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Developing an RSS-Based Current Awareness Service


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Somewhat misleading title - presentation at the Medicine 2.0 Congress in Montreal, September 2008 about current awareness tools and services developed at the Ebling Library for the Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison. RSS is just the beginning...

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Developing an RSS-Based Current Awareness Service

  1. 1. Developing an RSS-Based Current Awareness Service <ul><li>Allan R Barclay, Rebecca Holz Ebling Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison </li></ul><ul><li>Medicine 2.0 Congress  Toronto, Canada September 5, 2008 </li></ul>
  2. 2. Current Awareness in the Stone Age
  3. 3. Current Awareness in the Information Age
  4. 4. Current Awareness in the Not Too Distant Future? (the Post Information Age?)
  5. 5. Well, it doesn’t have to be that bad…
  6. 6. The Problem with “The Literature” <ul><li>Its slow and you’re busy (7 minutes a week?) </li></ul><ul><li>Its only what gets published or vetted </li></ul><ul><li>Its not inherently interactive or engaging </li></ul><ul><li>Its only a small part of what goes on in a field </li></ul><ul><li>Its what controls tenure, hence controls faculty </li></ul><ul><li>Its largely controlled by content publishers, not content creators </li></ul><ul><li>Oh yeah, now there’s audio, video, notebooks, etc </li></ul>
  7. 7. A Brief Historical Digression… <ul><li>The current publishing and distribution model is a historical aberration from the Industrial Age </li></ul><ul><li>The facilitators are often now the bottlenecks </li></ul><ul><li>Their business model and your awareness model are largely incompatible (scarcity vs. plenty) </li></ul><ul><li>Passive consumption of your own creative works is perverse (and copyright law keeps getting worse) </li></ul><ul><li>Performance is the new eminence - reputations need to be retooled regularly & anyone can be a star </li></ul><ul><li>Read Glut, Small Pieces Loosely Joined for more </li></ul>
  8. 8. What We Did (and why) We started with our existing Online Journals list
  9. 9. What We Did (and why) We divided the feeds by subject/discipline
  10. 10. What We Did (and why) We created OPML bundles and working links for “top” journals in a field/discipline
  11. 11. What We Did (and why) And for all journals we had full text access to in a field/discipline
  12. 12. What We Did (and why) The really sexy part – custom processing of the feeds to add formatting and social tools using SimplePie
  13. 13. Why OPML Bundles? Use them wherever you prefer – Google Reader, Bloglines, Thunderbird, etc. No product or site lock-in here!
  14. 14. But Wait, There’s More! While we’re at it why not add news feeds?
  15. 15. But Wait, There’s More! And perhaps some podcasts while we’re here?
  16. 16. But Wait, There’s More! And even some self-study tools for the independent learner!
  17. 17. What about non-text content? The UW School of Medicine & Public Health provides access to many videos for free
  18. 18. What about non-text content? You can subscribe to those too!
  19. 19. Where We’re Going Next <ul><li>Custom bundles, maybe a shopping cart </li></ul><ul><li>Smart feeds using Yahoo Pipes </li></ul><ul><li>Feeds are fine but gadgets make us giddy </li></ul><ul><li>Toolbars are a great community tool </li></ul><ul><li>Scripts can add functionality even to other people’s sites </li></ul><ul><li>Mobile makes sense for many types of content and communication tools </li></ul><ul><li>Creation of group tools, individual tools and hybrids </li></ul><ul><li>Avoiding the “Epic 2014 trap” </li></ul>
  20. 20. Gadgets! We provide a selection of gadgets we’ve created and other select health gadgets (NLM, CDC, etc)
  21. 21. Gadgets! Create your own portal, and let your content mix and mingle with other people’s
  22. 22. Toolbars! Organize your most popular resources for a specific audience and pull together disparate things in one tidy package EBM Toolbar General Library Toolbar
  23. 23. A Modest Proposal… <ul><li>Lets start building tools to stay on top of this stuff, and make them freely available </li></ul><ul><li>Let’s work on redefining what it means to be “on top of” or “ready for” a field (libraries used to think they could have “all the important stuff” – it’s a bottomless pit) </li></ul><ul><li>Small nimble tools and über-portals of death can complement each other nicely </li></ul><ul><li>Open source is nice but standards and access are the key (APIs, metadata, standards-based development). Amazon makes money, eh? </li></ul>
  24. 24. How Can You Help? <ul><li>Make feeds available whenever possible </li></ul><ul><li>Ask vendors and developers for open APIs </li></ul><ul><li>If you know people who’d like to collaborate on tool development or data storage let us know </li></ul><ul><li>Remember your friendly neighborhood librarian or geek – we like money but live to solve problems </li></ul>
  25. 25. That’s all - thanks! <ul><li>[email_address] (me) </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] (my partner in crime) </li></ul><ul><li> (feeds page) </li></ul><ul><li> (feeds project) </li></ul><ul><li> (toolbars, gadgets, plugins) </li></ul>Images courtesy of: PBS (Clockwork Orange - ) Public Health Image Library (Osborne computer #6442 - ) Garner’s Classics (2001 monolith - )