Friday, February 25, 2005

Content/Access Preferences

"A national segmentation study conducted by washingtonpost.com in partnership with Nielsen/NetRatings and Scarborough has found that a rapidly growing number of Americans are increasing their use of online sources for news and information at the expense of other media."


This is the first paragraph of a press release on Yahoo! Finance (thanks to the Shore people for pointing to it). The rest of it is well worth reading and there's a link to a presentation on the full findings.

The study supports the trends we highlighted in both the Scan and the Information Format trends report: peoples' preferences for information consumption are leaning more and more towards web-accessible content.

Another item the Shore site points to is interesting as well. Written by a fellow who heads up a company called "Useability by Design" he makes this comment in his short piece: "It would seem that the general user population are starting to look more and more towards the search functionality rather than formal navigation structures in order to find information."

Boy, haven't I been jumping up and down about this for ages? Formal navigation structures are fabulous as long as they're invisible to people who don't belong to the priestesshood that invented the structures, and the lovely structures lurk in the background assisting the uninitiated. MARC records are terrific descriptions of our inventories but why show the specs for all the nuts, bolts and screws in our stores? And in my opinion, expecting people to "learn" subject headings as a navigation and discovery tool is not dissimilar to snobby garden catalogues that only refer to plants by their Latin names.

To quote Tom Peters (caps and all) the number one question should be (changed, of course, into appropriate library-speak) "HOW WILL THIS PROJECT ENHANCE THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE IN A WAY THAT WILL IMPLEMENT 'DRAMATIC DIFFERENCES' FROM OUR COMPETITORS SO THAT WE CAN CAPTURE NEW CUSTOMERS, RETAIN OLD CUSTOMERS & GROW THEIR BUSINESS, BUILD OUR BRAND INTO A LOVEMARK ... AND KICK-START THE 'TOP LINE'?" Not a bad question to ask ourselves, and by ourselves I mean we at OCLC, as well as all the "we" out there in Libraryland.

And, no. I am not going to comment on the Library Journal article of the President-Elect of the American Library Association, Michael Gorman. Lots has been said by others. I was motivated though to muse on satire and found this Gore Vidal quote:

"Laughing at someone else is an excellent way of learning how to laugh at oneself; and questioning what seem to be the absurd beliefs of another group is a good way of recognizing the potential absurdity of many of one’s own cherished beliefs."

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