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Customizing Economic Insights

Interested in keeping up with the economic news around the world? RGE Monitor, billed as "A Roubini Global Economics Service," crosses global borders and drills down to the economic news that you should know when you need to know about it. RGE Monitor’s team of economists and analysts slice and dice information about essential issues so you can spend less time searching and more time analyzing. Economic issues are sorted into handy bundles that keep the "Spotlight on the Top Issues" that can range from global to local in scope and all points in between. RGE chairman Nouriel Roubini, former White House and Treasury Department economist, originally launched the site because he thought coverage was not good enough to keep professionals informed on all fronts (news and blogs). "We are at the nexus of academic, political, and financial markets," according to Christopher Polony, senior account manager, who pointed to a lengthy list of clients that included Deutsche Bank, Bank of England, Japanese Ministry of Finance, and Peking University. Check out the site for yourself at

Barbara Brynko
Editor in Chief
Information Today

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Social Networker

I had lunch today with David Gurteen, Gurteen Knowledge. David chaired this morning’s opening session on social networking at the main conference. The session emphasized how social networking technologies and knowledge sharing techniques can be used effectively in large organizations.

David will also be helping me out with ITI’s Buying & Selling EContent Conference next spring, where we plan to use some knowledge sharing techniques as part of the program.

Dick Kaser
ITI, V.P., Content


Panelists at a session today on "The Value of Communities" discussed the relative importance of both virtual and physical communities. As I entered the auditorium Don Dixon, Senior Lecturer, University of West England (standing left of the lectern), and Past Editor of Knowledgeboard newsletter Ed Mitchell (at the mic.) were addressing the room.

Mitchell was stressing the importance of "contactivity." "Most of us at this conference are here to network," he observed.

The two suggested that the way to be successful in building virtual communities is to remember the importance of face-to-face meetings. A Wiki, for example, might not work until there is trust and common understanding among the participants. One might use a Wiki to flesh out a topic for discussion, but it may take a physcial meeting before the virtual conversation can get rolling.

The key, said Dixon, is "to get online and offline facilitators together to share their expertise."


Gossamer Panels

It was Wolters Kluwer (left) who first introduced the idea of gauze screens as light-weight privacy walls in its stand at Online Information last year.

As things go, good ideas catch on . . .

The gauze screens were being used effectively by several other exhibitors at this year’s show, including Cambridge University Press (right) . . .

. . .and intelligence information provider Global Insight (below).

Dick Kaser
ITI V.P., Content

Google Unanswered

Google exhibited here last year, but they’re not on the floor in 2006. However, the news out of California today was Google’s abandonment of its Google Answers project. To be honest, I found Google Answers an illuminating insight into what ordinary people thought the answer to a question was worth. And it wasn’t much. But at least Google Answers required people to put a dollar value on answers. This is quite different from Yahoo Answers, which seems to feature inane, unimportant, and sometimes silly questions that can be answered by just about anybody with no qualifications that are immediately evident. If Google Answers is dead, can Yahoo’s version be far behind?

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

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The Biggest Challenges

Watch for a big push in ebooks, according to Gurvinder Batra, chief technologist at TechBooks. The industry conditions are right: There’s more than one ebook reader available now, so publishers have a choice. Batra is busy charting TechBooks’ future. The good news is that the company is growing (now 4,500 employees), but scaling factors (getting operations up to speed and training new employees) continue to be challenging. "Consumers are very demanding," said Batra. "We have to get it right the first time, every time."

Barbara Brynko
Editor in Chief
Information Today

The Latest Lego Technology


Click arrow to start video

You never know what you will find in an exhibit hall! In my rounds yesterday, I came across this great robot made from Lego and coupled to a small portable computer. It was in the Fabasoft booth and was delivering candy (a.k.a. sweets here in the UK) from a dish into the hands of visitors. If you want to see it in action, click the arrow in the Flash window above.

Andrew Moore (shown in photo above) described Fabasoft’s product to me. It’s a content management system for very large enterprises that’s generally used in "back office" applications to index and control access to internal documents. Major users include some European government departments. Fabasoft is just beginning to enter the U.S. market and has established an office in Boston.

Great marketing, Andrew: use attention-getting attention technology to reel in potential customers, and then take the opportunity to discuss your product with them. It worked with me!

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today

Open Access From the Publisher’s Viewpoint

Much has been said about open access (OA) in the past couple of years, with a large part of the debate from the viewpoint of the author or reader. So I was particularly interested in two presentations discussing OA from the other participants—the publishers. Jan Velterop, formerly at BioMedCentral and now Director of OA at Springer, represented a large publisher, and Paul Peters, Sr. Director of Publishing at Hindawi Publishing Corporation in Egypt, represented a smaller publisher. They both had interesting views on OA.

Velterop addressed three aspects of OA: dogma, ethics, and pragmatism. He noted that no two journals have the same goals, motives, procedures, acceptance and rejection criteria, or ethics. But they do organize the scientific literature and provide a pecking order, which leads to a very anarchic environment. He noted that the value of publishing lies in the content, and the old subscription model of journal publishing (the only reasonable model in a print world) implies selling content. Some publishers think that OA undermines their rights, but publishers only have rights to content if they have been given to them, which is the usual case when an author transfers copyright to a publisher (a requirement for publishing). Velterop thinks that publishers should come to the conclusion that OA is a good thing, and then focus our energy on how to achieve it. He concluded with the following food for thought:

• Most scholarly articles are highly specialized and are therefore understood only by a few people, which leads to low usage figures.

• Copyright is virtually irrelevant in scientific research because the system is built upon “standing on the shoulders of giants”—adding incremental advances to previous research. Velterop call this “a form of organized plagiarism”.

• Peer review is a test to indicate the article is scientifically sound. It has nothing to do with scientific truth because many conventional truths are often overturned as a result of further research.

• Articles are like ads in which a researcher promotes his/her scientific prowess in the ecosystem to further future career and funding prospects.

Peters presented a strong case for OA as a benefit to scientific publishers. In his view, it has three compelling advantages:

1. Launching new journals and expanding existing titles becomes much easier under the OA model. In the subscription world, increasing the size means increasing the price, which will lead to some cancellations. In an OA world, journal prices do not change when sizes are increased. By their nature, subscription barriers limit the distribution of an article, which in today’s Internet environment is a huge disadvantage. For established journals a publisher’s limited page budget can cause lengthy publication delays. OA journals can immediately publish an article as soon as it is ready.

2. OA attracts authors because of its faster publication speeds. Attracting strong authors is the key to creating strong journals.

3. OA increases competition in the market. Smaller publishers cannot compete in the current subscription market because many journals have a monopoly on their content. The lack of competition makes it difficult for smaller publishers to gain an edge. If authors have to pay the publication cost of their articles from a research budget, they are far more likely to consider the subscription price of a journal when deciding where to publish. If they publish in an OA journal, authors can be sure their article will be widely available, even if they submit it to a less prestigious journal.

In the subscription world, size of the publisher makes a big difference in its ability to compete. Promoting a small collection of journals to potential subscribers can be prohibitively expensive. Many small publishers must rely on word of mouth to increase their base of subscribers, but in an OA world, the author becomes the publisher’s sole customer so it can focus on services provided to the author.

I found it encouraging that these two speakers both presented a good case for publisher support of OA. Maybe there is hope yet that OA will become a widely accepted business model in the scholarly publishing world.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today

Another Information Pioneer in the Exhibit Hall

Eugene Garfield, Chairman Emeritus of ISI, appeared in the Thomson ISI booth and autographed copies of an article describing his pioneering work in developing citation indexing and applying it to the scientific literature. Here, he presents a copy of the article to Barbara Brynko, Editor of Information Today.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today

A Picture’s Worth

Special thanks to EContent’s sales manager, Walter McQuillan, for getting these shots of more EContent 100 list winners.

What a wonderful opportunity to meet so many of them… and so many other key players in the industry.

Michelle Manafy
Editor, EContent, Intranets, and the Enterprise Search Sourcebook