Online Info 2008

Finally, some notes from the conference back in December.

The keynote was from Clay Shirky, who talked about spontaneous communities on the web (“Every Page is a Latent Community”). He made a key point that successful platforms are feature-light, but that community rules are the new complexity.

Another interesting point, made in response to a question form the floor, is that mixing amateurs and experts in online communities enriches both groups.

The original publishing metaphor – filter then publish – has become publish and then filter. He suggested the role of libraries should be to apply collaborative filtering and moving toward servicing communities rather than individuals.

I followed this up with the talk from Jenny Levine on the new media for libraries track. She gave a number of examples of academic and public libraries using web2 tools and widgets, including tweeting what users are borrowing and the promise of more social catalogue software such as bibliocommons. The idea of the participatory library was floated.

I then switched over to a series of talks on search optimisation and analytics. Tony Hirst from the Open University talked about course analytics as a way of determining student learning behaviour (with surprisingly long study sessions recorded – unless they were just Facebooking in another window he he). Susanne Koch from Pandia.com gave a good characterisation of online stories as rockets (interesting now), sleepers (catering to the long tail), late bloomers (suddenly popular by chance), honey pots (gateways), screwdrivers (tools) and pubs (social spaces). All backed with analytics data.

Other good talks I saw were on the changing role of the information professional. Dennie Heye talked about the seven skills of successful information professionals which emphasised the need to be proactive and persuasive. Shiela Corrall gave a really good talk on the hybrid professional, who can combine content, context and technology specialisms.

For me some useful content, then, albeit interspersed with people presenting technology and ideas we have all heard before rather too many times now..

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