The rise of platforms could see off the web


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Libraries anxious to improve their relevance to students have been busy, over the last couple of years, purchasing vertical search/discovery service solutions. In ‘the rise of platforms could see off the web‘ Ken Chad analyses this in the wider context of the the rise of global platforms and ‘apps’.

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The rise of platforms could see off the web

  1. 1. The rise of platforms could see off the webBy Ken Chad. December 2010 in CILIP Libraries+Information Gazette. 2nd December 2010. Reprinted with permission)One of the key library system product services claim to improve the usage ofdirections identified in Sconul’s Higher resources thereby further increasing theEducation Library Technology (HELibTech) value of library collections (and decreasingwebsite is vertical search. ‘By launching cost per use). Michael Gersch, Senior Vicevertical search products... vendors are President and General Manager of Serialsbanking that their approach provides Put simply it is argued that the more yousufficient added value over Google or use library resources the better degreeMicrosoft approaches’. 1 you will get.Libraries anxious to improve their relevance Solutions, says: ‘Some librarians state thatto students have been busy, over the last since the implementation of the Summoncouple of years, purchasing such solutions – service in their libraries, use of certainAquaBrowser, Primo, Encore, Summon and journals has increased more than 100 perEbsco Discovery Service. The main benefit cent.’3that such services provide is unified searchacross print and electronic library resources. The new wave of vertical search/discoveryAn underlying assumption is that library services works in a significantly different wayresources (as opposed to generality of to earlier (‘metasearch’) approaches. They harvest and aggregate data to create a single, ‘By launching vertical search products... unified index rather than sending search vendors are banking that their approach requests (e.g. via the Z39.50 protocol) to a provides sufficient added value over range of separate remote Google or Microsoft approaches’. databases/catalogues. This enables much faster response times. But there is more to it.content on the open web) are of higher Vertical search applications are provided asquality and more relevant because they have ‘software-as-a service’ (SaaS). So all thosebeen selected to meet the specific needs of Summon implementations are actually onestudents and researchers. big database ‘out there’ in the (internet) cloud. As a result, vendors are creating vastPut simply it is argued that the more you use data warehouses that can take advantage oflibrary resources the better degree you will the ‘collective intelligence’ potential thatget. Looking at degrees awarded at the such huge aggregations offer. Like AmazonUniversity of Huddersfield, Dave Pattern they can better track how resources are usedreported: ‘Those who achieved a first on and provide additional features such asaverage borrowed twice as many items as recommender services. ExLibris already offersthose who got a third and logged into... e- such a service (bX)4 for electronic resources.resources 3.5 times as much’.2 Vertical search Other vendors are sure to follow. But will1 3 See The Summon™ Service Passes the 100 Customer2 See Library usage and final grades. By Dave Pattern. Mark.’ SerialsSolutions Press Release. 13th Self-Plagiarism is Style: Dave Patterns blog. Jun September 2010 30th, 2010. summon/ 4 rise of platforms could see off the web Page 1 By Ken Chad. December 2010
  2. 2. these library-centric services be able to available on Flickr because this hascompete successfully for the attention of advantages over a dedicated website. ‘Weusers, which is going to fewer and fewer see Flickr Commons as a way of making theseplaces? images accessible to a wider community, and also as a way of enabling people to shareAccording to the web analytics company their knowledge and their thoughts aboutCompete, the top 10 websites in the world them.’7 Platforms make life easier. Theyhave accounted for 75 per cent of US page provide a ready-made low cost (often free)views so far this year, up from 31 per cent in infrastructure to discover and share2001. ‘In March [2009] the average American resources. You don’t need to buy specialisedvisited a mere 111 domains and 2,500 web software or expensive hardware. It is all The top 10 websites in the world have managed in the cloud. accounted for 75 per cent of US page views They also support access from mobile technologies. Within five years, Morganpages, according to Nielsen Online. What’s Stanley projects, ‘…the number of usersworse our attention across these pages is accessing the Net from mobile devices willhighly fragmented. The average time spentper page is 56 seconds. Portals and search Mobile access is increasingly based onengines dominate, capturing approximately dedicated ‘apps’ rather than a generic12 of the 75 hours spent online in March. browser.However, people-powered sites like surpass the number who access it from PCs.’8Wikipedia, Facebook and YouTube are not far Mobile access is increasingly based onbehind, snagging nearly 4.5 hours of our dedicated ‘apps’ rather than a genericmonthly attention.’5 I suspect that UK browser. Some are arguing that the web asbehaviour follows a similar trend and I think such is dying and instead we’ll have a ‘Net’it’s safe to say that library websites barely monopolised by a few global app-basedfigure at all in the data. Even students and services. And content won’t be free. ‘We’llresearchers often start with Google. Many pay for convenience and reliability, which islibrarians have, for some time, acknowledged why iTunes can sell songs for 99 cents despitethis trend and are making resources the fact that they are out there, somewhere,discoverable on these global platforms. in some form, for free. The iTunes toll is aStudents and researchers can get directed to small price to pay for the simplicity of justlibrary e-journals from a search on Google getting what you want’.9 Will library services,Scholar because the citation found in Google even if aggregated, get the attention of acan be connected by the library’s link resolver sufficient number of users?to the ‘appropriate copy’ (the one licensed bythe library) of the full- text journal article. 6 Ken Chad is CEO of Ken Chad Consulting ken@kenchadconsulting.comLibraries are taking advantage of otherplatforms, too. The London School ofEconomics made some of its digital archive5 7 ‘The End of the Destination Web Era. By Steve Rubel. 8 Micro Persuasion blog. May 03, 2009 The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet. By Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff 17th August 2010 the-destination-web-era.html Wired September 2010 edition.6 See ‘Google Scholar Library Links’ /all/1 9 ks.html IbidThe rise of platforms could see off the web Page 2 By Ken Chad. December 2010