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P.S. Join the EContent100 Winners at BSeC ’09



In accepting one of the EC100 Awards presented in London, CCC’s Bill Burger said:   "We are really proud to receive this award, and we look forward to seeing everyone in Scottsdale."

One of the things I personally enjoyed most about my visit to Online Information this year is the fact that I got to be involved in presenting some of the EContent Magazine’s EC100 Juried Awards.

Information Today, Inc. will be honoring all of the EContent 100 winners at our Buying & Selling eContent (BSeC 09) event in Scottsdale, April 5-7, 2009.

The BSeC ’09 advance agenda has just been released. 

If you buy, sell, distribute, or provide electronic content technology solutions . . .  If you occupy an executive or senior management position in your enterprise . . . If you want to improve your organization’s results this year and in the long run . . . Then, I look forward to seeing you at BSeC ’09

Dick Kaser

ITI VP, Content

P.P.S.  A few sponsorship opportunities are also available if you would like to see your company’s name directly associated with BSeC.

Live from London 2008



Thanks for joining us for Live from London 2008.  Happy Holidays.  We hope to see you here again next year.



Synthesizing Online Impressions

It’s been a week since Online Information ended and I confess it’s taken me this long to synthesize my impressions of this year’s conference. It’s always a kaleidoscopic conference, with the full conference programme in a different part of Olympia from the exhibit floor and the various free presentation rooms. Back at the beginning of our blogging experience, Dick posed some questions about the extent of the economic impact on the show. I don’t know that my answers to his questions represent everybody’s view, but FWIW, here’s my take.

Overall, I thought the conference programme was well-attended, although I suspect people there had paid for their registrations and travel before the current recessionary environment hit home. The mix of topics was excellent, with a mixture of theoretical and practical.

The exhibit floor was another story. There were fewer companies, smaller stands, and less glitz and glam. Offsetting that impression was Oracle’s decision to raffle off a car (but only UK residents were eligible – I would have had some difficulties importing it into the US had I won, I’m sure). Or was that a desperation measure? Looking down on the exhibit floor from the balcony revealed empty spaces hidden behind white walls. It wasn’t obvious on the exhibit floor that large areas were unoccupied, but it was very obvious from above. The exhibit didn’t cover the entire ground floor, either. Behind the Theatres where most of the free presentations took place was a large, empty, unlit space that, in previous years, would have been filled with exhibit stands.

People who visit the exhibits without signing up for the full conference have much more flexibility in their planning. Once an exhibit hall pass is obtained, they can pick and chose which day to come, make travel arrangements at the last minute, or decide not to attend after all. This is purely subjective, but I’m pretty sure there were fewer exhibit-goers than in prior years and they were from fewer countries. Which is too bad, since as others have documented in this blog, the exhibitors had some dynamite new products on offer.

One stand that had heavy traffic was the American Economic Association’s. In these difficult economic times, economic literature apparently becomes more popular. In addition to the EconLit database, AEA was showing its four new journal titles. The Google stand, which was miniscule, had good traffic but only wanted to talk about Knol.

Coverage of the show in social media moved from blogs to Twitter. But there was huge confusion about what tag to use. Was it #oi2008, #onlineinfo2008, #onlineinfo08, or just #onlineinfo? If you used all possible hash tags, you had no characters left (Twitter only allows 140) to actually say anything. A similar problem existed with blog folksonomies. Without standardized tags, it’s really difficult to search on what was said about the show by the bloggers and twitterers.

As Dick said earlier, this was the first major information industry event since the world financial crisis. Certainly delegates were talking of reduced budgets and travel constraints. However, the enthusiasm for new technologies and for working as an information professional is still very high. I ran into few people who were discouraged. They were looking for the bright spots, the silver linings in the clouds.

As, I suppose, we all should do.

Marydee Ojala

Editor, ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals


EUSIDIC was supposed to share the CLSIG booth this year, but with Johan van Halm’s death in September, the future of the association is up in the air. On Wednesday afternoon, Oriole Newgass announced that the EUSIDIC conference that was to be held next year in Zurich is cancelled. Oddly, none of the EUSIDIC board members (at least 3 of them were at the conference) were present at the announcement. Word on the street, however, is that the money remaining in the EUSIDIC treasury will be used for a scholarship or grant or similar award, in lieu of holding conferences. It’s a great shame to see EUSIDIC disappear from the information industry landscape.

Marydee Ojala

Editor, ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals

Conference Programme, Day Three

Thursday saw a shortened programme, with only two sessions in the three tracks and a closing keynote beginning after lunch and scheduled to end at 3.30 with the conference close. I had been looking forward to hearing Steve Arnold, with his very distinguished panel (Francois Bourdoncie from Exalead, Daud Kahn from Casenove, Martin White from Intranet Focus, and a late addition from Autonomy), but the conference organizers put the closing session into one of the smaller conference rooms and I couldn’t inch my way in.

I thought the first session of the day, on Gen Y librarians, took an interesting tack, since the panelists were Gen Y librarians. I wasn’t baby boomers telling us how dreadful the younger generation is. A Chartered Management Institute study of Gen Y dispells the myths that they are lazy and not loyal to their employers. Gen Y people don’t break their personal and work lives into separate boxes. Frankly, it began to sound like independent consultants to me. The other important takeaway was that Gen Y may not be about age at all, but about attitude.

Marydee Ojala

Editor, ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals

Conference Programme, Day Two

Since there was no overall keynote speaker for the second day of the full conference programme, there were four sessions in each of the three tracks. Tops were new ways of working (socialization, collaboration, and innovation), creating structure in the information universe, and information professionals.

You’d think that in today’s recessionary environment, librarians would be down in the mouth. And some of them are. Budget cuts seem a worldwide phenomenon. Gloria Zamora, SLA’s president elect, chose to talk about alternative careers, Dennie Heye, winner of SLA Europe’s Special Librarian of the year award and library for Shell in Holland, disclosed the 7 skills of highly successful info pros.

Marydee Ojala

Editor, ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals


Conference Programme, Day One

The full conference programme upstairs in Olympia was well-attended, although I saw fewer nationalities than in previous years. The sessions themselves were, mainly packed. As in past years, there were three tracks, each with a different theme. The breaks between sessions, however, were longer, probably designed to allow delegates to go down to the exhibition and visit with the companies there. A lunch was provided on Wednesday, again I’m assuming to get delegates off the 3rd floor of Olympia and onto the exhibit floor.

Tuesday, following Clay Shirky’s keynote, the three tracks dealth with Web 2.0, Search, and the changed environment for librarians and publishers. Chris Sherman gave a fascinating talk on how search engines are beginning to understand what you really want to know, not just searching on the terms you enter. He also made a distinction between the semantic web and semantic search. Mary Ellen Bates talked about custom search engines, noting that Yahoo’s attempt at this is already dead. That’s the problem with sending slides in early–search can change very fast. In the search track, it was on to search engine optimisation and search analytics. The day ended, at least in the search track with a session on "Heterogeneous search" where Austin Mclean from ProQuest talked about what they’re doing with multimedia embedded in dissertations (something that’s becoming more common, but presents some intellectual property issues).He also noted how, as time goes on, there could be problems with obsolete formats having no hardware to play/show them. I followed Austin to talk about what it happening with multimedia search on web search engines. I said there was a difference between looking for information in multimedia formats and viewing search results as visual objects. I also discussed the increasing trend towards embedding mulimedia information.

Marydee Ojala

Editor, ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals

Bring On Those Ebooks

The session on Ebooks–Finally Gaining Traction was standing room only Thursday morning, as Robin Hunt, research fellow at CIBER at the University College London, led with his rapid-fire talk and slide show to the packed audience about the "death of print" and the emergence of ebooks.

"The ebook," he says, "is the elephant in the room" and considers this time of big transitions as "an exciting time to be in publishing."

On the optimistic side, he cited Bob Stein’s collaborative project called The Golden Notebook ( Stein, co-director of if:book in London (a self-proclaimed "think-and-do tank") coordinated "a virtual group read" with seven women (all creative writers and critics) in early November of Doris Lessing’s 1962 novel, The Golden Notebook. It may sound like an ordinary book club, but this time, the reading group annotated and commented on the novel online. Hunt sees this venture as a testimony to the way ebooks can build communities and build trust around a digital product. "The ebook," he says, "will make knowledge and writing instantaneous."

Lorraine Estelle, CEO of JISC, provided an update on the organization’s National Ebook Observatory project on ebooks. So far, the study has shown that more than 61% of students have read an ebook, but only 47.2% of those had accessed the ebook through a library. Although the study is ongoing, the fact remains that this collaborative research have demonstrated how librarians nationwide can gather together behind a single idea and form a unified front. The results point to the need for more education about ebooks and more access to ebooks in libraries, especially for students who need textbooks for classes.

Then, Henri Stiller provided insight into the PORTIAAL project, designed to follow the participation of a group using an ebook bunch (a set of ebooks related to a specific topic). This new publishing paradigm, he says, will change the way information is managed and circulated.

During the Q&A at the end of the session, Hunt says he sees the necessity of ebooks reaching "the tipping point," which is likely to be through the use of ebook readers. In order to achieve such a tipping point, the ebook reader has to offer a "pleasant reading experience" in a digital way. He’s also been wondering why people haven’t been touting ebooks as "an environmentally wonderful thing," saving a few trees one ebook at a time.

Barbara Brynko
Editor in Chief
Information Today

My Chat with Ian Russell & Ending on a Semantic Note





ALPSP’s Ian Russell

Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet for the first time ALPSP‘s "new" executive director.  Veteran publisher Ian Russell has actually been at his post at the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers for two (short) years now.

I don’t seem to have taken a picture of him. (Hmmm. ???)  So I hope he will not mind that I stole one from the ALPSP web site.

Ian led off our discussion by telling me that ALPSP has recently issued the 3rd of its longitudinal studies, based on a survey of 500 commercial and academic publishers, tracking trends related to electronic journal publishing, Scholarly Publishing Practice 3

I didn’t get a chance to review the report, but based on the summary of key findings at the ALPSP web site, I can see that it addresses many of the topics we have been discussing on this blog:

  • The proportion of publishers offering optional open access to authors has grown from 9% in 2005 to 30% in 2008. However, the take-up of the author pays open access option is exceedingly low.
  • Licensing terms have become more generous, as publishers have become more comfortable with the use of digital content, including allowing use in Virtual Learning Environments and repurposing to create learning objects.
  • Publishers are at different stages of development in their implementation of Web 2.0 technologies, with 20% enabling collaborative tagging and between 10% and 15% implementing forums, blogs and podcasts for a journal.

During our talk Ian also referred to various semantic-based (that’s Web 3.0 stuff) activities going on in the publishing community.

He specifically referred me to Ingenta, which has used a semantic platform in the development of its new Metastore.  According to the Ingenta blog,the platform will support publishers in the creation of "virtual journals," by combining articles into new packages and will also support publishers in uploading ancillary materials,including the data sets that back up reported research.

I saw a bit of all of these things as I reported to you my impressions of this year’s Online Information conference.

Though I wish I could have seen, heard and discovered more, I think it’s only fitting that my coverage begins with open access, passes through Web. 2.0, and ends on semantic technologies.

In the slides from Joe Buzzanga’s talk on illumin8, Joe projected that we would arrive at Web 3.0 (semantic web) in 2010.  I have seen the inklings of it here and now.

Journal articles, as containers of knowledge, may not be going away any time soon, but it’s increasingly clear that a layer of rich, enabling services is soon going to go on top of them, possibly upsetting our apple cart once again,and giving us a whole new definition of what online information services are.  No surprise that things are changing again.  That’s the history of this "online" show.

There were many other vendors I should liked to have seen, but–as always happens at this event–time ran out.

See you next year.

Dick Kaser

ITI VP, Content

P.S.  Look for my final report in Computers in Libraries magazine (Feb. ’08 issue).

Time Travel

Rossella Proscia, marketing director at Cengage Learning EMEA, turned back the hands of time during a tour of the State Papers Online, one of Gale/Cengage Learning’s latest research resources. The State Papers Online brings primary documents from the British government (1509-1714) to life. When the four-part project is completed in 2011, users will have access to nearly 3 million pages of reports, letters, memos, and parliamentary drafts from these two centuries.

Part I now covers from critical events for the Tudor era from Henry VIII’s separation from Rome to the defeat of the Spanish Armada; Part II will be released in April with Parts III and IV expected to be released in 2010 and 2011. Users can search via Calendar (abstract) entries for specific events or select a reference in the index, then jump to the exact spot in the actual document. The Related Resources on the homepage offers links to the Image Gallery, References & Links, Key Documents, and more for access to "more content, more functionality."

Proscia credits the Advisory Board with helping supply the richness and depth of the offerings. "Our Advisory Board includes many experts including Dr. Stephen Alford from the University of Chicago and Professor Norman Jones from Utah State University," she says. "This is a resource that appeals to researchers and students alike with quality, vetted content."

Also new to Gale/Cengage Learning is the Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO), Part 2: New Editions, bringing nearly 45,000 new titles to "the world’s largest digital library of the printed book." And the other new offering is  Global Issues in Context resource for libraries and reference centers, offering students global perspectives on world issues and events in the 21st century. "Global Issues in Context ties together sources that reach into the social, military, economic, and political worlds with interactive maps, podcasts, news streams, and more," she says.

"Its customizable interface has less text and more graphics to give students a look at important global issues from different angles."

Barbara Brynko
Editor in Chief
Information Today