Friday, June 25, 2004

OCLC Symposium: Dan Chudnov

I hope you were at the OCLC Symposium at the ALA Conference today (June 25). If not, I hope you'll check out the tape when it gets up on our web site. Two of the brightest lights in our field, Cindy Cunningham (Director of Cataloging for Corbis) and Dan Chudnov a programmer and librarian at the Yale Center for Medical Informatics, used the Scan as a launching pad for speculating about the future of the library profession. Their remarks were a thoroughly refreshing way to start the conference.

Cathy De Rosa, the OCLC VP for Marketing and Library Services, set up the program by posing two questions: How do we satisfy today's information consumer, who is fairly indifferent to traditional library services? And how do we satisfy today's information consumer, who has a nearly insatiable appetite for our information resources, but who wants to control their use? She gave a quick overview of the Scan and updated some of the information it contained, introducing the executive summary. Copies of the summary were available for attendees and will be available from OCLC shortly.

Dan Chudnov began his remarks by calling the E-Scan an "electric document." He said it "gives me a lot of hope that our profession is thinking about the right things." He used two themes for his comments: freedom and collaboration.

He talked about freedom in the context of the Open Source Software movement, which he described as "a philosophy of freedom first, and a business and engineering model second." Dan placed this concept into the context of the Scan by discussing the collaborative nature of open source. He talked about how OSS looks at and analyzes problems, about how it works in conjunction with and in opposition or reaction to proprietary software, and how it overcomes the fear of business failure. (Even if the original developers of an open source piece of software drop it, the source code is out there for anyone to work with, develop, and perhaps revive.

Dan then described "Hackfest," a preconference for the annual Access conference in Canada. A group of technologists and librarians get together, make a big list of technology problems they are working on, select several of the more pressing ones, and break into small groups to work out solutions. For 24 hours, they pound away at the problems and frequently come up with good ideas, which are then shared by the community. Dan compared this to the "Anatomy of a Gamer" slide you may have seen in the Scan or in our presentations.

Finally, Dan talked about the way people use information today. Not to take anything away from the traditional reference interview, Dan noted that discussions with a reference librarian are only one part of the user's interaction with the infosphere. He said that the infosphere continually surrounds us today, we can never completely walk away from it. Librarians need to understand their role in this environment if we are to be successful in it.

In my next post, I'll talk about what Cindy Cunningham had to say.

3 comments:

Alice said...

Cool, George!
Donna Gehring, the Manager and vision behind the OCLC conferences and exhibits, and I managed to miss the whole Symposium. So we'll definitely have to view it from the Web. Your synopsis is so helpful, thank you.

We are still setting up for tomorrow's exhibit opening. WebJunction reception starts now! Wish we were there!

-Alice and Donna

ruhan said...

We are still setting up for tomorrow's exhibit opening. WebJunction reception starts now! Wish we were there!

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