Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Human Touch---in Wired?

Wired magazine features nine "Wired Business Trends 2008" in April. Number 9 is called "The Human Touch: Algorithms are terrific, but to search smarter, find a person." The article is specifically about websites such as Brijit, which publishes summaries of 125 magazine and newspaper articles and audio and video programs daily, rating and classifying them so readers can quickly decide what's relevant; Mahalo, a "human powered search engine" that hires freelancers to compile search results; ChaCha, which offers live guidance on analyzing results; and Squidoo, which allows users to create their own pages on specific topics of interest.

These sites leverage the amazing abundance of the web to allow personality and individuality to emerge. So where are libraries in all this? Is there a way we can begin to capitalize on the fact that the web magnifies the importance of personalization? Why do we keep the vast majority of our services on such an impersonal level? The old verities simply don't hold water any more.

1 comment:

Patricia Martin said...

I, too, am puzzled. Mainly because I'm feeling a little jilted by my favorite librarian. Recently, I requested some assistance from her. I adore her because she is so smart, so kind and so nimble at finding golden nuggets of info. But she handed my request off to another librarian. I politley asked her why. She said the library preferred to circulate requests across the team, probably to share work load. But she's my favorite, I pouted to myself! So I think the challenge is that when the personalization of information occurs in libraries, it will invariably inspire loyalty--which implies an emotional bond between the patron and the librarian. What then?