The Faster I Go, The Behinder I Get

Keeping up is a major problem for most of us. We are being bombarded constantly by an avalanche of information on new web sites, information services, news, and other sources that we need to know about. How do people keep up? Gary Price and Rita Vines, two experts, told us some of their secrets. I won’t repeat the details here because Gary’s list of web sites and tools he uses is already on the Web. Rita’s slides will be up at the CIL conference site shortly. But here are some interesting general points I picked up from the session.

Gary’s thoughts:

Keeping ourselves current and keeping our clients current are two major tasks of many librarians. They have different emphases and must be approached differently. Unfortunately, there is no easy solution, and no perfect software for keeping up. So here are some strategies:

• Divide and conquer by setting aside a specific amount of time for keeping up.
• Don’t forget e-mail.
• Whenever possible, monitor the source, right down to the page level.
• Use a Web page tracker to monitor changes. There are several free ones available, and some of them can automatically alert you when changes occur. Kebberfegg by Tara Kalishain can check a number of services at once.
• RSS is a great tool, but don’t let it cloud your thinking about e-mail delivery.
• Don’t forget mobile technologies.
• Keeping current is about more than text; it also includes the spoken word or video.

Rita’s lessons learned:
• There is too much noise out there—“noise overload” exceeds even information overload. Look for restatement of data like press releases. If it’s mentioned over and over, that is probably a clue to overlook it!
• Pay close attention to optimizers and analyzers, especially blogs from optimizers.

Rita regularly tracks:
• New resource lists like ResourceShelf, ResearchBuzz, the El Dorado Public Library’s “What’s New On The Web This Week”, Marylaine Block’s list of new web sites, Librarian’s Index to the Internet (LII), and Infomine’s “What’s New” list.
• Optimizer blogs like Search Engine Lowdown, ISEDB.com, Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Roundtable, and blogs from search engine companies (although those are generally marketing sites), and publications by Greg Notess (columns in ONLINE, and searchengineshowdown.com).

Rita thinks there are now fewer good new tools for serious searchers, good sites are struggling or dying, and there is much more chatting, but less real information. Social networks are growing by leaps and bounds, but they aren’t quality content. It hasn’t been a good year for content because some funders are wondering why to support handpicked indexes.

These are all excellent pointers to help us with the overwhelming job of keeping with up with new developments in our field.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today

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