February 18, 2008

Web 2.You recap

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I was in Montreal this past weekend for a CLA Montreal Chapter/McGill SIS sponsored event called Web 2.You. It was a great event with lots of really terrific presentations. My session, on Blogging for Professional Development, went pretty well with lots of good questions and discussion. It was interesting that the audience seemed to want to talk about using blogs as a way to reach out to patrons as much as reaching out to each other. Hmmmm. Maybe next time.

In any case, for any of the session attendees who have your own blogs or were inspired to start your own blog after hearing the sessions, please let me know either by email (jdupuis at yorku dot ca) or in the comments so I spread a little link love.

For what it's worth, the Google Docs slides are here, as well as being embedded below.

I'd certainly like to thank Jocelyne Andrews and all the organizing "committee" for inviting me to speak; I had a great time and really enjoyed the chance to meet new people and talk about library stuff. As well, I was really happy that it turned out to be a mini-reunion for my McGill Library School class of 2000 as Will Meredith, Andrea Harland and Jeff Lilburn showed up!

So, you ask, what were the other presentations?

Is Boolean Dead? Researching and the New Web
by Rajiv Johal & Beth Dunning. A great session, focusing on what users today might be expecting when they see one of those empty search boxes. Strict boolean searches, like we librarians love so much? Or perhaps a more Google-like experience? We know from OPAC studies that the situation is a bit grim, and that users tend to use very short natural language queries. If our users prefer intuitive interfaces, wanting to always find some relevant very quickly, how do we make our choices relevant and fast? There's not clear definition of Search 2.0, but some ideas include faceted search and tag clouds, moving away from traditional boolean and more towards a Google or Amazon feel.

Visual search like Redzee gives previews and is family friendly. Human assisted search like ChaCha has paid guides to help with searches. Like Google CSE, RollYO allows custom configuring of sites to search. Drupal and Evergreeen are open sources ILSs. The Aquabrowser interface used by the UChicago and Queenslibrary.org is also very interesting in the way it sits on top of the ILS. Even academic databases like Factiva and Ebsco are using faceted and other search 2.0 features.

Some thoughts to take away: it's not about us, it's about adapting to our users needs. We should all just play around a little with these cool new tools.

A Second Life for your Library by Amy Buckland & Jan Dawson. A terrific introduction to what Second Life is and what's going on in the library world of SL. It's not a game, first of all, but a vitual environment. There are often as many as 55K people logged in at any one time. It's all user-developed. Who are "in-world?" Commerce, education (Harvard, McMaster) government, non-profits, health orgs, culture (U2, Suzanne Vega), news orgs (Reuters). Why should libraries be in-world? Educational orgs have moved in and libraries need to be there to support educational mission, it is another point of access for our users, we can also offer info that may be censored in user's countries. Some challenges: technology issues, need high speed; quite a long learning curve to get good at navigation; griefers who harass and annoy users and the empty world syndrome ie. a very large virtual world where 50K can seem very small.

Next was a long demo of what SL looks like and exploring different islands and functionality.

Web2.0, Library 2.0, and Librarian 2.0 by Jessamyn West was a great introduction to what We 2.0 is all about, especially for those in the room that might not have heard about it before. What was really great was that it wasn't so much technology focused but more focused on the attitude we should take to exploring new technological possibilities in our libraries. Showing people that tech doesn't have to be hard, we need to keep in mind that the digital divide is real and in our communities. What is library 2.0? It's like obscenity, you know it when you see it. We need to remember accessibility for disabled people as well as for elderly, easily confused to merely inexperienced. 2.0 is a user centred model, user generated content, trust your users, evaluate frequently and make use of patron input. L2 is not a "what" but a "how."

Avoid data & functional silos, ie. no static links to catalogue records. We need to remember what easy to use looks like and aim for that; we can look at Coha. Get it all on the web -- libx is a good example. Use wikis to replace reference binders, use booktalk site. We need to demand usability from vendors but we also have to take responsibility for giving constructive feedback. We need to use solid web standard development techniques. L2 is not a religion, it's a way of making stuff interactive and more feedback oriented.

Update 2008.02.19:
As promised, some blogs. Check 'em out!

1 comment:

Graham Lavender said...

Hi John,

I thoroughly enjoyed your talk - thanks! You were the inspiration for my brand new blog (which I see you've already linked to, thanks).