Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Tom Sanville Resigns as OhioLINK Executive Director

In my in box yesterday morning was the news that Tom Sanville has submitted his resignation as Executive Director of OhioLINK, effective March 31.

The OhioLink system has grown and flourished primarly because of Tom's leadership (and by hiring a very talented staff!). When I came to Ohio State in 1992, OhioLINK was still crawling. The OhioLink system consisted of an ILS that included catalog creation and maintenance; the online public access catalog; circulation, interlibrary loan, and document delivery; acquisitions and serials control; and collection development and management.

While the OhioLink Library Catalog is still a centerpiece, the system now includes databases, a Digital Media Center, an E-Book Center, an Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center, and the Electronic Journal Center.

Just recently, I came across an old 1998 talking points document where I was touting the 1400 electronic journal titles made available to our users via OhioLink, from two publishers - Elsevier Science and Academic Press. (see: Diedrichs, CP. E-journals: the OhioLINK experience) By last year, the Electronic Journal Center contained more than 8,200 full-text research journals (12.2 million articles) from 100+ publishers.

Tom's reach went well beyond Ohio. If you are a part of a consortium that licenses electronic journals you should also thank Tom for his service. He was one of the pioneers in the establishment of consortium pricing from publishing giants like Elsevier. It is possible that one of the license agreements you have signed today (did I mention pricing?) grew from Tom's adept negotiation skills.

The text of his email announcement:

"I have submitted my resignation to Eric Fingerhut, Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, as Executive Director of OhioLINK. This will be effective March 31, 2010. This should ensure a full transfer of my almost 18 years of knowledge and files to other staff.

After my long tenure as director, this was a very difficult decision for me but I believe its the right one for me at this time. With the continued evolution of an integrated Educational Technology infrastructure and the OhioLINK staff’s role in it, and with the establishment of key strategic projects as reflected in the OhioLINK Fall 2009 Update, this is an appropriate time to resign my position and to seek new challenges.

In accepting my resignation the Chancellor has been gracious in recognizing that “OhioLINK is a wonderful example of the collaborations possible when many institutions work together with the support of the state to share resources and reduce costs. Your formative leadership in this effort is widely acknowledged and greatly appreciated… As educational technology and the format of academic materials rapidly changes, OhioLINK will be called on to play a critical role inexpanding the availability of new resources to all academic institutions and directly to students and faculty.”

The job of OhioLINK will never be done. It has been my greatest professional experience to have worked with the OhioLINK community and staff in building a world recognized library consortium. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to serve with so many wonderful colleagues and friends over the years."

Thank you, Tom, for sharing your vision and service to the state and the library profession.

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Monday, January 04, 2010

Is a Twitterfarm Pranking the Jester?

One of the more interesting discussions I have read since rebooting from a long vacation has been the Twitter weirdness uncovered by the Disruptive Library Technology Jester (a.k.a Peter Murray)

It all started when the Jester authored a blog post detailing his ALA Midwinter meeting plans. It appears that others have been constructed tweets that consist of his blog post headlines with links back to his postings. This practice has increased dramatically in the past few weeks.

The Jester uses a WordPress plugin to inject posts into his Twitter stream. He runs the BackType service to uncover commentary found in other social media sites so they can be added as comments to his postings. It was the BackType service which alerted the Jester to the Twitter updates.

In all cases, the Twitter IDs used are unlike those of other spammers. The account names did not contain a string of numbers and had numerous followers. The Jester did notice one thing in common with all of these updates: they came from the Twitterfeed service.

The Jester speculates that these users are grabbing his blog post feed using Twitterfeed and are then syndicating it into their own Twitter streams. He has since analyzed this hypothesis and uncovered other blogs which are also being tweeted by others.

What is interesting is that the tweets of the Jester's blog post headlines are not spam in of themselves. The shortened URLs to his posts do not redirect the user to spam sites, but instead go to the original posts. However, the Twitter profiles of some of them contain profile URLs for spam.

In the comments of the Jesters post, D0r0th34 speculates and Mr. Gunn concurs, that the prank being performed on the Jester sounds like a Twitterfarm, a la Google linkfarm. Mr. Gunn observes:
"Many of the follower qualification tools use follower ratios to determine spamminess of followers. Additionally, there’s a parallel in "macro" blogging where presumptive search engine spiders are really just post harvesters. The point is to provide real or whitelisted content for getting around spam filters, increasing pagerank, or making it look like a twitter account has real non-spam content."
So, while the Jester's posts are not being used to propagate spam per say, it appears they are being used to make spammer user profiles look, well, a lot less spammy. I guess in a weird way that should make the Jester feel good. His content is good enough to make it around spam filters.

Still, it could be troubling for the Jester if the additional posts directed to his blog flag it for banning/autobury by those sites that keep a lookout for those who post too much (e.g. Digg).
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