Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Is Media Personalization Bad for Society?

I subscribed to Nicholas Carr's Rough Type last week after reading about it over at Lorcan Dempsey's weblog. Carr's most recent work is Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google.

While the first part of Big Switch has been drawing the most attention (describing how the Internet is transforming computing into a centrally supplied utility), I found Carr's comments in an interview about blogging /citizen journalism more interesting:
"user-generated content does not exist in a vacuum. It competes with other content, and because it's cheap to produce and usually given away free it has a big market advantage. You have to ask yourself what's going to be crowded out of the market - what good stuff are we going to lose. A lot of people seem to think that new digital media represents a break from mainstream mass media. I don't see it that way. I think new media represents a continuation of mass media and a further amplification of some of mass media's worst qualities.

"I think what we're going to see is greater personalization in search and other filtering and navigation tools, and in time that will tend to further reinforce biases and push people to have less sympathy for views that are different from their own. I think media personalization is good for search engines and advertisers. I don't think it's a great thing for society.

"I think the best way to learn to write well is to read a lot, particularly when you're young and impressionable. If you want to write for a living on the web, your best bet is to find a niche market that's attractive to advertisers, start a blog, and then work like hell. You'll still probably fail, but you never know."
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Thursday, February 21, 2008

ResearchBlogging at NISO Conference

I will be co-presenting “ResearchBlogging.org: A Peer-Review Research Discovery System.” along with with Dave Munger at the Next Generation Discovery: New Tools, Aging Standards being held March 27-28, 2008 in Chapel Hill, NC.

From the conference site:
Discovering scholarly information and data is essential for research and use of the content that the information community is producing and making available. The development of knowledge bases, web systems, repositories, and other sources for this information brings the need for effective discovery -- search-driven discovery and network (or browse) driven discovery -- tools to the forefront. With new tools and systems emerging, however, are standards keeping pace with the next generation of tools? What's coming up and where might standards fit to assist in this arena? The forum will include both a look at the current state of discovery tools and at new visions of what these tools might look like in the next several years.

Other confirmed presenters include Peter Murray (OhioLink), IEEE's Karen Hawkins (scitopia.org), Michael Winkler (PennTags), and Richard Akerman (opening keynote). It is turning into a pretty interesting conference. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Vanishing Librarian? Sound the Alarms!

John Berry's Library Journal article has been making the rounds internally here. Sound the alarms!? Nope. Either I am missing all the uproar on the blogs about this article, or there simply isn't any. The editorial is so misguided that I am not going to spend any time arguing the points made. Maybe others are feeling the same way.

As AL comments on the LJ site: "Is this John Berry or Michael Gorman!?!"

OK. One point.

Libraries need to take a lesson from the train industry, who met their demise because they thought they were in the business of trains, not transportation. Libraries can no longer afford to view themselves as being in the business of libraries; we are in the information business. As such, our organizations need to create innovative products, services, process, management styles, and organizational structures in order to remain relevant. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Winner Is: Blu-ray by .5 mm

I am not one to spend too much time revisting my past tech trends to highlight when I have been right, let alone wrong. However, here is one I made almost three years ago. In one of my very first posts on this blog, I stated:

...Sony may have learned its lesson and Blu-ray's larger recording capacity will win out.

Toshiba has announced it will stop producing HD-DVD players. Samsung will drop HD DVD and focus on Blu-ray production as well. Microsoft is already working on a Blu-ray Xbox 360 and dumping HD DVD by May. Sony has indeed learned their lesson from the Betamax.

As was the case with Betamax, Blu-ray IS the better technology.

Originally called DVR-Blue, Blu-ray's thinner coating is the reason behind behind the disc's higher capacity. An HD DVD disc calls for a 0.6 millimeter coating, while a Blu-ray disc requires 0.1 millimeters. Since the laser travels through a thinner layer of resin, it's able to focus more sharply and write 67 percent more data onto the disc itself. One single-layer Blu-ray disc can hold about 25 GB or over two hours of HD video plus audio, and the dual-layer disc can hold approximately 50 GB. They have already demonstrated 200 GB eight-layer technology.

The new challenge is to educate consumers why Blu-ray doesn't look good on non-HD displays.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Social Operating Systems

As has been reported elsewhere, the 2008 Horizon Report is out. The report describes a qualitative research effort that seeks to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have a large impact on teaching, learning, or creative expression within learning-focused organizations. The meta-trends are described in more detail on the Horizon Project wiki where anyone can participate in the discussion.

One of the items item that caught my eye was on Social Operating Systems:

The essential ingredient of next generation social networking, social operating systems, is that they will base the organization of the network around people, rather than around content. This simple conceptual shift promises profound implications for the academy, and for the ways in which we think about knowledge and learning. Social operating systems will support whole new categories of applications that weave through the implicit connections and clues we leave everywhere as we go about our lives, and use them to organize our work and our thinking around the people we know.

The emergence of anytime, anywhere access has led to the growth of social computing and social networking in both teaching and learning. (Although, the report also indicates a widening gap between the student and teacher in understanding technology and the expectation of how it is used.) While some may view social networking as more of a fad rather then a trend, I believe social networking will continue to be a major influence in our knowledge seeking patterns.

There are two issues I have with the current state of social networking affairs:

Profile Management. It seems that each of my social networks have chosen to use a different system to build their network. As a result, I have profiles on many social networking-type sites including Ning, Facebook, LinkedIn, and our local expertise system. I can't be the only one that is getting tired of creating profiles for all the various sites and then remembering to change the photo on all of them when I change it on one.

The solution may be a default profile standard that can be used so one can plug into the various services. This profile standard is an approach that Tim O'Reilly blogged about. O'Reilly also indicated that to happen, applications like Facebook will have to focus on interoperability with other providers of social graph data. The concept calls for a profile system that is independent of the social networking service providers. I must not be the only one that looks forward to the day I have an open portable identity (OPI?).

Unconnected Networks. Since many of my networks and profiles exist in different systems, I have to remember to visit each one to keep in touch. This is not very efficient and in essence creates a network of unconnected networks. Can you say The Department of Redundancy Department? My ability to utilize the power of each of my networks should not require these multiple touch points.

Creating a social network around a single service provider also creates a single point of failure. Such a social network would fail if the service it relies upon goes offline. Social networks not tied to a single service have no single points of failure. If one service fails, other members of the network can remain in contact using other communication paths. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, February 01, 2008

WorldCat Local is Here! (at Ohio State)

One of the hot topics on the library blogosphere in a past year or so has been about how the ILS is broken. I feel that the situation is of our own making since libraries continue to license monolithic and closed ILS systems, but I digress.

The Ohio State University Libraries is one of the groups that has been working with OCLC to pilot WorldCat Local. WorldCat Local creates a locally branded interface and the ability to search the entire WorldCat database. Well, there is finally something to see!

The first thing that jumped off the screen was the faceted browse! (Now, is that so hard to do?) It also presents the results beginning with items most accessible to the customer including collections from the home library, collections shared in a consortium (in our case OhioLINK), and open access collections. The system aggregates monographs, articles from databases and web resources.

After playing with Local for only 5 minutes I decided I may never use the native III interface again. Here's what a search of my name reveals. (Note: I know nothing about the role of PSD-95 in AMPA receptor clustering and synaptic plasticity or the optimization of a thermal transfer printer with ink layer reformation mechanism).

WorldCat Local is currently just an alternative discovery experience with OSU's III system still there in the background, with all the bibliographic data locked in. (I have always been unhappy with III. I also can't be the only one to think that the name Innovative Interfaces is a kind of a misnomer. I suspect we will see an SOA III system sometime in 2012. Once again, I digress.)

While Local still relies upon a local ILS installation, I see this as the first step in demonstrating how an ILS can be built by decoupling the pieces. With a more modular approach to ILS design, each of the services (circulation, authentication) and the presentation layer could be replaced or updated with minimal impact on the overall system/service.

With such an ILS a library could assemble a custom system built on top of the OCLCV bibliographic database. Such a system would not have to rely upon a built-in services, but could 'plug in' modules from commercial vendors or build them locally (or consortium --wide). Locally maintained bibliographic data could then be mashed up with the OCLC data and would not be embedded like a monolithic ILS, allowing it to be maintained over generations regardless of the changes made to the other modules.

Make sure to give OSU's WorldCat Local a try and please make sure to fill out a survey.

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