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.

March Madness

Marydee Ojala @ 7:18 am

March is supposed to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb. So far, the weather in my part of the world has been more lamb-like than liony.

In mergers & acquisitions news, the climate swings toward the lion side of the scale. Twitter is the new proud owner of Posterous, according to its blog.

There’s a rumor out from SXSW, that CNN will buy Mashable, something Mashable is denying. I’m not linking to any of the news stories about the rumor. If it turns into a true story, with nobody lion about it, then I’ll amend the post.

Gowalla was bought by Facebook back in December. Its website now says “Thank you for going out with Gowalla. It was a pleasure to journey with you around the world. Download your check-ins, photos and lists here soon.”

I’m sure there’s more to come. March is far from over.

NASDAQ Internet Index

Marydee Ojala @ 7:30 am

Interesting group of companies added to the NASDAQ Internet Index in its annual update. These become effective on March 19, 2012.

Angie’s List, Inc. (Nasdaq:ANGI), HomeAway, Inc.
(Nasdaq:AWAY), Carbonite, Inc. (Nasdaq:CARB), Cornerstone OnDemand, Inc. (Nasdaq:CSOD), Groupon, Inc. (Nasdaq:GRPN), Move, Inc. (Nasdaq:MOVE), Qihoo 360 Technology Co. Ltd. (NYSE:QIHU), Stamps.com
Inc. (Nasdaq:STMP), Velti plc (Nasdaq:VELT), 21Vianet Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:VNET), Boingo Wireless, Inc. (Nasdaq:WIFI), Yandex N.V. (Nasdaq:YNDX), and Zillow, Inc. (Nasdaq:Z).

For those attending the annual AIIP conference in Indianapolis the first week of May, Angie Hicks, co-founder of Angie’s List, will be one of the featured speakers.

And I’m pretty sure you’ll hear about Yandex at WebSearch University in September.

EU Investigates Thomson Reuters

Marydee Ojala @ 5:12 pm

During a speech on March 8th, at the European Competition and Consumer Day in Copenhagen, European Union Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia announced that the Commission had opened an anti-trust investigation into Thomson Reuters. A press release contains his full speech, but this is the part that mentions Thomson Reuters:

” … we have launched an antitrust investigation in the Thomson Reuters case, involving one of the major financial information providers. We want to make sure that undue restrictions on the provision of financial information do not hamper the healthy development of financial services.”

“We have concerns that Thomson Reuters has potentially abused a dominant market position by restricting the usage of its identification codes RICs (Reuters Instrument Codes), thereby limiting the ability of its customers to switch to competing data providers.”

This is of concern, not just in Europe, but for online researchers worldwide. Most notably, Factiva removed all RIC codes from its database in December 2011. The RIC codes were originally implemented in Factiva when it was a joint venture between Reuters and Dow Jones. Now that it’s owned solely by Dow Jones and Reuters became part of Thomson, Factiva had to ditch the RIC codes, which is a great shame, as it eliminates an important access point for searching for company information.

IBM’s Watson Goes to the Financial Sector

Marydee Ojala @ 9:31 am

After winning Jeopardy and getting a gig in the health care industry, IBM’s Watson has been “hired” by Citigroup to see how Watson’s deep content analysis and ability to learn could apply in the financial sector. According to the IBM press release, Citi wants to use Watson “to help advance customer interactions and improve and simplify the banking experience.” And, presumably, also boost Citi’s profits.

The idea is that Watson will use Citi data to analyze customer needs and identify both risk and reward factors for the bank. The relationship between Citi and IBM is public knowledge, although it’s probably not the only “employment” that Watson has in the financial world. Its searching ability would certainly benefit both commercial and investment banks, which are so heavily reliant upon huge amounts of unstructured data.

Every time I read about Watson’s technology and its application in industries as disparate as health care and finance, I wonder how it could be utilized within libraries. Could Watson supplant the discovery services? Could it really tell whether the person asking a question was an undergraduate, a tenured professor, a bench chemist, a corporate librarian, a financial analyst, or something else? Could Watson revolutionize how librarians do collection development? Could it be the next generation of text mining?

More to the point, could companies in the information industry afford Watson? I’m pretty sure that libraries can’t.

Solar Flares

Marydee Ojala @ 8:59 am

Need an excuse to explain why your devices aren’t working properly today? Why your internet connection is slow? Why you didn’t get that critical email? Why you’re behind in getting that report out?

Try solar flares!

But for tomorrow’s excuse, you’re on your own.

Online Trends

Marydee Ojala @ 9:19 am

Following the SLA breakfast, I went down to the exhibition, which looks very nice this year, to prepare for my first talk. My topic was online trends. I talked about how personalization is altering search results and how visualized searching will require different literacy skills. Social search is definitely a topic of interest, particularly real time search. Predictive search holds various challenges for information professionals because we have so many different reasons for searching. And searching for us isn’t shopping.

I really believe that information professionals will have to make their own future because we are not the target audience for the web search companies. We need to insert the library into online, keep information professionals visible and relevant, and demonstrate how new technologies benefit people and enhance research.

SLA at Online Information

Marydee Ojala @ 9:13 am

The SLA Europe breakfast this morning was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with old friends. No one from headquarters was there, but SLA president-elect Brent Mai was there to make a few welcoming remarks. SLA Europe president Sara Batts ran a most efficient AGM. It’s impressive to realize how much the chapter has accomplished this year! It will be interesting to see if any SLA members show up tomorrow at the AIIP breakfast, since the two organizations swapped days this year!

Online Information 2011

Marydee Ojala @ 12:43 pm

Today was set-up for exhibition stands for the Online Information 2011 conference. I’m going to try for some live (or reasonably close to live) blog posts from the show. Don Hawkins is also blogging the conference on behalf of Information Today at his Conference Circuit blog, which he’s named “Live from London” for the week.

Seeing the banner for his blog caused me to wax nostalgic, as I recalled those early, heady days of blogging in London. As a group, several editors began our live blogging experiment in 2003. You can still see the archived blog posts for 2003 – 2009 here.

We were big on photos at the time, so here’s one of the exhibition hall today when most of the stands were “under wraps.”

AEA

The American Economics Association stand still shrink-wrapped

Don’t I Know Your Name?

Marydee Ojala @ 11:40 am

I received an email from a British librarian asking for a copy of an article I once wrote with the title “Best of British: British Information Online.” I remembered writing it — and I remember I wrote it rather a long time ago — but I could remember neither the exact date of publication nor which journal published it.

As a good online researcher, I turned to traditional fee-based databases to nudge my memory. I figured that if the British librarian couldn’t find the citation, he’d probably already Googled it, so I didn’t bother. Turns out I wrote it for Database in 1988.

I learned 2 things from my little search. First, almost every information source I discussed no longer exists. The exception is Companies House, which remains the repository for financial regulatory filings for UK companies. Ah, the ever-changing world of online!

Second is that ProQuest has a bit of a problem with journal title changes. Database changed it name to EContent in 1999. It is indexed and abstracted by EBSCO, ProQuest, and WilsonWeb, among others. Most duly note the title change and my 1988 article is ascribed to Database, not EContent. But ProQuest’s ABI/INFORM Complete apparently did a global term replacement on the journal title, so my article is cited as appearing in EContent, even though it was published 11 years before the title change. The analogy that springs to mind is Jane Jones marrying John Doe. If she takes his name, she becomes Jane Doe on her wedding day, but ProQuest assumes she was born Jane Doe. One wonders what Jane Jones’ parents make of this.

Here’s another quirk: When I looked for Best of British in ProQuest Dialog’s File 15 (ABI/INFORM), the database gives the citation, correctly, as Database.

ProQuest get the names of Database and EContent confused — and it’s own ABI/INFORM has internal differences even though the databases have the same name.

Luckily I’m at the Online Information conference this week, so will have the chance to ask them about this in person.

Penguin Petulance

Marydee Ojala @ 8:35 am

Paid Content has an interesting post today about why Penguin might have decided to pull its ebook titles from libraries. Laura Hazard Owen speculates that Penguin is retaliating against Amazon’s Kindle deal with OverDrive, that it’s worried about people checking out ebooks from libraries not in their geographic area (she claims to have 4 valid library cards for 4 different public libraries in 4 different places), and that it’s concerned that library lending will cut into sales. The latter is absurd, as the model of the public library buying and lending out books is more than well established!

There will be a lot written about the Penguin decision, both from the publisher perspective and the library perspective. What struck me about Owen’s piece is her calm analysis. What surprised me is her possession of 4 library cards.

The Penguin dustup also gives me the opportunity to give this blog’s readers a heads up that ONLINE will have a new columnist starting with the January/February 2012 issue. It’s called EBook Buzz and will be written by Sue Polanka, an expert on ebooks and blogger at No Shelf Required. In fact, her blog post yesterday on the Penguin situation lists several URLs where other commentary on the situation can be found.

I’m very excited to have Sue as an ONLINE columnist!

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