ABD Inforum 2007 new technologies


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New technologies for information professionals, especially social software. April 2007.

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    New technologies from the perspective of the user’s experience at the computer screen.
    New opportunities to engage with your publics.

    33 technologies I expect to touch on

    The internet has moved from being a one-way, centrally controlled, communication medium to one in which users can both create information and respond to what they see.
    Anyone can set up a blog in minutes and start publishing their own facts - and opinions - online.
    The web is becoming an incredibly rich mix of sense and nonsense, fact and opinion, discussion and dispute, abuse and friendship.
    It is altering the way we find information and form relationships.
    Underpinning the changes is a move to a high speed internet connection from all manner of devices and locations, from mobile phones on the road, to desktop computers in the office.

    Official figures for broadband penetration by European country. The formula, provided by the EC, is based on broadband connections per head of the
    I don’t think it’s a useful measure, but it’s all we’ve got. Bear in mind that a single connection can serve an individual, a family, a coffee shop, a hotel lobby or a small company.
    I believe that you can at least double these figures to arrive at a percentage of the population with access to broadband. Maybe more.
    The yellow arrows show how much penetration has increased in the top three countries by broadband growth in the last six months.
    Czech Republic (123%), Latvia (100%) and Greece (63%)

    Your users are increasingly online and engaging with information, applications and other people in new ways.
    This is not going to change, the trend will continue
    You are no longer the primary custodians of information. Much of it is freely available, in massive volumes, on the internet
    A high proportion of what's out there is rubbish but, to ignore the phenomenon would be a serious mistake.
    Your roles are changing. But, with expertise in information management, you are well-placed to act as guides and facilitators to those who need it.
    But you know where they’ll go first, don’t you?
    Let's put it this way: If you had internet access and you'd just been diagnosed with some obscure disease, where would you go for more information?
    You know you'll find both answers and fellow sufferers on the web.
    This new information world is real. There really is no debate.

    Access devices aren’t just PCs or laptops.
    Here are some handheld internet access devices. Most of them are mobile phones and organisers.
    For many people growing up today, ubiquitous access to this digital world is an integral part of their lives.
    I visualise digital information as an ever-growing Digital Infosphere

    Our world is changing from this...

    ...to this.
    It’s not a picture of pollution, although some might see it that way.
    It’s the digital information that surrounds us.
    It’s as pervasive as the air that we breathe.
    There may be barriers to access: National laws - some countries deliberately restrict access; Subscription payments; Membership of an organisation or group.
    But, perhaps the biggest barrier is skill. The user’s ability to discriminate between good and bad information. As I mentioned earlier, I think you have a role to play here. But, first, you need to immerse yourself in the new technologies.

    + access, opportunity for you
    - user skills

    Some people love to share. Usually strong motives - recognition probably.
    Pictures - Flickr :trips, venues, events
    Podcasts - all sorts - interviews, insights
    Screencasts - all sorts - software help
    Movies - YouTube, Google video - remixes
    Our books - LibraryThing - your expertise: books you’ve read
    Twitter - SMS-style messages - egotistic or keeping in touch?
    The thing to note about all of these things is, yes they are predominantly one-way communications, but it is the users who are communicating. It’s grass roots, not companies and institutions. Having said that, some of these technologies provide you with opportunities to connect and, indeed, to gather intelligence from this freely sharing world.
    Although the technologies look one-way, they actually encourage commentary and feedback. A cloud of meta-information surrounds each item.

    +share, refine, research connect

    Blogging is the big conversation. Endless topics. Easy to tune in and join in.
    Say something. Get comments. Get other bloggers writing about us and linking back
    Get tagged - words and comments that people store in publicly accessible bookmark systems.
    Some blog posts list ‘track-backs’ -quotes from other blogs that reference them. (Talk to your users and hear back from them)

    Instant messaging - like a phone call or a conference call, but typed. It has the additional optional benefit of showing when you’re at your machine.
    Voice over IP - it is a phone call or conference call. Skype is the best known and it’s free when both parties are at their computers. In fact most people I know use Skype for instant messaging and presence indication as well as calls.
    (free access to help desk?)
    Meet in Cyberspace/virtual reality - Second Life, for example
    Libraries, businesses, weirdos - it's all there and, for its participants, it is part of real life. Big companies like Cisco and IBM have substantial presences there. And there’s even a virtual island dedicated to libraries and information - download books and magazines. Or read them in situ. (Save on travel time and costs)

    + learn, share, find, instant, presence, fun, time, travel
    - volume of stuff, quality of stuff, get lost, poor implementation

    Unlike many Second Life libraries, this one doesn’t have a First Life equivalent.
    As you can see it can be a bit lonely in Second Life
    And, while beautifully executed, it’s an attempt to replicate the real world rather than create something new.
    Frankly, the user interface in most online libraries is pretting boring.

    But it doesn't have to be lonely.
    This is a drinks party at Crayon - a new kind of marketing company.
    It sent party Invites out in blog posts and emails and waited to see who’d show up.
    Bonds were forged (through typing: IM-style)
    The public conversations were mad, but private ones were productive
    For people who can’t meet in the flesh, or who would otherwise not find each other, these gatherings have value.
    Your avatar could be your opportunity to show off hidden aspects of your personality.

    To find stuff you're likely to be interested in, why not use the tag words that other people have associated with photos, movies, blog posts or web pages generally? When you put information online, you can tag it yourself. Then, when others find your stuff, they can add their own tags.
    Tags are just the users' own categorisation words. They probably don't correspond to a formal taxonomy, except by accident. But, cumulatively, they evolve to form what's called a folksonomy.
    They can be used in tag search engines such as Technorati or in bookmarking systems such as del.icio.us - this gathers together web pages by tags and by the tagger ('I also read this'). Taggers can add comments too.
    You can get a good idea about people simply from what they've taken the trouble to tag.

    + discover people, information
    - effort, minority do it

    Here’s an example of a tag cloud
    It provides both navigation and a measure of a topic’s popularity.
    This one is taken from a blog post by Tim Spalding, the creator of the LibraryThing book catalogue I mentioned earlier.
    These are the topics that politicians focused on during the US mid-term elections.
    I clicked on the ‘environment’ tag to see what happened next. It told me:
    - how many times used
    - how many users and who they are
    - books tagged that way
    - recent reviews and so on

    You can give web pages and blogs a thumbs up or a thumbs down in StumbleUpon - it gets to know your interests and you can ask it for tips about what to look at. It will avoid the sort of stuff that earned a thumbs-down.
    You can send links to services like Digg and Reddit, to say you liked what you saw. This pushes them up the popularity lists. The top items are then taken up by Digg watchers and, if they like what they see, they 'Digg' the stuff too and it remains popular until the next big thing.
    And, of course, if your blog links to another blog, this is even better than a vote. Inbound links are valuable. They are persistent, and they can be
    analysed especially who's connecting to whom.

    + give influence, spot trends, get noticed, gain influence

    Tracking blog commentary for the French elections.
    This map shows the greens - ecologists blogs and the links between them.
    Blue lines show reciprocation, red lines are inbound links and the size of the spheres show their Google pagerank.
    Some analysis programs vary the thickness of the lines according to the link’s popularity.
    Dark green are ecologists, light green are regular greens.

    Our internet wanderings can be tracked by the services we use.
    We leave trails of the websites we visit, the pictures we dwell on, the blogs we read and so on.
    When we just visited odd websites, it wasn't such a big deal but now, with companies like Google, Yahoo! and News Corp (to name but three) offering us multiple services, they can grab even more information about us, in different contexts too.
    If this worries you, you can anonymise yourself using something like Anonymizer.
    Mostly, the systems gathering this stuff don't actually care who you are, they just use information in the aggregate: this is a popular blog, that's a popular picture and so on.
    You could use the same techniques to profile the behaviour of your online visitors and use it to improve the flow and content of your website.

    + improve site, get focused attention
    - reveal self, get pestered

    An obscure sounding technology called RSS alerts us when something new and of personal interest has found its way onto the web.
    To receive the alerts, you *subscribe* to the RSS feeds of sources you value.
    The feeds are XML files which contain the date, title and content (partial or total) of, for example, the most recent blog posts.
    Usually, these subscriptions are handled by an aggregator - this can be an online service: like bloglines or newsgator, or a conventional program like RSS
    Bandit or GreatNews. Or Sage, which sits in your browser. The aggregator then flags up anything new and may read some or all of it there and then.
    You can set up 'watchlists' in some aggregators to look for key words and phrases on your behalf. This is terrific for finding new sources of relevant
    The danger is overload. You need to get philosophical and not worry if you don't read everything.
    A benefit is that you can alert clients of new information with virtually no effort.

    + heads up, tell clients, instant research
    - sheer volume

    This barn was raised in half a day by 150 Amish men. No pay, just good food provided by the womenfolk.
    A wiki is a kind of barn-raising software. It usually provided as a web service,
    Normally, a wiki would be used by a team or a community of practice focused on a particular task: a book, a conference, documentation, an encyclopaedia.
    You've probably all heard of wikipedia.
    A full version history is maintained and it's easy enough to revert to an earlier version or see who has made what changes.
    Public wikis can become polluted with graffiti and misinformation.
    Membership only wikis are inherently safer.
    Without someone playing a ‘gardener’ role, wikis can get a bit straggly and disorganised.

    + collaborate for results, version control, good for groups, CoPs
    - straggly, pollution

    Very close to the collaboration theme is sharing.
    We are increasingly sharing access to web-based programs and services. Typically, these are social networking sites like LinkedIn, shared calendars, word
    processors, outliners, project management systems and the wikis I have already mentioned.
    The web is the platform. The services can be delivered to anyone with a browser, whether they're on a PC, a Mac or a Linux machine.
    There are hundreds of these applications. Some will be here today and gone tomorrow. Some cost money, others are free.
    Bear in mind that they usually store your details and your data. While convenient and leaving you free of all IT responsibility, you need to feel confident that you're not exposing yourself to unnecessary risk. At the very least you need to be sure you can retrieve all your data in electronic form should you need to migrate to a new service.

    + safer, access anywhere, rapid improvement, instant, hassle free updates, machine independent
    -dependence on the web connection, longevity of supplier

    The last technology I want to mention is the mashup.

    Once web services and application widgets arrived on the web, the obvious next step was to bind them together in innovative ways. Rather like this chap here. (Centaur)
    The first mashup was a combination of Craigslist - a for sale service - and Google maps. You want to buy something? Fine - a pin appears in a map to show where the seller lives. If you click on that, a panel pops up containing the relevant details of the house, car or whatever.
    The last time I looked there were nearly 2,000 mashups listed on programmableweb. Talis is a specialist library software company. It has been doing some neat mashups for a couple of years now. It opened up its bibliographic database to the world. Access is provided through an API (application programming interface) which is the window through which the content is accessed.
    You can mash up data or application functions. Yahoo! Pipes filters and blends RSS feeds. Teqlo joins applications and widgets to each other. Both are
    targeted at end users rather than programmers.
    The potential for creating your own data and functional workflows without serious programming is growing by the day.

    + new functionality, some are easy, some powerful public APIs
    - can break, can be hard, can go out of business

    Finally, I'd like to introduce you to Helene Blowers, the Public Services Technology Director, of the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County (PLCMC).
    She created a terrific eight-week, 23-step programme to enable staff to familiarise themselves with new technology.
    It covers all the topics on this slide. All the programme requires is a reasonably standard machine, an internet connection and web access. That’s why Skype and Second Life aren’t on the list. NetLibrary, by the way is eBooks.
    Helene has made the programme available to anyone - the link is at the foot of this slide. As a way of getting yourself or others up to speed, I cannot recommend it highly enough.
    I fyou’re not already, do participate then you will discover new opportunities. You are already web-aware so, technically speaking, it’s a short step to this new world. But, in cultural terms, it is actually a massive leap into a new world.

    I wish you every success.
    Thank you for listening.
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  • New technologies from the perspective of the user’s experience at the computer screen. New opportunities to engage with your publics
  • ABD Inforum 2007 new technologies

    1. 1. New Technologies David Tebbutt Information World Review contributor tebbo.com iwr.co.uk
    2. 2. New technologies I’ll mention
    3. 3. What’s happening?
    4. 4. Broadband penetration Q306 http://www.ectaportal.com/en/upload/File/Broadband%20Scorecards/Q306/FINALBBScQ306.xls
    5. 5. There’s no debate
    6. 6. There’s no escape
    7. 7. Our world ‘ Blue marble’ courtesy of NASA’s Earth Observatory
    8. 8. A digital infosphere? ‘ Blue marble’ courtesy of NASA’s Earth Observatory
    9. 9. We like to show off
    10. 10. We have conversations
    11. 11. Second Life - library The Whitehorn Memorial Library in Caledon Victoria City
    12. 12. Second Life - party
    13. 13. We label things
    14. 14. Tag cloud ‘ environment’ tag and its aliases used 5,703 times by 1,458 users Books most often tagged ‘environment’... Last ten books tagged environment... Recently reviewed books tagged ‘environment’...
    15. 15. We vote for and against By Liz West http://www.flickr.com/people/calliope/
    16. 16. La Blogopole http://www.rtgi.fr/ http://www.blogopole.fr/
    17. 17. We leave trails
    18. 18. We like to be alerted
    19. 19. We collaborate <ul><li>© Ian Adams </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.ianadamsphotography.com/ </li></ul>
    20. 20. We share access By Mel & John Kots http://www.flickr.com/people/melanieandjohn/
    21. 21. An early mashup
    22. 22. A programme for you? Web 2.0 Library 2.0 Wikis Online Applications & Tools Podcasts, Video & Downloadable audio NetLibrary Blogs Photos & Images RSS & Newsreaders LibraryThing Search Tagging & Folksonomies http://plcmclearning.blogspot.com/