Bottom Line from Jim Ashling: I caught a bug at online!

Can you assess the state of an industry by attending a three day conference and trade show? Of course not, not when there are three simultaneous, conference tracks conflicting with a seminar program in six locations, with product launches, press briefings and receptions to choose between as well. It’s simply impossible to get more than a self-selected, personal view. The view is not so much an aerial shot of the entire playing field, but brief glimpses through the gaps and over the heads of the big crowd in front and all around you.

But after my few days as an internet blogger I’ve got a sneaky feeling that I’ve picked up the bug that’s going around – social networking. To me, the blog and other current developments such as RSS feeds, wikis and all the other collaborative tools, assist you, the reader, to get a broader view of what’s happening. The collective picture of this event from eight or so blog contributors, all with different interests, biases and motivations must give you a better feel for the totality of online 2005 than any single conference report published by only one of us in a magazine or newspaper.

This applies as much to the industry as a whole as it does to our corner of it at Information Today. The companies that are adopting and adapting these latest technologies, whether they are from the old established information industry or the new kids on the block, are the ones that have the exciting new products. Products that will see them through to the next upheaval, maybe a few years away, but more likely only months!

There are some great products out there and the best are those that are integrating information from multiple resources and using the latest tools for production and distribution. Some are from folks that have been around a long time, so don’t be predicting the dinosaur extinction yet again. Just take a look through the reports in the blog below and you’ll see plenty of examples.

So as far as I’m concerned, the folks that spend all their time defending one entrenched position against the opposite side (pro Google vs. anti Google, open access vs. subscription, expert cataloguing vs. community tagging etc etc) are simply falling behind those that are quietly getting on with it. Good luck to them!

Jim Ashling
Ashling Consulting
jashling@aol.com
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