Archive | November, 2011

Real-Time Mobile Search

Steve Arnold

Well known search guru Steve Arnold moderated this interesting panel on mobile searching.

Mobile searching panel (L-R): Gregory Grefenstette, Antonio Valderrabanos, Benoit Leclerc

Gregory Grefenstette, Chief Science Officer, Exalead, began with a description of search-based applications for mobile platforms.  Mobility is no longer a choice. It is “everyware” (analogous to hardware and software).  Mobile is the primary platform of engagement of information for consumers and users. According to a Forester report, enterprise mobile workers will represent 73% of the US workforce by 2012, and by 2013, there will be 1.2 billion mobile workers in the world, accounting for 35% of the global workforce.  By next year, you should no longer be asking what your mobile strategy is. Mobile working is not like playing; workers want to have everything available in a single application.

We carry a computer all day long, along with our wallet and keys. In 59 countries, there are more active mobile subscriptions than people. Last year, 6 trillion texts were sent! 32% of adults prefer text. Mobile is now a dominant force. The average teen sends or receives 3,339 text messages every month! That equates to 14 hours of attention to texting per month! The average user gives attention to text messaging is 150 times a day, which equates to once every 6.5 minutes. Any device that people are looking at every 6.5 minutes is very important!

The most popular mobile application is Google Maps, followed by weather, and Facebook.  In the shopping area, the average time for consumers to decide to make an online purchase is 1 month; for mobile platforms, the average decision time is 1 day. And when a mobile is lost, it takes only 1 hour on average to report it.

Because of the rise of mobiles, the balance of power has moved from TelCo operators to app developers, and handset manufacturers have lost control over the information experience.

 The mobile platform has become completely open. Most phones now being sold are smartphones. By 2013, we can expect that most people will be able to consume information and use apps.  Here is a view of the mobile services ecosystem.

“Experience platforms” are where people spend their time online, the most popular of which by far is Facebook.  We are now in a “doing” environment; mobile has moved from talking and texting to other things using apps.

The top criteria for selection of a phone are its operating system and the selection of apps available.

The computer we carry now is more than just a computer. It has senses–sight, touch, motion, direction, sound, and touch. This enables us to make sense of the world. (Google Googles can detect faces, for example, and Facebook has integrated this technology.)

The Internet will become the Internet of Things, where there an API for everything. Intel has predicted that everything that can benefit from being connected will be connected by 2020. We can now gather vast amounts of data and process it in a real-time stream processing of unthinkable amounts of data. The web will be no longer static where we used to pull down documents but will become one where will consume information in real-time. It has become the “right-time web”. Our thinking is being aided by the devices we carry.

Information is shifting from document-centered to distributed to linked and streaming real-time data. There is a huge shift in the way that IT is being thought about. New types of data are emerging and replacing the old transaction-based data. Information can now be tailored and made contextual.

See Golding’s slideshare site for more resources.

John Barnes, Incisive Media UK, told us what we know to design for mobile platforms.  He noted that by 2013, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common web access device worldwide. Mobile is part of a ‘multiscreen’ life, in which we have a growing number of screens in our lives.  Anyone building a digital service will need to provide for an effective experience across many devices, which Barnes called “polymorphic” publishing.  There are 3 types of polymorphic publishing:

Digital publishing is all about the audience and content, not the technology. For many years developers looked at average screen sizes and aimed at that in their work. Size has increased and has splintered into many sizes, so one can no longer design to a single average size.

m.editions of websites provide full integration with a content management system. Specially optimized templates can be served to the user depending on the mobile platform they use.  This has the advantages of being able to use the same domain name for different platforms and integration with a variety of systems. There is no clear leader in operating systems for browser-based apps, but the iPhone and iPad are extremely popular.

Many people want to have an app; here are some development criteria for developing one. Note that commercial requirements are major drivers of the choice of apps.

Key findings:

  • There is a high propensity for sharing, so subscription and search services do well.
  • User behavior is changing.  They are always “on”, so it is critical that apps are easy to use.
  • Much web content is not ready for the shift to mobile yet because much of it was developed to be used on desktops with big screens.

Sheila Fahy, an attorney at Allen & Overy LLP, described her experiences in bringing one of the first legal apps (The Little Red App) to market.

Why are we all downloading apps? We like them because we are comfortable with them. The Little Red App was to bring employment legal facts into a single place. It took 2 months to bring it to market and cost £19,000. It is free to download; from its launch inJune 2011, it has been downloaded 837 times, 760 of which came from the UK.

Lessons learned:

  • Keep it simple. Everybody wants to do an app. Recycle something you already have. Don’t try something complex because it will be expensive to produce.
  • Don’t give away your “crown jewels”.
  • Have a business plan.
  • Keep the development team small, flexible, and diverse. Deconstruct the information and work out all the links and actions needed. Draw out every screen.
  • If you have a lot of words, an app is not for you, so you should think of something different.
  • Brand is hugely important.
  • Do as much preparation as possible before you involve the developers.
  • Build in lots of testing time.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor

How Westminster Abbey Created Worldwide Audience Engagement Around the Royal Wedding With Online and Social Media

Imogen Levy

Imogen Levy, Online Editor, Westminster Abbey, gave us a fascinating look at the preparations for the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29, 2011.  The Abbey staff had one hour’s advance notice ahead of the public of the selection of the Abbey as the venue for the wedding and dropped all other projects to redesign the Abbey’s website and build an app for the wedding.

The Abbey is a “royal peculiar” meaning that it comes directly under the administration of the Queen.  It is both a living church and a tourist attraction and is known as the church of the monarchy.  It has hosted 16 royal weddings and all Coronations since 1066.  Over 3,000 people are buried or memorialized in the Abbey.

The Royal Wedding was the biggest event of the year. There were many unanswered questions, lots of pressure, and nothing previous for comparison.  Flexibility and confidence were crucial.  Since the lead time was only 6 months, decisions had to be made quickly.  Levy worked with the Buckingham Palace web team and hosts of website to redesign the Abbey website.  The questions to be answered included how many people would access the site, what devices would they use, should the Abbey website capture these new audiences, how should social media be exploited, and what will be the impact on the hosting organization.

New media played a huge and significant role in the success of the event; this was the wedding of the Internet generation.  The Royal Wedding has been confirmed as a record breaker, with over 72 million views and the most live streams of a single event.

The website was developed using an open source content management system. Levy recoded the website herself to accommodate mobile devices.  The design is responsive and automatically adjusts to user’s device, allowing a single template to be used for all devices. On wedding day, mobile access was 20% of entire hits (normally it is about 5%).  Mobile access to the Abbey site has increased 900% over the last 12 months.

The hosting was changed cloud hosting so as to be scalable and elastic and to cope with a sudden spike in traffic.  This had the advantages of:

  • Ability to scale without needing to pre-plan usage.
  • Ability to scale costs–pay as you go with no upfront costs.
  • Ability to set up the solution in a few hours.

Cloud hosting was very successful. On the wedding day, the site received 5,000 hits/second and went down for only about 3 minutes during the day. There were over a million page views during the service.  Users were able to access the site quickly and efficiently.

 

Levy also launched an app allowing a 3D view of the Abbey. She took photos of behind the scenes preparations and used a laser scanner to produce a 3D model of the Abbey accessible on a phone (Abbey 3D) and is now working on v.2 to incorporate audio guide and website.

Levy did live tweets on the wedding day which gave people unusual content and received lots of media coverage. She followed the principle that if you are going to have a Twitter account, make it fun and give it personality. She responded live to people during the service. The Twitter feed went from 2,000 to 13,000 followers in 5 minutes.

Here are the lessons learned from this effort.

 

 Future work includes:

 

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor

Meeting the Mobile Challenge

Panel--Meeting the Mobile Challenge: (L-R) Paul Golding, Sheila Fahy, John Barnes

Paul Golding, CEO of Wireless Wanders, led off this panel on the mobile challenge with a presentation entitled Tour of the Mobile Ecosystem.  He noted that mobile is “everyware” (analogous to hardware and software).  It is now the primary platform of engagement of information for consumers and users, and by next year, you should no longer be asking what your mobile strategy is.

We carry a computer all day long, along with our wallet and keys. In 59 countries, there are now more active mobile subscriptions than people. Last year, 6 trillion texts were sent at a rate of 200,000 per second! 32% of adults prefer text. The average teen sends or receives 3,339 text messages every month, which equates to 14 hours of attention to texting/month! The average user interaction rate is 150 times/day; once every 6.5 minutes. Any device that people are looking at every 6.5 minutes is very important!

The most popular mobile application is Google Maps, followed by weather, and Facebook.  Mobile applications are widely used in shopping; 52% of smartphone users change their minds in a store. The average time to decide on a purchase online is 1 month; on a mobile platform, it is 1 day. And when a mobile is lost, it takes only 1 hour on the average for its loss to be reported.

In the mobile environment, the balance of power has shifted from TelCo operators to app developers. Handset manufacturers have lost control over the information experience.

Mobile Balance of Power

The mobile platform has become completely open. Most phones now being sold are smartphones, and by 2013, we can expect that most people will be able to consume information and use apps.

Golding’s model of the mobile services ecosystem appears above. “Experience platforms” are where people spend their time online. The most popular one by far is Facebook. Mobile has moved from talking and texting to other things using apps. We are now in a “doing” environment.  The top criteria for selection of a phone are its operating system and app selection.

The computer we carry now is more than just a computer. It has senses–sight, touch, motion, direction, sound, and touch. This enables us to make sense of the world. (Google Goggles can detect faces, for example and Facebook has integrated this technology.) We can now interact with the world in real time using handsets.

The Internet will become the Internet of Things. There an API for everything. Intel has predicted that everything that can benefit from being connected will be connected by 2020. We can now gather vast amounts of data and process it in a real-time stream of unthinkable amounts of data. The web will be no longer static where we used to pull down documents but will become one where will consume information in real-time. It has become the “right-time web”.

Information is shifting from document-centered to distributed to linked and streaming real-time data. There is a huge shift in the way that IT is being thought about. New types of data are emerging and replacing the old transaction-based data. Information can now be tailored and made contextual.

See Golding’s Slideshare site for more resources.

John Barnes, Managing Director of Digital Strategy and Development at Incisive Media, discussed designing for mobile devices.  By 2013, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common web access device worldwide. Mobile is part of a ‘multiscreen’ life.  The multiscreen revolution represents the growing number and diversity of screens in our lives.  Anyone building digital experiences will need to deliver effective experience across many devices–“polymorphic” publishing.

For many years developers looked at average screen sizes and aimed at that in their work. Size has increased and has splintered into many sizes, so one can no longer design to a single average size. The challenge facing publishers is the huge explosion in competing devices, operating systems, and digital publishing channels.  Digital publishing is all about the audience and content, not the technology.

Types of Polymorphic Publishing

Types of polymorphic screen life include multi-tasking, synchronous, and linear. Publishers are more interested in synchronous and linear than multitasking.

Here are some general criteria for developing an app. Commercial requirements drive the choice of apps.

Key findings: There is a high propensity for sharing, so subscription and search services do well. User behavior is changing–their devices are always on, so it is critical that apps are easy to use. Much web content is not ready for the shift to mobile yet because much of it was developed to be used on desktops with big screens.

Sheila Fahy, an attorney at Allen & Overy, LLP, described how she developed one of the first legal apps, The Little Red App, and brought it to market.

What is so special about apps? Why are we all downloading them?  We like apps because we are comfortable with them. The Little Red App was to bring employment legal facts into a single place. It took 2 months to bring it to market and cost £19,000. It is free to download. Launched in June 2011, the app has been downloaded 837 times, 760 of which are from the UK.

Lessons learned included:

  • Keep it simple. Everybody wants to do an app. Recycle something you already have. Don’t try something complex because it will be expensive to produce.
  • Don’t give away your “crown jewels”.
  • Have a business plan.
  • Keep the development team small, flexible, and diverse.
  • Deconstruct the information and work out all the links and actions needed. Draw out every screen. If you have a lot of words, an app is not for you, so you should think of something different. Nobody will read the small print–think of layering it.
  • Brand is hugely important.
  • Do as much preparation as possible before you involve the developers.
  • Build in lots of testing time.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor

 

Online Conference Opens; Keynote by Craig Newmark Focuses on Social Media

The Online Information conference opened this morning to an enthusiastic crowd of attendees.  Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist and CraigConnects, gave the opening keynote address.

Craig Newmark

A self-confessed nerd, Newmark began by noting that as such you get a feeling of separation or being disenfranchised, so he resolved that any of the work he did would be about inclusion, or bringing a voice to people who did not have one.  In 1994, he was at Charles Schwab & Co. showing people about the Internet and noticed that people would help each other. In early 1995, he wanted to do something similar and started a simple mailing list in San Francisco telling people what was going on. People started sending events to put on his mailing list, and it grew by word of mouth. Friends told him that he had inadvertently created a brand, but as a nerd, he did not know what a brand was! He called it craigslist to keep it personal and quirky.

Craigslist is not altruistic, and very little of the site is monetized. The main areas incurring charges are job posters and apartment brokers in New York City (who asked to be charged as an enforcement measure). The Craigslist business model is to do well by doing good.  And it works:  the site receives over 60 million unique visitors and has 40 billion page views per month. Because it is a privately developed site, there are no CPM issues, and there is no requirement to report to advertisers.

As the site grew, Newmark hired a CEO and concentrated on customer service as a profession. This is important because it keeps you in touch daily with your constituency. People want a voice and want to be listened to. Newmark found that people running socially good organizations and nonprofits started asking him for help, particularly with social media. When people are connected to the internet, it gives them a voice and a power they did not have before.

Newmark listed the nonprofits he was involved with and found there were about 100. So he started CraigConnects to stand up for the causes he believes in. He wants to help everyone to be connected for areas of common interest.

Here are some of the causes that CraigConnects works on:

  • Military veterans and their families who need medical treatment or educational benefits. Many organizations want to help but do not communicate with each other. CraigConnects helps veterans collaborate, find support groups, and get jobs.
  • Public diplomacy: micro finance and internet connectivity in the West Bank of Palestine to provide small loans to people who need them. The loans are used to help people get into business and provide jobs. The repayment rate is much better than at US banks.
  • Some nonprofits spend their resources on themselves. CraigConnects works with Guidestar, a service which rates financial effectiveness of the nonprofits using such criteria as accountability, transparency, how much of the funding gets to the clients, and how well the organization meets the needs of its client population. It also lists which nonprofits get the job done — or do not get it done, even to the point of running outright scams. Measuring nonprofits will help restore trust in the nonprofit world.
  • Creating trust in the press:  The press should be the immune system of democracy. The US press had a history in which they created trust by fact checking, employing ethical practices etc. But recently, fact checking has been discarded as being too expensive and time consuming. People want news they can trust. Organizations such as Politicfact or Factcheckhave professional networks of fact checkers. CraigConnect is also working with the Center for Public Integrity which has citizen journalist contributors. Newmark envisions that we will have networks of networks of citizen fact checkers adding facts to databases so that reporters can check facts quickly, almost in real time. He sees his role as annoying everyone in the news industry by bringing back fact checking.

When you use social media, you are relying on someone else to distribute your message, so there is no unified message. Social media is not new; it is just about people talking to each other. New technologies allow you to address a larger audience. For example, Luther used Gutenberg’s technology to spread his message, and St. Paul used a network of churches (“epistle-mail”). Today, people in the Middle East and North Africa are using these technologies very powerfully in the Arab awakening. Social media works to help people create revolutions and accelerate the trend.

Nonprofits should have Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, and Google+ circles. Links to their posts should go directly to readers.  We are living in a decade of much social change that formerly took centuries but is now compressed into a decade, which causes disruption. We can all play a part of this.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor

 

 

 

 

Online Information Getting Ready to Go

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Online Information 2011 was a beehive of activity this afternoon as the exhibit hall was being set up and prepared for tomorrow’s opening.  Keep checking here for developments as this important event unfolds.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor

 

 

Exhibit Hall Setup Activity

 

...And More

Watch for “Live From London” Next Week

:london:

“The Conference Circuit” is taking the rest of this week off in observance of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.  Next week, I will be in London, covering the 2011 Online Information conference.  Watch for continuing coverage here.

To our U.S. readers, Happy Thanksgiving!

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor

BOBCATSSS Program Announced

The program for the 2012 BOBCATSSS conference is now available here.  This conference is noteworthy because it is organized by students from several European universities (the acronym is derived from the names of the universities).  The 2012 theme is “Information in E-motion”, and the dates are January 23-25.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor

 

Report on DataContent Conference

Below is an e-mail message that I received from InfoCommerce about their recently concluded DataContent conference, which took place in Philadelphia, PA earlier this month.   Although the conference theme was “Crowd, Cloud, and Curation”, it turned out that “Mobile” should have been added.  Interesting!

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor

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masthead
InfoCommerce Group Novermber 11, 2011
You Had to Be There!

The theme of this year’s DataContent Conference was “Crowd, Cloud and Curation.” But in addition to those big themes, another word cropped up in almost every session: mobile. The excitement around mobile was palpable, and there seemed to be general agreement that tablet devices are already starting to have a significant impact on the industry, and a largely beneficial one, provided publishers embrace the tremendous shift to mobile online access and start to leverage the power of these new devices. My view? As a reliable skeptic, you might expect some push-back, but I’m fully on board. Mobile devices, tablets in particular, are rapidly changing how users access data, and even how they do business. This creates opportunities in some markets, but more fundamentally, it means publishers cannot allow themselves to be left behind as usage patterns and user expectations for data products begin to radically shift.

Our keynote speaker, Clare Hart, CEO of Infogroup, nicely set the stage for the sessions that followed by noting that to maximize the value of data, “you have to innovate around it.” This well sums up the InfoCommerce Group view that data publishers need to focus on “data that does stuff,” not simply providing mountains of raw content from which users are expected to find and extract value on their own. Clare illustrated this with a sneak peak at a soon to be launched Infogroup product called Yesmail Marketing Intelligence that will provide remarkable competitive intelligence to marketers, coupled with a powerful user interface and real-time alerting.

Among our 2011 Models of Excellence nominees, we got in-depth looks at two barely-launched ventures: BestVendor, which is doing some exciting work in social discovery, and First Stop Health, a new data-driven health concierge service. We also got a good overview of FeeFighters which matches businesses to credit card processing services, an area that’s gotten a lot of attention lately.

We also learned about newly launched Chaikin Power Tools, which integrates mountains of data and sentiment analysis into a simple, elegant buy/sell indicator for investors. We also heard from another startup, Brilig, which lets online marketers precisely tap specific market segments, precision that’s been sorely lacking to date. Resolute Digital and b2bAnywhere confirmed the stampede to mobile in our session on that topic, and gave us some useful thinking on how B2B mobile will evolve.

Anne Holland of Subscription Site Insider presented some preliminary findings from a study conducted in conjunction with InfoCommerce Group on paid subscription product renewal rates and retention marketing best practices. In our always popular “Excellence Revisited” Wanted TechnologiesAlacra andAgencyFinder offered candid assessments of what went right – and wrong – with products that had previously won them our Model of Excellence award. The level of candor, as always, was incredibly insightful.

Also insightful were presentations from DonorBase and The Praetorian Group and our own Janice McCallum who offered specific revenue generating ideas with potential applicability to many in the audience. And we also got helpful case studies fromDepository TrustPDR Network and ZoomInfo about what’s involved in launching a new data product inside a company that’s not in the data business, and how to successfully re-position existing data businesses that have lost their way.

We also went interplanetary this year, as we learned about the launch (first publicly announced at our conference) of Saturn, a new service jointly developed by LocationaryNeustar and theLocal Search Association. Designed to be a frictionless cloud-based platform where data publishers can upload data, the goal of Saturn is to help business partners standardize, synchronize and maintain their data to improve accuracy. There’s a lot more to Saturn, and the potential to revolutionize data collection, enhancement and maintenance is huge. Best of all, none of this vision involves making all information free!

Conference attendees also got the inside scoop on Infochimps, a company with the ambitious goal (well underway) of collecting all the data on the web, arguably doing for data what Google has done for text. It’s a breathtaking vision, a vision, I should note, that fully supports the role of paid data products. In fact, Infochimps would like to be the central marketplace for such datasets.

The 2011 Model of Excellence award winners? This year, the awards went to ArtlogDepository Trust and FeeFighters.

If you now really wish you were there, you can view some of the speakers and presentations here, in Pancasts provided byPanopto. Our compelling programs are our best advertisement, so consider this our first promotion for DataContent 2012. You have to be there!

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PS — We are always ready, willing and eager to receive your comments!

About InfoCommerce Group

InfoCommerce Group is a boutique consultancy, conference producer and research firm, serving producers of business information content.

InfoCommerce is particularly respected for its deep expertise in all facets of commercial database publishing.

InfoCommerce has also built an unparalleled base of knowledge in all aspects of the health content business through its Health Content Advisorsbusiness.

Final Conferences of 2011: Online Information, Grey Literature, and More

It seems hard to believe that we are rapidly approaching the holiday season and the end of 2011.  But there are some noteworthy conferences to attend before the conference calendar shuts down in mid-December for its traditional holiday break.

Online Information

The Online Information conference in London is a major event on the conference calendar.  This year’s dates are November 29 – December 1.  The conference attracts thousands of visitors, primarily from Europe, but a sizeable number come from other areas of the world.  A large exhibit hall with, at last count, 116 exhibitors and a free seminar program is a significant highlight of the event.  Four specialized areas of the exhibit hall: the Library Management Zone, ePublishing Zone, European Librarians’ Theater, and the XML Pavilion, will again be featured. The theme of the conference program is “Information and Collaboration: Meeting the Challenges of a Mobile Generation”.  It is organized into 5 tracks, each with its own keynote.

Craig Newmark

 

The opening conference keynote speaker will be Craig Newmark, founder of the well known craigslist buying and selling service, speaking on “Effective Social Media: Past, Present and Future”.

 

 

Rachel Botsman

The second day keynote speaker will be Rachel Botsman, author of What’s Mine is Yours – The Case for Collaborative Consumption, who will speak on “Collaborative Consumption: Technology, Business and Society in 21st Century”.  As always, Online Information features a host of fascinating presentations on current topics of high interest in the information industry.  Watch for Live From London, blog postings about Online Information, right here on The Conference Circuit.

 

Grey Literature

The 13th International Conference on Grey Literature (GL13): “The Grey Circuit: From Social Networking to Wealth Creation” takes place in Washington, DC on December 5-6.  According to the conference website,

Social networking is not new to grey literature; in fact it is inherent to this field of information. What’s new, however, are the technologies available to global grey literature communities in developing, monitoring, and sustaining valued information resources and services. In this context, social networking becomes a mechanism both used and applied by grey literature communities in the processes of knowledge generation and ensuing wealth creation.”

The opening keynote speaker will be Jens Vigen, Director of the CERN Library in Switzerland.  A major portion of the conference will be a large poster session, with up to 25 poster presentations.

Gilbane Conference

The 2011 Gilbane Boston Conference will be November 29 – December 1.  It will cover web and enterprise content management and is organized around 5 tracks:  Customers & Engagement, Colleagues & Collaboration, Content Technologies, and Cross Media Publishing.  November 29 is devoted to 6 pre-conference workshops. organized in 2 sets of 3.  Each conference attendee receives a 50 minute analyst insight consultation with an industry expert on a current or planned project, as well as a copy of a book entitled Managing Content Marketing.

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Digital Curation

Here are 4 conferences on digital curation and digital libraries scheduled for early December:

  • The 7th International Digital Curation Conference (IDCC11): “Public? Private? Personal? Navigating the Open Data Landscape” will be in Bristol, UK on December 5-7.  Organized by the Digital Curation Centre, UK and the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI), IDCC11 features a program of keynote addresses, plenary sessions on the first day that concentrate on organizational and research perspectives, and two simultaneous tracks on the second day containing peer-reviewed papers on a number of relevant topics.
  • The 3rd International Conference of Digital Archives and Digital Humanities (December 1-2, Taipei, Taiwan) has not released its final program yet, but some of the topics of interest are creation of digital collections and corpora, acquisition and analysis of digital data in humanities, applications of text mining, visualization and graphics, and the role of digital humanities in documentation and academic curricula.  Two keynote speakers have been engaged:  Professor Peter Bol, Director of the Center for Geographic Analysis at Harvard and Professor Sheila Anderson, Director of the Centre for e-Research, King’s College London.
  • Digital Strategies for Heritage (DISH) is a biannual international conference on digital heritage and the strategies that heritage institutions can follow.  The 2011 conference will be on December 6-9 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.  The program contains several topics of interest to information professionals, including digital curation, the open source movement, online collections of local memories, user-driven strategies, and digital archive preservation.  Clifford Lynch, Director of the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI), is one of the keynote speakers.
  • The 10th annual National Digital Forum (NDF) conference will be November 29-30 in Wellington, New Zealand.  The NDF is “a coalition of libraries, archives, museums, galleries, government departments and other organizations and individuals working to get New Zealand’s culture and heritage online and accessible to all.”  Keynote speakers are Michael Lascarides, Manager of Web Initiatives at the New York Public Library, and Dr Elisabeth Niggemann, Director General of the German National Library.

Open Repositories

Repositories in Science & Technology: Preserving Access to the Record of Science” is the title of a 1-day workshop co-sponsored by NFAIS and CENDI (the Federal Sci-Tech information managers group) on November 30 in Washington, DC.  Clifford Lynch will open the day with a review of the different types of repositories.  Sessions on case studies and repository tools will follow, and Judith Russell, Dean of Libraries at the University of Florida, will present a summary of the key issues relating to repositories.

Library Issues

  • Library Journal is holding its Directors’ Summit, “Moving from Outputs to Outcomes” on December 5-6 in Columbus, OH.  There will be two keynote addresses:  one by Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet and American Life project, and the other by Garry Golden, Lead Futurist at Future Think.  Case studies and lessons learned from other industries, such as healthcare, will be part of the program.
  • The 55th Military Librarians Workshop (what a long run!) entitled “Riding the Information Wave” will be December 4-9 in Norfolk, VA.  The program includes a DTIC boot camp, veteran’s history workshop, as well as presentations on information overload, managing your library’s managers, and the Coast Guard’s mission and information resources.
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  • Library Journal is presenting its first Virtual Technology Summit, “Power to the Patron: From Systems to Services”, which will be accessible online on December 8.  After a keynote address, the Summit will consist of panels on mobile apps, self-service in libraries, and the ILS role in empowering library users.

Information Access

The 4th International Workshop on Evaluating Information Access (EVIA 2011, Tokyo, December 6-9) will address the evaluation of information access technologies, information retrieval, question answering, and cross-lingual information access.  A lengthy program covers many aspects of the subjects.  The keynote address, by Jun’ichi Tsujii, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research Asia, is entitled “Natural Language Understanding, Semantic-Based Information Retrieval and Knowledge Management”.

Semantic Technology

The 4th International Semantic Web Applications and Tools for Life Sciences (SWAT4LS) Workshop, December 7-9 in London will feature a “hackathon” on the first day focusing on the integration and elaboration of disease-specific information.  Tutorials will be presented on the second day, and the workshop will conclude with three plenary presentations, a poster session, and a series of presentations of research.  There will also be an industry session on the Biological Expression Language (BEL) and the BEL Framework.

The 7th Australasian Ontology Workshop will be on December 5 in Perth, Australia.  It will focus on ontology research in a number of different contexts, such as agents, models, theories, and linking.

The Joint International Semantic Technology Conference (JIST 2011, Hangzhou, China, December 4-7) features short and full-length presentations and 3 keynotes:  by Professor Ian Horrocks from Oxford University, UK on semantics and scalability; Dr. Mark Greaves, Director of Knowledge Systems at Vulcan, Inc., on semantics and the crowd; and Professor Abraham Bernstein from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, on traveling the web of data.  There will also be a tutorial day and industry presentations from IBM, Elsevier, and Oracle.

Semantic Web in Libraries (SWIB11, Hamburg, Germany, November 28-30) is entitled “Scholarly Communication in the Web of Data”.  It begins with workshops and tutorials, followed by the main conference on the infrastructure, principles, and workflows of scholarly communication and publication.  The keynote by Thomas Baker, of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative, is entitled “How Linking Changes the Role of Library Data: Examples from the Wider World”.

A number of other conferences on these and other subjects are all listed on the ITI Conference Calendar.

Enjoy the holidays!

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor

Charleston Conference Wrapup

 

View of Cooper River Bridge, Charleston, SC

The 2011 Charleston Conference is over now.  As always, it was a highly worthwhile event.  This years attendance was about 1,450–an all-time record.  Here is a summary of some of the major points that came up in the sessions that I attended.

  • Michael Keller’s excellent keynote addressed the problem of information silos and how we can make it easier for our users to find the information they need.  Linked data–identifying entities embedded in the knowledge resources, tying them together with named connections, and publishing the relationships as crawlable links on the web– may be one solution.
  • With the increasing availability of large datasets, handling data has become a significant problem.  The concept of the “data paper“–a formal publication whose primary purpose is to expose and describe data, as opposed to analyzing it and drawing conclusions from it–will help researchers share their data and make it accessible and also help them comply with requirements of granting organizations that a “data management plan” be part of every application.
  • Digital repositories continue to be important, but there is considerable variation in their uses and the types of material they contain.  Repositories are no longer only about open access; they have become a valuable part of a large system that includes publishers, societies, etc.  Motivating researchers to contribute their work is a major issue.
  • One cannot go to a conference related to libraries without hearing lots about e-books, and this conference was no exception.  In an academic library’s collection, a few high-use titles tend to dominate the usage statistics, and a large number fall into the Long Tail.  A platform allowing e-books and other materials (such as journals) to be searched together is appealing.
  • The final plenary session on new directions in open research was outstanding.  The problems in today’s scholarly communication are not economic, but include scale, access, speed, and communication.  7 platforms facilitating open research have emerged in the last 12 to 18 months; many are open source and have an API for sharing.
  • An interesting report on the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) provided a status update and summarized the operational plans for the coming 18 months.  A steering committee has been formed to provide guidance.  At launch, the DPLA will be a distributed system of basic materials.  It will collaborate with a similar effort in Europe and will respect copyright.  Whenever possible, free and open source code will be used.  Metadata will be freely available.
  • The Long Arm of the Law” was a panel on current legal and copyright issues in our industry.  The doctrine of Fair Use is widely used as a justification for copying, but it is less well known that there are significant limitations on it in the current law.  “First sale” limitations do not apply to works produced outside the U.S., and an important consideration is whether the planned use of the material will be “transformative”–whether the use will change its original purpose into something new and different.
  • Fallout from the Google Books case continues.  The settlement was recently rejected by the Court because it created rights for Google that could reduce the ability of current and future competitors to enter the market.  Negotiations are continuing.
  • Discovery systems have become prominent, but they are not a panacea.  Students still must be extensively trained to search and do research, as one university professor’s experience recently showed.  Despite detailed instructions and demonstrations of the Summon system, many students had significant problems locating a known article and finding other related articles.  Discovery systems conceal the variety in conducting research and move novice searchers away form the characteristics and context of the underlying resources.  These conclusions of this experience are that all tools used by the current  generation of students require specialized instruction, and without it, even smart students will struggle to use tools that may seem intuitive to many of us.
  • The closing plenary, “The Status Quo Has Got To Go!“, by Brad Eden, Dean of Library Services, Valpariso University, was a stirring challenge to all academic librarians.  He listed some of the current problems we face such as the disengagement of states from funding higher education, dramatic changes in information dissemination as a result of the Google book settlement, the rise of social media, and space and people issues.  He challenged the audience to embrace social media and talk the way our users talk.  The current publishing model is unsustainable, and we need to be fully aware of authors’ rights.  He urged us to stop keeping our data in expensive proprietary systems.  The entire staff must be aware of the organization’s strategic direction, think like administrators, and work as a team.  A report written for university provosts (those who fund libraries) provides excellent direction for moving libraries into the future.
Dates for the 2012 Charleston Conference are November 7-10.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor