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.

Multiple Identities

Marydee Ojala @ 8:54 am

I was browsing through some older issues of ONLINE, ones from the mid-1990s, trying to fact check some dates that various companies acquired other companies (yes, this does have to do with an article in the upcoming September/October issue of the magazine), when I realized how my identity has changed. Back then, in the contact section of my column, The Dollar Sign, I listed my phone number, my DialMail number (16663), my MCIMail number (3397112), my DataMail id (ojala), my CompuServe number (71571,43), and my Well name (mojala). To the best of my knowledge, I don’t have any of those anymore. Some of the companies behind them no longer exist. What those contact points had in common was the one-way communication model. There wasn’t much flexibility, or interactivity. They were subscription-based silos. I remember being delighted when I could have one email address that everybody could use, without paying and with much greater flexibility.

In today’s socially networked world, we’ve taken a bit of a step backwards. Now we’ve got an identity at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and numerous other social media sites. Those identities may be expressed slightly, or completely, differently. Twitter handles can be particularly fanciful. Would I intuitively know that Jane Doe on Facebook is Doefull on Twitter (I made that up, so don’t go looking for Jane Doe or Doefull).

Certainly there is more interactivity, more bi-directionality, inherent in the notion of posting to Twitter or updating your status on Facebook. But when you get to the direct messaging portions of social network sites, you’re right back to the silos of 15 years ago. Five years ago I could just check email to see whether I had received important messages. Now I have to check in multiple places for messages.

And then there’s my kids, who pretty much disdain all that social media that we older folk find so fascinating. They’re more likely to text.

Changing Images

Marydee Ojala @ 9:12 am

Wouldn’t you know it. I’ve been working on slides for my presentations at the Southern African Online Meeting the beginning of August. I’m doing one half day workshop on evaluation and another half day on non-textual searching. So I’ve been looking at lots of image databases and search engines. Lots of color (or, colour), lots of interesting sites. Just as I was wrapping this up, Google up and changed how it’s doing images. At least I got a week’s notice this time! Sometimes things change just as I’m doing a presentation, which is seriously annoying, but comes with the search engine territory.

Google Images now has ads at the top of the results page and is putting some search facets over on the lefthand side of the screen. I’ve seen some commentary about Google Images now looking more like Bing Image search, but although the idea of lefthand navigation is the same, the details are different. And Bing has no ads.

Hope to see friends from Southern African Online Users Group in Pretoria the first week of August!

Spicing Up Our Image

Marydee Ojala @ 9:47 am

I went to library school a long time ago, but even then many professionals worried about the image of librarians and the library. And we still do. That’s why, I guess, we get so excited about the portrayal of librarians and the presence of libraries in popular culture. With social media, news travels quickly. When the University of Washington’s iSchool put a video of librarians adapting Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” to library research (CA-Ca-Catalog. Don’t forget the databases”) , librarians blogged, tweeted, and facebooked about it. Most loved it.

Now we’ve gone gaga over Old Spice. When Isiah Mustafa, the actor who play the Old Spice man in the YouTube commercials announced he would post replies to blog posts and tweets, New Jersey librarian Andy Woodworth suggested he mention libraries. In only a couple of hours, the library video went live and quickly became a viral hit, not, presumably, just among librarians, since it’s had 61 million views as of this morning.

Some librarians were upset, however, that he connoted libraries with books. It’s that image thing, again. We want our image to be more than about books. Yeah, don’t forget the databases. We want to be seen as forward thinking, technologically savvy, ahead of the curve, and totally up to date.

Brigham Young University’s Harold B. Lee Library may have the last laugh on this one. It’s got a short video that parodies the Old Spice commercial by presenting the “New Spice, Study like a Scholar, Scholar” video. Starring HumorU comedian and BYU student Stephen Jones, who bears a startling resemblance to Old Spice’s Mustafa, it extols the value of the library. (Should I really think of library databases as celestial sandwiches? Hmmm.)

Image aside, what these really tell me is the power of video for libraries. We’ve got to get beyond boring instructional videos, however, and put some pizazz into it. But maybe not too much. I’m still wondering whether the ProQuest video on its new platform is telling me anything or whether it’s just a slick commercial. Compare that with the video ProQuest did of its booth presentation at ALA and tell me which you prefer, or whether you don’t like either one. I haven’t made up my mind, but I do know I like BYU’s New Spice and sincerely hope they make some more with him explaining more about library research.

I Hart Infogroup

Marydee Ojala @ 8:11 am

It’s now official, CCMP finalized its acquisition of Infogroup and, no surprise, named Clare Hart as its president and CEO. This story was originally broken by Ross Boettcher in the Omaha World Leader on April 11, 2010, but Hart couldn’t really take the post until the acquisition was complete. She comes to Infogroup after 27 years with Dow Jones, most recently as president of its Enterprise Group. For information professionals, however, Clare Hart is best known for her leadership of Factiva. For years a familiar face at SLA annual conferences, she was not in New Orleans this year. Maybe next year in Philly, we’ll have Infogroup as an exhibitor.

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