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.

Business Models at NFAIS

Marydee Ojala @ 6:02 pm

After lunch, Nikki Green, Manager of the UK’s Eduserv Chest, gave us tips on how to sell into the UK higher education market, explaining some of the differences between the UK and the US. She went through various types of licensing agreements, noting that the site license was probably the most popular.

Hal Espo then led an informal panel discussion with John Barnes from Thomson Gale, Steven Goldstein from Alacra, Rob Granader from MarketResearch.com, and Eliot Pierce from Times Select, NYTimes,com. It was a wide-ranging discussion, with each explaining their product lines and how the Internet is affecting their businesses. They talked about customer demographics, using Google’s ad words program, the role of collaboration, and ended with what they might be saying next year.

The day ended with a presentation from Lee Rainie, Founding Director, Pew Internet & American Life Project, sharing some of the most recent research findings from the Project.

Libraries Embracing Change

Marydee Ojala @ 5:45 pm

How libraries are embracing change and the new information experience occupied the rest of the morning.

George Needham presented results from OCLC report “Perceptions of libraries and information resources.” Ten years ago no one knew what a search engine was. Now it blows everything else away. Trustiworthiness of libraries is pretty low compared with search engines. And 60% feel libraries and search engines provide the same level of trustworthiness.

Librarians have done a lousy job of communicating our value proposition, letting search engines grab mindshare, we need to learn how to do what we do better. End the priesthood of librarianship

Michael Miller, University of Michigan, Arts & Engineering Libraries, recapped what others had said about the born digital generation, then talked about digitization projects at his university. Deep Blue, their institutional repository, comprehensively collects all UMich intellectual output. They’re digitizing music, images (library slide collection), video (Shoah visual history archive), and more. The Information commons are evolving into learning commons. The library is looking beyond its walls and is becoming producer of information

The view of special libraries was presented by Melanie O’Neill, VP R&D Information, GlaxoSmithKline. Her main theme was managing information for the discovery and development of new medicines. GSK has a very mobile workforce and has closed physical libraries to create a virtual library.

GSK negotiated enterprisewide contracts to put information on the desktop. It’s no longer OK for a scientist to ask a librarian a question that can be answered at the desktop by resources purchased by the information department. On the GSK library portal, scientists are encouraged to use Google and Google Scholar. I’m rather shocked by that and, in answer to a question from the audience, O’Neill said it was very popular and heavily used.
Librarians are now analyzing information and are situated within project/strategy teams. There’s a major push to capture and manage proprietary information (e-lab books, e-archiving, records retention). She wants to blur the distinction between publicly published data and proprietary information, and mine proprietary data in same fashion as searching public sources. Breaking down the silos between libraries and archives is the goal.

Information Companies Embracing Change

Marydee Ojala @ 5:27 pm

Embracing Change: The Cultures, Structures and Mindsets of Nimble Organizations is the topic for the first session this morning. After last night’s Gala Reception in The Union League Library, the crowd here is remarkably bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, proving once again how resilient are the information industry denizens.

The day started off with Linda Sanford, who works for IBM in their Enterprise On Demand Transformation & Information Technology unit. She presented some depressing statistics on corporate growth rates and noted that the average life span of companies is only 20 years. Innovation, she thinks, is the key to success in the global economy. She then went through the five common attributes of uncommon people. They are:

1. Innovators re-imagine what they can be.
2. Get the right people on the bus and let them help decide where it should go.
3. Technology by itself doesn’t create innovation but it can be a great accelerator.
4. Innovators don’t go it alone.
5. Innovative organizations require innovative leaders.

David Turner, SVP of Finance, Thomson, then gave a case study on remaking a global 500 company. Reinvention was necessary because content used to be king, but isn’t anymore. It’s a commodity. The company divested itself of print newspapers and travel/leisure products to concentrate on electronic information. The vision was to move from being a content player to being a content plus software/services player, from the information publishing industry to the information services industry.

Thomson’s priorities during transformation were to redefine business models, align to create four strategic market groups, integrate acquisitions (otherwise you have competing silos), build infrastructure, reframe markets, and manage talent.

Their front-end customer strategy: Look for right customers (ask do we have the right customers, not do we have the right products? Pursue the highest growth opportunities segment by profitability). They want the right product; right price; right alignment; and right measurement for improvement.

OK, this makes me wonder if Thomson thinks that libraries are the “right customers.” Or are only some libraries the “right customers?”

Kevin Bouley, CEO of NERAC, then gave his own case study of transforming a company that looked like it was doing just fine. That’s harder. He hired a consultant to help them be innovative, but the staff was unable to grasp change. “Our minds had calcified. Ideas generated by staff weren’t innovative.”

He tried again a year later with more success. NERAC evolved from search and content to research solutions, It added opinion to research and took on a more analytical role. It began to focus on the customer not the product.

Rafael’s Flickr Spell Slide

Marydee Ojala @ 5:11 pm

I tried to get a good photo of Refael Sidi’s Spell with Flickr slide yesterday, but failed. He kindly shared his PowerPoint with me, so here’s what it looks like. Thanks, Rafael!

Librarian Bloggers Survey

Marydee Ojala @ 7:01 am

CW’s got a survey for blogging librarians at her blog . She’s hoping to present the results at ALIA’s biennial conference Click 06 . I always have trouble with these, since I’m never sure whether I qualify as a “librarian blogger” or not.

Carol Tenopir Gives Miles Conrad Lecture

Marydee Ojala @ 6:51 pm

Giving the annual Miles Conrad lecture, the University of Tennessee’s Professor Carol Tenopir, gave a spectacular talk titled “Building Bridges.” She had five main points. She spent the most time on the first point, with many examples from the research she’s conducted over the past 30 years with Don King.

1. The more you know about traffic patterns, the better your bridge will be.
Know your users
Predict future behavior
Think about their motivation for needing information
Development of feature leads to ideas for new features
People are reading more, but not spending as much time; they’re reading for major points, scanning, skimming – has implications for publishing and how to structure and format articles
There are many ways to locate information depending upon purpose of reading
Readings of older materials is increasing – more electronic backfiles available. Open access a factor? Moving into interdisciplinary courses/research needs backgrounding.
Age makes no difference
Subject discipline is a major source of differences (pediatricians read more and very recent articles than do astronomers who in turn read more than faculty overall)

2. Build lots of on ramps
New doesn’t replace old, just adds to it
Need to provide ubiquitous content to match ubiquitous computing
Libraries have done good job of building lots of onramps

3. It will never be perfect for the traffic
Will never be big enough
Expectations grow faster than you think
Digital products are never finished
They expect a feature to be there even if they almost never use it

4. The direct route may not be the strongest
People will pay for cable TV, sports ticket, entertainment, but won’t pay for information
Online companies that want to market directly to end user and avoid the middleman, the librarian. It doesn’t work. They won’t pay the bill directly.

5. The fastest way isn’t always the best
Sometimes it’s just the ride
Serendipity is part of R&D process
Allow the thought process to happen
Build beyond the search box

Her final thought: Don’t be the bridge to nowhere.

I think that final piece of advice applies both to information professionals/librarians and to the information producers who sell to them.

NFAIS, Day Two, Afternoon

Marydee Ojala @ 6:44 pm

The afternoon saw a program on Products, Services and Features that Deliver the Cool Factor with Rafael Sidi, Elsevier Engineering Information, moderating. He started by showing a Flickr drawing he’d created for the conference.

Howard Ratner, CTO, Nature Publishing Group, talked about how NPG unleashed content through RSS feeds and podcasting. As an aside about podcasting, he stressed that you shouldn’t just read content—that’s “shovelware.” Amazingly, the Nature podcast is for sale at iTunes and it’s in their top 500. He showed Connotea and noted that blogs and community forums are becoming very popular among scientists. Even the CEO of Macmillan, NPG’s parent company, Richard Charkin, now has a blog . And NPG’s got a cool mashup of Avian flu (with data gathered by Declan Butler) with Google Earth.

Greg Gomes then described WileyPLUS and played a Flash demo of the product. Looks to me like a good product for undergraduates who need to learn lots of facts, but I’m having trouble envisioning it as a critical thinking tool. Greg Merkle was braver. He ran a live demo of Factiva Search 2.0, pointing out how controversial the tag cloud part of it was. Some customers love it; others say “Get rid of it.” I’m part of the love contingent. Search 2.0 has some fascinating discover elements to it.

NFAIS, Day Two, Morning

Marydee Ojala @ 6:00 pm

Wouldn’t you know it, I skipped the first session this morning because I had some editing chores to finish up and many emails to make. With no connectivity in the NFAIS hotel conference room, the opportunities for multitasking are limited. I arrived just after the first coffee break to find that everyone was raving about the presentations on Creating the New Information Experience: The Product Development Process. Drat.

The second half of the Creating the New Information Experience was about Enabling Technologies. Bill Kules, Takoma Software, presented the results of the research he did for his PhD dissertation, which he just submitted. It’s about interfaces for exploratory search. He’s in favor of adding categorized overviews. Mouseovers are easier for people to grasp than typing. Categorization also exposes meaningful domain structure and increases connections between cognitive representations of user needs and search results.

I’m not sure how cool Kules is. He doesn’t seem to have listened to Stephen Abram yesterday. He’s in favor of lists and snippets, not fond of graphical representations of search results. As Stephen pointed out, people learn differently. Some folks, particularly the younger crowd, prefer visual to lists, no matter how hierarchical they are. I found his talk to be pretty retro. Here’s the Web site for his research.

Geoffrey Bilder, Scholarly Information Strategies, talked about “The Edge is the New Center.” In it he reviewed various social networking, Web 2.0 technologies. The old model was content at the center distributed out to various constituencies. The new model is contributions from those edge constituencies feeding the content at the center. He showed the Gartner hype cycle and put Web 2.0 at the top. Yet it’s not all hype. He mentioned the usual suspects on tagging, shared bookmarks, recommenders, and collaborative filtering. I didn’t find a whole lot new here. I liked his characterization of why people are interested in this. “I want to subscribe to your brain.” This part was important: So many of these business models are based on advertising, but he can run scripts that zap the ads. What does that do to your business model? Also important was the fact that many of these still operate as silos. Why can’t he buy something on eBay recommended by someone he trusts on Amazon?

John R. Smith, who wasn’t left a whole lot of time by the other speakers, did an admirable job of explaining his company’s research into searching of large multimedia repositories. He described MARVEL, Multimedia Analysis and Retrieval System, which is impressive. He talked about query by example (with audio, it could be query by humming) and benchmarking.

Content Unleashed at NFAIS

Marydee Ojala @ 8:47 am

The NFAIS annual conference started yesterday. What a change for me from last year, when Dick Kaser and I live-blogged it for its full 2 and a half day run. We were exhausted! And I’m not missing the dial-up connection at the Ritz Carlton one bit. So don’t expect wall to wall coverage this year, I’m just giving some impressions of the conference.

It’s always amazing to see a full conference room on a Sunday afternoon. But NFAIS manages it year after year. Linda Beebe, American Psychological Association, is welcoming us. The idea for the program committee was, “How do we get to be cool.” It required a stretch for them. Remember that this is an association that’s been around since the 1950s.

Content Unleashed is a perfect topic for Grokker’s R. J. Pittman since his visualization technology unleashed content in a very nontraditional way. He’s been told not to talk about Grokker, which is sort of a shame. The talk started with a remembrance of book stores that shelved their wares by publisher rather than topic. He then explained about today’s millennials.

Here’s my notes on his talk. These are his words and thoughts, not mine:

The millennials are born digital. They don’t have a home phone number (it’s mobiles, texting). They don’t write letters, they send emails and IM. They don’t read instructions. They don’t wait (expect instant gratification). They don’t walk to the library, at least not first. They Google, IM, flickr, blog, Starbucks, wifi, netflix, and they wikipedia.

Their eworld is filled with new digital information, they’re bombarded with services. What’s driving the change is huge advances in power, storage, display, and bandwidth. OLED keyboard where each key is a screen, function keys become Firefox, iTunes, Mozilla, Photoshop, etc. and keyboard could change when you hit a particular web site. Another driver is China, building its digital society from the ground up, where more web searches are done on mobile phone than on PC.

New world order of XUL, HTML 4.0, CSS2 and CSS3, DOM2 and DOM3, XML, etc. XUL is visual markup language. Look at iTunes’ Songbird, which is completely virtual and wired into other devices. Could work as a research dashboard for articles and abstracts. Music and video are hard, and we can do this, why aren’t the publishers doing it?

Interesting gap in user experience between premium content and Google. We’re structured and future generation isn’t. Users want to try lots of searches very quickly. They want to be the iterative agent, not the software iterating. They want the search engine to fix the search, not them. It’s that instant gratification thing.

The effect is not verbatim but its characteristics have set the standard for present and future generations. Search must be simple, unbounded, unrestricted (free), and consistently fast. It’s not just search, it’s workflow applications. Google is the baseline. So what’s the next revision. Now it’s the socialization of information. It’s all about sharing, interacting, and sharing notes.

C|Net.com’s visualization, connected network of connected stories.
Newsmap: 1 main design project shows visual cues based on box size, color, font size
24eyes: capitalizes on RSS , can configure as you want for news dashboard.
It’s the network effect.
10×10: research project has sparked derivative companies, it’s a map with photos instead of words, clever navigation such as scroll bar on side.
Flickr: among the Web’s top 100 trafficked sites, created groundswell. Yahoo bought it before it could become truly cool.

These hot new systems lack quality control, brand trust, and certification.

EBSCO’s pairing with Groxis to create entirely new entry point. EBSCOhost adopts Web 2.0. If he’d known about structured, premium data when he was a Stanford student, he wouldn’t be messing about with the Internet as much as he does. (That would actually be a shame, in my opinion.) He’s showing podcasts for educational purposes like learning French. Podcasts are an entry point. Also video podcasts.

There’s huge opportunities for publishers. Leverage the expertise of innovators to find new and better ways to delivery your content to more people.

He rushed through the last two slides, so I couldn’t capture all of it, but the slides should be available in a few weeks from NFAIS.

Talking with attendees after R.J.’s talk, I was astounded to discover that most of what he said was new to them. It seems to me that we’ve been discussing this at library conferences for the last few years.

Clare Hart to Head Dow Jones Enterprise Media Group

Marydee Ojala @ 10:59 am

Dow Jones announced today a new organizational structure that will divide the company into consumer media, enterprise media, and community media. Clare Hart, formerly CEO of Factiva and a good friend of corporate libraries, has been promoted to take over the helm of the enterprise media portion of the business. Here’s the lowdown, from the press release, of her new responsibilities:

Enterprise Media Group
The Enterprise Media Group will include Dow Jones Newswires, Dow Jones Licensing Services, Dow Jones Indexes, Dow Jones Financial Information Services, Dow Jones Reprints and Permissions; and enterprise-facing joint ventures (including Factiva and Stoxx). It will be led by Clare Hart, who was previously CEO of the Company’s Factiva joint venture with Reuters, and will join the Company March 1, 2006 as executive vice president of Dow Jones and president of Dow Jones Enterprise Media Group. Ms. Hart will also be chairperson of Factiva. The priorities of this group will be to grow Dow Jones’ enterprise-facing franchises by monetizing them in all profitable enterprise media channels (e.g., newswires, newsletters, conferences, data bases, indexes, and licensing); adding more value to content with technology-enabled enhancements and new products; better segmenting customers, offerings and pricing; and developing new growth vehicles in attractive adjacent markets.

Reporting to Ms. Hart will be the following executives:

Jeff Davis, president, Dow Jones Licensing Services
Paul Ingrassia, president, Dow Jones Newswires
Mike Petronella, president, Dow Jones Indexes and Ventures
Scott Schulman, president, Dow Jones Financial Information Services

Congratulations, Clare!

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