Welcome to Online Insider ...
... the editorial blog by Marydee Ojala, Editor of ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals. ONLINE Insider intends to extend the reach of the print publication, presenting a more timely commentary on the products, people, and events that shape today's online world. It explores new technologies as they impact the working lives of information professionals, explains resources for specific topic areas, and expounds on information management tools and techniques.

NFAIS in Philly

Marydee Ojala @ 8:45 am

I’m in Philadelphia the beginning of this week for the NFAIS meeting. It actually starts this afternoon, Sunday, and runs through Tuesday. I haven’t been to too many of these, and I’m told they’ve changed character since the first one I attended back in the late 1980s. I won’t be blogging the conference here. Dick Kaser and I will be “team blogging” at the Infotoday Blog Web site. So go take a look over there for coverage.

RIP RLG’s ShelfLife

Marydee Ojala @ 9:45 am

This is discouraging news. RLG’s ShelfLife electronic newsletter is ceasing publication with #195, February 24, 2005. According to Jim Michalko, RLG’s CEO, it no longer fits with the organization’s “overall communication strategy.” Michalko praises the NewsScan editors, John Gehl and Suzanne Douglas, but the newsletter they now produce at their own site really doesn’t cover library issues as did ShelfLife. Perhaps we can convince them to resuscitate ShelfLife without RLG support.

End of OSN Conference

Marydee Ojala @ 9:33 am

The Online Social Networks 2005 Conference ended on Wednesday, although the site will remain up for registered attendees until the end of February. Participants will receive a CD-ROM of the archived comments, not exactly a conference proceedings, but as close as you can get with a gathering such as this.

There were, theoretically, 450 people registered for OSN05, but it seemed much smaller. Some people were online all the time, others (like me) didn’t spend all that much time reading the messages. I thought it interesting that the second largest number of posts (172) in the Cafe was on the topic of “Intelligence and Journalism.” The largest was the Introductions (234) but that’s not 234 unique introductions, as many people responded to someone else’s personal introduction. The Library Table had some interesting posts, but there were only 37 of them. Thought-provoking were comments from non-librarians about the tendency of libraries to concentrate on collections rather than community. Librarians point to the growing pains libraries are experiencing. Some librarians are way ahead of their user groups, in a technological sense, and are both committed to an older, preservation-minded model, while embracing online access through wifi, email, chat, etc.

The third week of the conference was supposed to concentrate on “Where do we go from here?” I think by this time, people were getting tired. Three weeks is a long time, even for a virtual conference. I didn’t really hear a consensus on future actions; suggestions seemed rather tame to me.

March/April ONLINE

Marydee Ojala @ 8:32 am

The March/April issue of ONLINE showed up in my mailbox yesterday. I hope all subscribers got theirs as well. The cover story is desktop search. There’s also articles on the TEACH Act, company research using U.S. government sources, open access and Scopus. Columnists were interested in local search, economics, webmasters, library funding, disaster planning, and “squishy Boolean.”

Information Today’s new policy is to put only one item on the magazine’s web site as free full text, but you can go to ITI InfoCentral to get free abstracts. Articles can be purchased for a mere $2.95. Why does that suddenly strike me as sounding like the airlines’ new “buy on board” meals?

SLA’s "Report Card"

Marydee Ojala @ 8:28 am

At the SLA’s Leadership Summit in Tampa in January a two page summary of SLA’s
annual performance review of 2004
was circulated. Several people referred to it as a “report card.”

It provides an excellent summary of what was achieved during the year. You don’t need to be a member to read SLA’s self assessment.

TransAtlantic Wireless

Marydee Ojala @ 6:32 pm

I dropped into the OSN Cafe for a minute (not much seems to happen at this conference over weekends) and learned that an attendee had logged in from a translantic SAS flight. Wow! I sure wish SAS had had wireless on board when I went to Denmark last September. Of course, I probably wouldn’t have slept. Hmmm,wireless versus sleep. Let me think about that.

Motley Fool says, "Throw Mamma From the Train"

Marydee Ojala @ 4:27 pm

Throw Mamma From the Train is a cutesy title even by my standards. The news item refers to metasearch engine Mamma.com and its stock price gyrations. According to Rick Aristotle Munarriz, only a day after the price “soared on buyout rumors, the company’s auditor refuses to back the company’s financial and Mamma.com is forced to delay the filing of its 2004 results, possibly beyond next month’s deadline.” Definitely not good news Mamma, which announced its intent to acquire Copernic Technologies only 2 1/2 months ago. Over the past year, Mamma’s stock price has seen a low of 3.7 and a high of 17.49.

Shoring Up Traditional Online

Marydee Ojala @ 2:22 pm

Some days it seems to me that the traditional online vendors have become invisible. When they were new, 30 years ago, information professionals were eager to learn every possible nuance of their features, content, and future plans. Today, I fear, we take traditional online for granted and have turned our eager attention to the Web search engines. So I was delighted to read John Blossom’s post yesterday Business Valentine: LexisNexis and Factiva Up the Romance for Business Content Users which talked about “new sources, functionality and market targeting” from LN and Factiva. Also mentioned in his analysis were OneSource, now owned by infoUSA, and D&B. Although I understand the necessity for the traditional vendors to go after new markets, I hope they don’t take their information professional customer base for granted.

Online Social Networks 2005 – Week 2

Marydee Ojala @ 1:38 pm

This is the second day of OSN05 and the beginning of the session I was interested in the most. It’s over in the Individuals track and it’s called “The Library Blogosphere: Toward a Working Taxonomy.” The session began with a presentation by Michael Stephens and Aaron Schmidt, available both as HTML and PDF. There are 53 slides plus a handout and (hey, they are librarians, after all) a bibliography. The presentation will look familiar to anyone who’s seen these guys in person speaking at conferences, but there’s always some new twist. For this online conference, the new stuff is probably more in the conversations that follow presentations. The presentations merely serve to jumpstart the conversation. So far, the library blogosphere track has discussed conference blogging, how libraries use blogs and social software to “engage their community,” instant messaging, and subject guide categories. I’m sure there will be more to come.

Jon (not John) Glick at Become

Marydee Ojala @ 1:59 pm

Funny thing about Web-borne information, it moves very quickly. When Jason Dowdell at WebProNews mentioned that John Glick (Yahoo) had taken a new job at Become.com, other blogs excitedly picked up the news, spread it, and linked to the original post. From the attention paid, you’d think Jon moved from Yahoo to Become this morning. No one seemed to notice that it’s Jon not John. And he’s been at Become for over 2 weeks. The other funny thing about Web-borne information is its fluidity. Whether you search for Jon or John, you’re likely to find Mr. Glick. You’ll also, however, find a VP of Power Transmission for Lufkin Industries in Lufkin, Texas, but that’s another story. Unlike traditional online search engines such as Dialog, which is completely literal and where a search for John will not find Jon, the Web is more forgiving. Like traditional online, it’s still up to the searcher to scrutinize results and be the ultimate arbitrator of relevancy and reliability.

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