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.

O’Reilly’s AnnoyancesCentral

Marydee Ojala @ 3:30 pm

This is a cute idea. Publisher O’Reilly is launching AnnoyancesCentral, a resource for “real world/real time” advice for all the stuff that can go wrong with your computer. Its got blogs from O’Reilly experts/authors, the “Daily Fix” to provide tips and tricks for fixing the stuff that went wrong, and rants from Robert Luhn, an O’Reilly executive editor. Plus, you get a free download of Onfolio’s RSS reader, version 2.0. Not only could this site be actually useful, it’s a clever promotional tool for the O’Reilly Annoyances book series, several of which have been reviewed by Deb Wiley in ONLINE.

Jessamyn’s Coming to Indiana

Marydee Ojala @ 12:37 pm

The Indiana Library Federation Reference Division Conference is bringing Jessamyn West to Indianapolis (OK, technically it’s Plainfield, Indiana) on September 16th. Also on the program is Michael Stephens. The program title is “How to Use Hot Technologies and Not Get Burned.”

Two of my favorite bloggers at a local library. How nice!

Sunday Morning in San Antonio

Marydee Ojala @ 6:12 pm

AALL exhibits opened this morning at 9 to the strains of a mariachi band, which is probably standard in the Southwest. The hall looks pretty full and there’s a good balance between the established legal information providers and smaller, newer companies. As of yesterday, according to AALL staff, there were 2020 attendees and 104 companies exhibiting.

I went to the session on treaties (Treaty-making–Really, Part II) at 10 a.m. Part I referred to a session given in Boston last year. Speakers Bob Dalton (State Department), Brian McKeon(US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations), and Bob Gee (Law Library of Congress) did a superb job of explaining treaties — how they’re different from agreements, where you can find them, what the role of the Senate is (advice and consent, only the president can ratify), and loads of other technicalities. They promised that the presentations would be available here .

Thomson Gale, according to the program, was hosting a Town Meeting on Digitization. Turns out it was invitation only, but Gale graciously allowed me to attend, even though I didn’t pre-register. Fred Shapiro said we were moving from the 1st wave of online, characterized by text, current information, and cases/statutes, to the 2nd wave, with images, historical documents, and books, treatises, briefs, etc. Mike Widener, from the University of Texas, talked about how digitization expands the role of librarians and lets us add finding aids to the collection. All this new data generates new reference questions and changes acquisitions. There’s a push to look at fringe materials. There’s “artifactural” value in the marginal, handwritten notes captured by the digitization of historical materials. He’d like to see something that indicates the physical size of the digitized document. Warren Billings, of the University of New Orleans, noted that we still don’t have search capability for scanned copies of handwritten documents. Wonderful though digitization is, he wondered if, in the future, it would mean scholars would never leave home to do their research, never visit “strange and wonderful” libraries.

Questions from the audience were about how to read handwriting from the 18th century (it’s a learned skill, apparently), how law review corrections (sent as tip-ins) are handled in the electronic product (didn’t really get a good answer to that one), quality of digitization (not too good when done directly from microform), and the importance of historical newspapers (no argument from anyone on this one).

I got so interested in all this food for thought that I never did get any lunch. Oh well.

AALL in San Antonio

Marydee Ojala @ 6:34 am

I’m off to San Antonio later today for the AALL (American Association of Law Librarians) annual meeting. There’s a blog for the conference, cleverly called the AALLamo blog. Super play on words, although Web search engines routinely ask, if you search AALLamo, “don’t you mean alamo?” Just goes to show that search engines do not understand puns. The TS-SIS (the technical services section of AALL) and started their own blog, separate from the main one. The AALLamo blog started a week before the conference. Posts were either about San Antonio (trivia, things to know about the area, touristy stuff) or about the conference itself (meeting notices, informal get-togethers). I think this is useful and something other conference blogs should consider.

Fulltext Sources Size Increase

Marydee Ojala @ 3:33 pm

Wow, the latest edition of Fulltext Sources Online arrived in the mail. It’s now 2 volumes and has added open access journals. For those concerned about shelf space (and weight), there’s an electronic alternative.

Technology Trendspotting

Marydee Ojala @ 8:53 pm

I spent this morning at a seminar on Technology Trendspotting, given by Joan Fry Williams and sponsored by INCOLSA. It was quite entertaining, with lots of audience participation. One of the points made was that libraries’ competition comes from the consumer world, not from other libraries. An example is self service. People swipe their cards to purchase gas and get their airline boarding passes — they expect to do the same to check out library books. Spotting trends, according to Williams, requires connecting the dots, noticing things outside the library that can be applied within the library. Technology has changed the way people define their groups — it’s no longer by geography but by affinity. We should be packaging knowledge by user demand, not by point of origin. Trust is important, but younger people are more likely to trust their network, their peers, rather than an institution.

I particularly liked her comment, “It’s OK to be imprecise and untidy.” Librarians do so want to be right all the time and when it comes to trends, nobody is correct every single time.

Her top five trends:
1. Convenience trumps quality
2. I’d rather do it myself
3. Trickle-up technology
4. Productivity still matters
5. Mass collaboration

VNU Purchases IMS

Marydee Ojala @ 8:10 pm

Big news for those in the pharmaceutical industry. IMS Health Inc., a major information provider with the most excellent ticker symbol of RX, will be acquired by Dutch-headquartered VNU. VNU also owns ACNielsen, Nielsen Media Research, several trade publications, and the Online Information trade show, to be held this year November 29 to December 1st. The U.S. business coverage of the purchase displayed a marked lack of ability to translate euros to dollars. The Chicago Tribune said $6.57 billion, the Boston Globe had $6.3 billion, and Reuters pegged it at $6.9 billion. The press release gave the price in euros (5.8 billion), which the companies converted to $7.0 billion.

John Blossom had an excellent analysis on his blog, speculating if this was the future of trade publishing. I found his comments particularly interesting since it ties in so well with an article I’m writing for ONLINE about the future of directory publishing.

IU SLIS Re-Accredited

Marydee Ojala @ 9:45 pm

Just heard that Indiana University SLIS (which includes the SLIS program at IUPUI) was granted re-accreditation. Good news!

Hoover’s Redesign

Marydee Ojala @ 4:03 pm

The Hoover’s Web site is now showing off its redesign. There’s a new logo, with the V in Hoovers looking a bit like a backwards check mark. Maybe that’s not a good way to describe it, but it’s what it looks like to me. And just to confuse editors, there’s no hyphen in the logo, but there is in the company name. That will doubtless throw my copy editor friends into a tizzy. And they’ve got a new tag line: “Intelligence. Insight. Results.”

More important is the structural change. The new design emphasizes the tasks for which business searchers use Hoover’s: Research Companies & Industries, Find Business People, and General Custom Lists. This seems sensible to me. It clarifies the search paths, in language aligned with business information needs. Although my main use of Hoover’s is looking up specific companies, I’d bet that generating lists is much more common usage. Hoover’s also says that they’ve tried to clarify what they mean by financial data, stress their depth of content, and better integrate data in the redesign. I need to play around with it a bit more to see how well it’s accomplishing its objectives.

The redesign is only for the free part of the site; the fee-based still looks the same.

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