Archive | October, 2005

Librarians Mob Monterey Airport

The Monterey Airport was the place to be at 6:00 a.m. on Thursday morning following the conclusion of Internet Librarian 2005! As the long lines snaked toward the check-in counters and then security, waiting librarians mused about how much more quickly things might move if people who really know how to organize things were in charge, i.e., librarians! But at least the skies were clear, not foggy as earlier in the week, and the flights departed on time, carrying newly challenged and inspired Internet librarians back to libraries around the country.

What a week! We’ll be posting some wrap-up comments over the next several days.

Nancy Garman
Technorati/Flicker Tag:

Libraries Can Fight Back

Visionary and funny man, Stephen Abram first set the scenario with all the things that Google’s announced lately and its MANY initiatives – scary stuff! The company has bought 6 social networking companies. We let them read our e-mail and tell us what we want. Soon, Google will control all the ads, all the wallets, all the broadband,etc… So, in the closing keynote for the event, he provided his Top 10 Strategies for competing with Google. Sage advice in my book.

1. Know your market. He mentioned the Normative Data Project that aids market understanding. Know what’s circulating. Understand geographic use.
2. Know your customers better than Google – or you’ll lose. He mentioned the “Personas” project that helps in understanding needs, preferences, and desires of users. Check out the article in the latest Computers in Libraries. Educate yourself on the characteristics of “millennials” (“They can think rings around us.”) and also other populations, like older folks. Google does “satisficing” where librarians meet Real Needs.
3. Be where your customers are. How much of your usage is in person? What about IM?
4. Searching for the target… Federated search should not look like Google. Build compelling content – in CONTEXT!!!
5. Support your culture. Get your texthead to “nexthead.” Move beyond vinyl recordings. Adapt to video and streaming media. Podcasting. Start learning now!
6. Position libraries where we excel. Google does who, what, where, when, who, how questions really well. Google sucks at how and why questions. Libraries’ core competency is not delivery of information. Libraries improve the quality of the question. The question is what’s important. Libraries are an “exploration space” not a collection space.
7. Be wireless. The next massive wave of innovation will start in 2006/7.
8. Get visual. Explore visualization technologies, like Grokker. (Most librarians are text-based learners and it takes us longer.)
9. Integrate. Build community context first – learning, research, neighborhood, workplace, culture/entertainment.
10. For Pete’s sake, take a risk.

And, his last word – focus.
We, as librarians, have to learn that when we study something to death, Death was not our original goal. Pick something, do it well, and move on.

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief
Information Today, Inc.

Search Engines for the Future

A panel of engineers from, Google, and Yahoo! gave attendees a look at recent developments and some future plans for the search engines. DeWitt Clinton of, which is a subsidiary of Amazon, focused on the OpenSearch feature, introduced in March 2005. He says it basically offers a common format (currently RSS but in the future Atom and others) for information sources and engines to become searchable via The company likes the vertical search concept, and, as an aggregator site, now offers searching of more than 200 content sites—sources like Wikipedia, PubMed, and even the Seattle Public Library. Clinton said that Microsoft is building OpenSearch 1.1 directly into its next version of Internet Explorer.

Peter Norvig of Google talked about some of the recently implemented direct answers within Google, such as stock quotes and weather, and answers to fact-based questions (like “population of Japan”). Currently being developed in the Google Labs is a statistical machine translation product. “It’s not perfect yet, but it’s certainly very usable,” he said. He also talked about the satellite maps in Google Local and how people use common APIs to add data to the maps, such as the 911 call locations in Seattle.

David Mandelbrot of Yahoo! explained that FUSE reflects the company’s vision for search—Find, Use, Share, and Expand. He said one recent example of finding and using content is Yahoo!’s partnership with Creative Commons. The recently introduced My Web 2.0 is an example of social search. It lets users save pages, tag and annotate, and share with others. Finally, the company is Expanding with its involvement in the new Open Content Alliance—the digitization project that I blogged about earlier.

Mandelbrot talking, with Clinton on the left and Norvig on the right

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief
Information Today, Inc.

I Grok Pins

I found this Flickr picture of Groxis pins, in case anybody didn’t know what I was talking about in my Beyond Search Engines post earlier.

Marydee Ojala
Editor, ONLINE: The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals

BQ on the Google-brary

Many of us were disappointed last night during the Google-brary panel that Barbara Quint’s telephone contributions were so faint. So, she obligingly sent me some notes to post with her take on the topic at hand—here’s her year 2020 scenario.

Way back in 2006, Google — irritated at those lawsuits from the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers — set up Google Press. It then urged the authors of the world to check their publisher contracts, find the books that had gone out of print with publishing rights, come back to the authors and send copies of the books (or the ISBNs to match with Google library holdings) to Google Print. In return, Google would promise to delivery saleable e-books back to the authors and direct all interested users to them for sales — no royalty percentage, ALL the money for the sale.

Five years later (2011?), Google Press had become Google Full Court Press with imitator services available from the Open Content Alliance, Amazon, et al. Print-on-demand services and outsourced editorial staffs had made Google a major new avenue for book authors. All libraries received one free access seat for all books in the program, plus one free P-O-D copy on request. Book publishers were scrambling to hang on to their authors and re-negotiating royalty payments as all authors gained leverage from the developments.

Thanks, BQ!

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief
Information Today, Inc.

10K Wizard Light Pen Show at IL05

Check out Steven Cohen’s movie of the light pen show in the yesterday’s blog & wiki session.

Last-Minute Prep

Here’s Steven Abrams deep in thought as he trims his slide deck from 45 to 19 or so, around 2:00 this afternoon. But last I looked he was listening intently to yet one more conference session, so he’ll probably re-do the deck another time or two before his closing keynote begins at 3:45. See you there!

Nancy Garman
Technorati/Flicker Tag:

Beyond Search Engines

Here’s the next to last panel. According to John Dove, CEO of xrefer , there’s a Google Debate going on online, initiated by xRefer founder Adam Hodgkin. Now John’s wondering about the reference experience of the future and how gaming the system affects quality of results. He thinks that socially produced information changes the modalities of discovery and makes it difficult for researchers to know where to start.

Ryan Massie, senior product manager for Ask Jeeves , shows the newer, slimmer butler, but more importantly talks about how Ask is moving from keywords to concepts. His example is bears, which might be animals, investors, or a sports team. With Smart Search, you get different presentations of results, based on your previous search history. Teoma realizes on expert popularity, communities of experts, and on hubs and authorities. It allows for iteration. Jeeves would like to move people beyond the "ten blue links" experience.

Now it’s R.J. Pittman, CEO of Groxis , who’s showing a really cool way to visually see the books available on a topic at Barnes & Noble. His example is The Beatles. Groxis shows the covers of the books sorted by topic. "Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover," says R.J. You can adjust results by price and date, using sliders. Visualization makes information more accessible. This is part of Web 2.0. R.J. also shows a still-in-development project that Groxis is working on with Ask. Again, the concept of digital concept maps gives a new dimension to search.

As this session progresses, I’m pretty sure that if Groxis had had a little green button in its booth that said "I grok Ask," R.J. would have been wearing it. Likewise for Ryan, but his would have been "Ask groks Groxis."

This is the last session before Stephen Abram’s endnote talk.

Marydee Ojala
Editor, ONLINE: The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals

Should We Replace Our Intranet?

Well, maybe not yet, but it might be something to consider. Some companies have found that a blog or a wiki (or both!) serve their needs better, and they have replaced their Intranets. Darlene Fichter
of the University of Saskatchewan Library in Saskatoon gave a good outline of blogs and wikis in her presentation, “Fostering Collaboration With Wikis and Weblogs”. (Do you know where Saskatchewan is? My wife is a native of its capital city (What’s it called–a good question for a search engine), and when our son was born the people gathering the information for his birth certificate had never heard of it!)

The easiest way to think of blogs and wikis is to consider a blog as a personal Web publishing communication platform, and a wiki as a freely editable discussion. Darlene mentioned a recent survey of 250 companies, of which 90% were using a blog or planning to use one. Some of the uses of blogs included knowledge sharing, internal communication, project management, personal knowledge management, event logging, and team management. Some of those users found that the blog improved communication to the point that they replaced e-mail!

The Ann Arbor, MI public library has a blog and has found it to be quite successful. People are communicating (both library staff and users), and even the Library Director is blogging! Some library applications of blogs are posting common reference desk questions, status reports on the internal network, technical information questions, team and department or project committee communications.

Potential wiki applications include meeting notes, a repository of shared knowledge, collaborative writing, and training course communications. Many people are afraid of the free-flowing nature of a wiki, but some wiki software platforms allow limiting this capability; others provide for roll backs, viewing of editing history, and a recent changes page.

Darlene recommended an article by Emma Tonkin, “Making the Case For Wiki”, which provides an introduction to wikis and an excellent comparison chart of wiki software.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today

San Jose State U Director & Internet Librarians

Jane Dysart, IL Program Chair; Stephen Abram, IL speaker; Ken Haycock, San Jose State University School of Library & Information Science Director since August; and Christie Koontz, IL speaker, enjoying the SJSU SLIS gathering of students, faculty & friends.

And thanks to all the SJSU SLIS students who volunteered and helped Information Today with logisitics at this year’s Internet Librarian 2005!
Jane Dysart, IL Program Chair