Last night’s evening session was called “Google-brary: The Status Quo of Tomorrow’s MEGALIBRARY.” It was a Google love/hate fest. Some librarians in the audience seemed to feel Google is helping people with access to information, while other librarians were concerned about the monopolization of information. However, it was also pointed out that Google is not the only player in this area and that Amazon and the Open Content Alliance are also in the mix. But the biggest gaping hole was that the Internet Archive wasn’t discussed. Brewster Kahle and his organization are the real pioneers in this space and although the big companies are stepping in now and are getting the limelight, none of this would be possible without IA. (See my review from last November about the Wayback Machine.)
Adam Smith, the Google Product Manager on the panel, did a fine job I thought. It’s not easy being in front of many hundred librarians. He obviously takes issues around digitization seriously, though he also kept to the company line about wanting “to do what’s right”. I think they’d be better not repeating these types of statements all the time. It’s starting to feel a bit forced. But in any case, I think it’s great that he agreed to be on the panel. Too bad Amazon and the Open Content Alliance didn’t also have panelists. Too bad Brewster Kahle wasn’t a panelist!
Some news that was announced last night was that Microsoft has agreed to join the Open Content Alliance along with the Internet Archive, Yahoo! and other organizations. According to the information I learned last night, Microsoft is going to pay for the digitization of 150,000 books.
Some random good quotes from the panel:
* The most requested interlibrary loan book last year was the Da Vinci Code. Would it just be cheaper for libraries to buy a used copy from Amazon and send it to a patron than do ILL?
* In the future, Internet Librarian will simply called the Librarian Conference.
Karen Schneider, who writes Free Range Librarian and who also runs the venerable Librarian’s Internet Index (note new name) gave a talk about blogging ethics. Although the Search Lounge is about search, and I don’t want to make it a blog about blogs, I did want to mention some things she said on this topic.
New terms (to me this first one was new, but a quick search on Yahoo returns many matches, including this news.com article from February, 2005):
Astroturf: a blog that looks like a personal blog, but is really sponsored by a corporation. I often wonder, for instance, about blogs I see dedicated to 1970s TV shows. The term can also be applied to political groups who start fake grassroots blogs.
biblioblogosphere – the world of librarian blogs.
“There is nothing more pathetic than a librarian who gets the facts wrong.”
The context for this quote was her adamant insistence that we as librarians fact-check everything we publish.
Another good point she made was about transparency and how important it is to provide “About Me” sections. I totally agree. It doesn’t have to be an extensive bio, but at least provide a brief paragraph so that I can at least think I’m reading a real person’s writing and not astroturf or a splog.
Mary Ellen Bates, gave a talk called â€œ30 Search Tips in 40 Minutes.â€ I attended the same talk last year and I highly recommend her talks. As well as sharing cool new sites she focuses on usefulness. Some highlights:
*She mentioned Exalead as having some of the best advanced search syntax capabilities for web searching, including phonetic and approximate spelling. (See my review of Exalead from last November.
*http://www.housingmaps.com/ – maps Craigslist real estate listings to Google Maps so you can see on a map where the listings are located.
*She mentioned, by my count, 11 different Yahoo! products and services, such as Y!Q, podcasts.yahoo.com, Konfabulator, MyWeb, Yahoo! Search Subscriptions, Site Explorer, and more.
*Amazonâ€™s Statistically Improbably Phrases – a data mining feature for searching books that shows which phrases in a book are â€œstatistically improbableâ€. These phrases provide more unique index terms and then let users find other books with the same terms.
Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project, gave the keynote address this morning: â€œShifting Worlds: Internet Librarians at the Forefrontâ€. He discussed the latest findings from the project, just as he did at last yearâ€™s conference. Some highlights that I found interesting:
For the United Statesâ€¦
* Half of U.S. internet users are now using broadband regularly.
* 2/3 of users have access to broadband even if itâ€™s not their regular method of connecting.
* 20% of Americans have never been online.
* People who are using dial-up today are less likely to switch and upgrade to broadband than in previous years.
* Chat room usage is declining heavily due to other communication technologies like blogs, social networking sites, and instant messenger.
For American teenagers, age 12 â€“ 17â€¦
*They will engage online advertisements if they think theyâ€™re relevant (whereas adults are more likely to be turned off by ads).
*19% of teenagers have started their own blog.
*Multi-tasking! Itâ€™s all about multi-tasking, including email, the web, cell phones and instant messaging. All at once.
I’m in Monterey, California attending this year’s Internet Librarian conference with 1100 other attendees. Dispatches to follow…