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The editors of Information Today would like to thank the staff of NFAIS for providing us with the technological infrastructure to blog live from the NFAIS Annual Conference sessions.

Check out the NFAIS site for copies of the presentations, including the slides from our impromptu talk on ITI’s blogging experiments.

Please join us back at on March 14-18, when our editors will combine forces with staff from other parts of our enterprise in a company-wide blogging initiative during our 20th Computers in Libraries Conference in Washington, D.C.

Dick Kaser
ITI VP, Content

When the Medium Becomes the Message

Funny how these things happen . . .

Today’s program was scheduled to end with a presentation by Peter Morville (Semantic Studios) on “The Next Generation of Information Seekers, Future Needs & Expectations.”

Unfortunately Peter has not been able to get to Philadelphia today for the talk.

The conference organizers have requested that Marydee Ojala and I leave our blogging jobs and take the platform to discuss what we have been doing here, what Information Today is doing with blogging, and how those attending this conference might learn from us.

Talk about role reversal. We who have sat objectively on the sidelines all during this conference are now being called to center stage.

So, though we’d like to cover the final session, we have to give it instead.

Where’s Marshall McLuhan when you need him?

Dick Kaser
ITI VP Content

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

Business Models Panel

Barbara Lange discussed the collaboration of IEEE with Google. She noted it takes technical, business and marketing staff to make for a successful collaboration. One of the challenges has been how to surface IEEE materials in a standard Google search. Adwords have been surprisingly useful. IEEE may be a better fit with Scholar — usage spiked when Scholar debuted — but users are confused by the various flavors of Google. Google makes traditional information companies rethink their strategies, their branding, and their organization of data.

Jan Williams then talked about CAS’ experiences with data rights. She gave four steps for creating/changing your information policy.

1. Decide what you don’t want to permit
2. Decide what you do want to permit
3. Talk to customers about the proposed policy to make sure it works for them
4. Draft policy and seek customer review and input

The final speaker is Cynthia Murphy from Dialog who’s talking about pricing. Pricing strategy needs to reflect the long term view of how you intend to deliver value to your customers, it’s not just about a price point. Pricing models include usage based, hybrid, and subscription. Again, what you choose should reflect your value proposition. There’s a continuum from traditional to value-based pricing. Listen to the market, respond to market shifts and competitive factors. Listen to what the market says and not what you want to hear. That latter is good advice for lots of things, not just pricing.

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

Evolving Business Models Session

The final panel discussion at the NFAIS Annual Conference is about evolving business models. The program has a whole has clearly proved to be sticky, since you’ll see most delegates are still in the audience.

Dick Kaser
ITI VP, Content

Strategic Merger of Content, Technology, Analytic Tools

The session before lunch addressed how companies can achieve a strategic merger of content, technology, and analytic tools. Kate (“I’m not Peter”) Noerr really caught my attention with her declaration, “There’s no new technology. We just find different ways of doing same old thing.” She then said that her company, MuseGlobal, believes they’re a service company, not a software company. Roland (“I’m not Peter, either”) Dietz talked about integrating search results as done by Endeavor. Finally, Stuart Dodd showed off MicroPatent’s analysis tools, such as citation trees.

What I’m hearing this morning is how very important are clustering and visualization. But watch out for “chart junk.”

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

Taking a Work Break

Simon Inger, Director, Scholarly Information Strategies, Ltd. (Oxford) takes a break from the NFAIS conference sessions to catch up on his work.

Dick Kaser
ITI VP, Content

It’s a Technological Morning

The three speakers this morning, Paul Pedersen from MarkLogic, Raul Valdes-Perez from Vivisimo, and Ben Bederson from the Human-Computer Interaction Lab at the University of Maryland, are explaining the technology they employ in their companies and the research they’re doing in aid of the search process. Paul discussed taxonomies, navigation, and the difference between search and query. Frankly, I missed the distinction until I realized that, to him, search, which he characterized as fuzzy, returning some relevant information, non-extensible, read-only, and using "pidgin" query language, equated more to Web search than the online searching I grew up with. Query, to him, was more in the computer science realm, where an exact query against a database returns every matching element and is fully programmable. That’s more like what I expect from Dialog, but I don’t expect it from Google or Yahoo!

Raul claims the main problem facing us today in not information overload, it’s information overlook. People, when faced with too much data simply ignore most of it. His answer to information overlook is, no surprise here, clustering results from multiple search engines and sources. Obviously, he’s showing how Clusty works. One of his query examples is bonabos, an animal I had never heard of before. Now he’s searching cockroaches. OK, I have heard of those.

Visualization is the topic of the third talk. It lets you find patterns and explore information. There are lots of pitfalls, such as meaningless spatial relationships. He advocates a zoomable user interface. He’s got a demo of a visual search engine for children’s books designed for kids to browse. There is an advanced search for adults that’s more textual, but the adults like the visual interface without the words. In another project, PaperLens, Ben’s showing relationships among conference papers. Now there’s an idea I’d like to see expanded beyond a lab experiment. It would be a great product for the real world.

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

What Librarians Want from Service Vendors

Jim McGinty receiving the Miles Conrad Memorial Lecture Award from NFAIS President Linda Sacks (Thomson Scientific, VP, Business Strategy). Photo by Don Hawkins.

In his lecture, McGinty identified several factors that his survey showed mattered most to librarians in their dealings with representatives from vendor companies. See if you agree.

1. Vendors who can explain their company’s products
2. Flexibility in scheduling time with the library staff
3. Understanding of the library environment
4. Understanding how the product fits into the library operations and organization
5. Technical understanding and help with deployment

Dick Kaser
ITI V.P., Content

Making it look so easy

It takes a lot of effort to make a conference like the NFAIS Annual Meeeting happen. Making it all look so easy is the NFAIS staff.

Behind this year’s seamless event are Jill O’Neill, NFAIS Director, Planning & Communications (left), and NFAIS Executive Director Bonnie Lawlor, shown here at last night’s reception in the Union League.

Dick Kaser
ITI VP, Content

Chatting @ NFAIS — Day III

Delegates to the NFAIS Conference woke to a winter wonderland. Among the sites, this Civil War statue in front of the Union League, scene of last night’s reception.

Welcome to Day III, and the final day of this blog.

Dick Kaser
ITI VP, Content