Friday, May 02, 2008

Schrage's Revised Law of 'Library' Networks

I have kept up on the happenings at the MIT Media Lab ever since I read Stewart Brand's The Media Lab nearly (gulp!) twenty years ago. One individual who cycled through the lab is Michael Schrage.

Schrage (author of an excellent book on innovation called Serious Play) has had a few interesting quotes over the years. The one I feel that is relevant to libraries is called Schrage's Law of Networks:

"The surest way to add value to a network is to connect it to another network"
Schrage was thinking about/referring to social networks when he came up with this 'law.' However, I feel it also applies to computer networks, consortium, etc. Replacing the word "network" with the phrase "library information system" a revised quote becomes:

"The surest way to add value to a library information system is to connect it to another library information system"

Creating new relationships between library information systems creates new relationships between information. New relationships between information sources/content then can help create new knowledge. Simply put, libraries can add value to each of our information systems by interconnecting them and the content.

Exposing and syndicating our content so it can be brought out of one information system into another will allow library customers create new relationships between information/knowledge. For example, exposing institutional repository content would enable customers to discoverable/findable from within the ILS or as learning objects within course management systems.

This is exactly the kind of information mashup/knowledge creation that service oriented architecture can help libraries achieve.

Sphere: Related Content


Owen said...

I'm not sure your translation of the phrase to libraries is totally correct. Network is a generic phrase, so if we regard 'library information system' as the first 'network' in the phrase, the second 'network' is any network, not necessarily another library system.

I don't disagree that value can be added by connecting two library information systems together - but we see too much insular thinking around library systems - we should be thinking about connecting them to other systems, and that, for me, is the surest way to add value.

Eric Schnell said...

I agree!! However, libraries tend to treat each library system as if it were on it's own network. The ILS is separated from the institutional repository which is separated from the learning management system. My position is that libraries can learn to connect with other networks by first learning to connect their own "networks" (information silos) together.