedule and remove items from said schedule; this included free form additions.  Your schedule will also be updated periodically based on information you have provided the AAA. This section will also include appointments, where you can view appointment requests and approve or deny requests and also view status of your own requests.  For those of you who might be a little more disorganized (or who just like to be really on top of things) we also provide you with a To Do List. Here you can view the exhibitors added to your To Do List and remove items from the To Do list. As with the appointments, this can be free form items.  My Meetings will also include the messaging system used to contact anyone else with the mobile app. Last but not least, you will also have access to
“My Profile.” Where you can control which email notifications you receives (appointments, messages, announcements). Ability to view email address and phone number is turned OFF by default.

Hope this clears things up. The mobile app is currently available for android and iPhone users and can be picked up at the iTunes store here: https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=692800377&mt=8

Of course, this is really our first go at the mobile app experience, and it’s an evolving process– so feel free to suggest corrections by sending them to aaameetings@aaanet.org.

The Annual Meeting is only a few weeks away, come prepared!

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