Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Discover, locate, request, deliver

I offer up a few loosely connected things that caught my attention in the last few days.

1. On Sunday night (Feb 6), as Alice has posted, Richard Madaus spoke to Members Council delegates about gizmos, and storage (this presentation will be available on the OCLC web site). He noted that portable computing will allow us to carry massive amounts of content around with us--as we've told you here, Thom Hickey of OCLC Research loaded all the WorldCat records on a 40G iPod and had space left over. Not the indexes or a search interface--just the records. Now, why any of us might want to carry Worldcat in our pockets escapes me just yet--although perhaps the very romance of carrying a goodly amount of documentary heritage in your pocket might be reason enough.

I can imagine that one reason I don't know why it would be All Good to have more bib records in my pocket than any library on the planet has is...because I am not under 30. In fact, amazingly (to me) I turn 50 in 2006. As I don't have children, I can only survey the real digital divide from afar but I am pretty sure that John "Got Game" Beck and others are correct...that the "digital natives" (as Richard Madeus called them) are fundamentally different from we (older) "digital immigrants", even those of us who are gizmo-savvy.

2. Just before I went to Montana, Cathy De Rosa (my boss, and VP of Marketing and Library Services), Chip Nilges (among other things, the guy in charge of the Open Worldcat project) and Lorcan Dempsey (VP, OCLC Research and blogger) had a meeting--the sort where lots of things get drawn on white boards. As we wrestled with some meaty topics Lorcan wrote the four words that are in the title (discover, locate, request, deliver) on the whiteboard as a list: search at the top and deliver at the bottom. Basically, and really generally, these are the main activities of a library and Lorcan suggests the task becomes more difficult and more expensive the further down the list one goes. We agreed that the first activity, "Discover" (or search) has in large part been taken away from the library community as its exclusive domain by search engines, and that perhaps we should all stop spending a lot of resources on this. More on this as we mull this over.

3. Here's another thing I'd like to leave behind: librarians talking about Google as "the competition". If that is so, Google has won and the implication that libraries lost is one I cannot agree with. Outsell Now comments on this in a posting about the SIAA Information Industry Summit:
"Google as the Devil" is no more. What is new is the event’s – and the traditional information industry’s – apparent new attitude toward Google (and by association, the rest of the open Internet as a force in the industry). No longer are businesses describing how they are protecting their turf from Google. Most are actively working with Google on some level, and more importantly, many are going way beyond that, working with other sites and channels that do not involve Google.

4. From the ZDNet blog, "Google as Mental Prosthetic." "Google may actually be nurturing a very different attitude toward life-long learning, and in so doing may be creating a fundamentally new kind of person--someone who's less patient, more inquisitive, less willing to take "No" for an answer and more certain of his or her facts." This echoes back to Richard Madeus asking if kids using handheld devices to find answers among themselves during tests is cheating or collaboration. Banning cell phones in libraries is not going to stop the merry-go-round, folks.


5. From the UK. CIE (Common Information Environment Group) is an interesting collaboration among what we called "libraries and allied organizations" in the Environmental Scan. There are 14 sponsoring or participating organizations ranging from The British Library, to the BBC, to JISC. Too bad we don't have a similar organization here in the US.

Last week, a CEI-commissioned report on trends on UK web use was released. From the press release: "A new MORI survey published today is the first to take a wide-ranging look at the issues of reliability of information found on the Internet, and the extent to which users feel they can trust the information they find there. The reputation of an organisation and the trustworthiness of the content of websites are important factors in people's attitudes, the survey found. Information provided via the websites of more established organisations such as museums, libraries and archives are most likely to gain a great deal or fair amount of trust from people. This is particularly the case in comparison to more commercial websites such as utility companies, travel agencies and Internet-only retail companies." The whole report is available as PDF.

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