The OAH/NCPH meeting may have free WiFi this year, but there has been one significant hurdle for digital historians, bloggers, and Twitterstorians here in Milwaukee to overcome: the extremely user-unfriendly electrical design of the Frontier Airlines Center. Tenured Radical may be right about the bland generic-ness of conference centers and hotels across the country (though at least Frontier makes use of ample natural light), but for users of wireless devices, function must take precedence over function. Unfortunately, almost all of the session rooms this year lack the basic function of standard electrical outlets; instead, they use a twist-lock design, which is incompatible with laptop and phone chargers. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, for users of wireless devices to charge them during sessions. There are converters located at the podium, but these are generally for the use of panelists.
A twist-lock electrical outlet.
These outlets, say Frontier Center staff, were part of a deliberate design decision when the building was constructed in 1998 to prevent unauthorized access to the building's power grid within meeting rooms. This was at the very cusp of the wireless age when the paramount concern presumably was preventing hosted conventions and media outlets from free access, before the proliferation of laptops, Smartphones, and other power-hungry wireless devices.
There are standard outlets in the hallways, though for digital historians attending back-to-back sessions, beware! Your computer may run out of juice halfway through.
So, kudos to the OAH/NCPH for the free WiFi, but to architects and developers of conference spaces, I say, "Shape up!" Even relatively new convention halls can quickly become obsolete in the digital age.