OPLIN 4Cast #253: 2012 strategic technologies

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Last week, even though we’re still more than two months away from the New Year, the Gartner Group released their list of the Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2012. These are technologies that they feel will have a high potential to disrupt business, might require a large investment of cash, or carry high risk if the business is late to adopt them. Since this is the OPLIN 4cast, not the “10cast,” we’re focusing today on the four strategic technologies which we think might have the most impact on libraries: Mobile-Centric Applications; Social User Experience; Big Data; and the Internet of Things.

  • Library mobile applications: what counts as success? [pdf] (OCLC Research/Bruce Washburn)  “Some library mobile apps concentrate on the library catalog. Search and discovery of the catalog can sometimes be implemented relatively quickly, in particular if the system that supports the website for the catalog offers an out-of-the-box mobile solution. In some recent surveys of mobile users of library services, the library catalog was not the most used or desired service. Other services such as looking up library hours, reserving a study room or computer, checking out materials, paying fines, and reading electronic resources were of as much interest as searching the library catalog; in most cases much more important.”
  • What is “social reading” and why should libraries care? (Tame the Web/Allison Mennella)  “To increase both the library’s appeal and stress its value to users, libraries should consider implementing customizable and participatory services for social reading. There are a number of ways to accomplish the creation of this social space from designing blogs, podcasts, a wiki or even using an existing social media platform like GoodReads. The key is to build and maintain a site that uses moderated trust to give patrons a voice in this social space. If possible, libraries should give patrons the opportunity to design and manage their own ‘space’ within the library’s broader social platform.”
  • Retooling libraries for the data challenge (Ariadne/Dorothea Salo)  “Deposit processes in many institutional repositories assume a limited number of files to deposit, such that they can be described and uploaded one at a time by a human being. Applying this manual process to datasets is like trying to empty the ocean with an eyedropper. The SWORD protocol [Simple Web-service Offering Repository Deposit] holds potential to ameliorate this problem, but the protocol has not yet made its way into researcher or even library tools or processes.”
  • Buh bye library card, hello smartphone? (Ryan Livergood)  “Libraries should definitely be paying attention to apps like Google Wallet that utilize NFC [Near Field Communication] technology. Before long, many of our patrons may begin to abandon their wallets for their NFC enabled smartphones and expect to be able to use them at libraries like they can at the Walgreens or Subway across the street. Hopefully, their libraries will be ‘yes’ libraries that allow their users to store their library card in their smartphone wallet.”

Last year fact:
For those keeping score, many of Gartner’s 2012 strategic technologies were also in their 2011 list; note that, “Video … as a standard media type used in non-media companies…” has apparently graduated from prediction to fact.

OPLIN 4Cast #217: News from the (digital) archives

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

This posting collects several recent news items that all deal with some aspect of archiving digital material, or digitizing archival material. The topics range from clever activities on the part of enterprising individuals to enterprises making clever use of individual activities. And not all the news is good.

(As a bonus, you might enjoy this interesting article about digized archives being used to corroborate an archeological find.)

  • Digital archivist saves 172 BBC websites in a torrent (Wired.co.uk/Mark Brown)  “In a wave of brutal cuts at the broadcasting corporation, the BBC recently announced plans to shut down 172 websites in an attempt to scrimp on server fees. ‘The material taken offline is stored for future reference,’ said BBC Online managing editor Ian Hunter, ‘or deleted altogether.'”
  • National Library of Finland turns to crowdsourcing, games to help digitize its archives (ReadWriteWeb/Audrey Watters)  “…the game helps verify the OCR and make sure that digitized materials are accurate and searchable. ‘We wanted to set up “Angry Birds for the Thinking Person”—something which entertains but is also useful to us as a nation,’ says Ekholm, who anticipates teachers and children will enjoy volunteering to help these digitization efforts. Additional phases of the project will be aimed at ‘more serious historical buffs.'”
  • Trouble for the tweet keepers?: Library of Congress’s ambitious plan to create a Twitter archive still hasn’t taken flight (Boston Globe/Alex Beam)  “I suspect this has devolved into an unholy technical and legal clusterfunk, with lawyers piling upon lawyers a la Google Book Settlement to produce a highly compromised and entirely unrewarding result.”
  • Internet Archive releases new version of The Wayback Machine (Information Today/Gary Price)  “The first thing you’ll notice is that Wayback now has its own URL. You can access the beta at http://www.waybackmachine.org. When you arrive at the site you’ll notice that except for a bit of text below the search box it’s a basic search box and two buttons. That’s it. This is in stark contrast to a massive amount of text you can see surrounds the interface (what’s now being referred to as the ‘classic interface’) at http://www.archive.org or http://web.archive.org. The two buttons are labeled ‘Latest’ and ‘Show All.'”

Web archive fact:
The Wayback Machine stores more than 150 billion archived web pages dating back to 1996.

OPLIN 4Cast #216: European strategy

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Europeana logoIt’s quite likely that many readers of this blog know that OCLC recently released a sequel to the respected Perceptions of Libraries report first issued in 2005. As with the first Perceptions report, the 2010 edition explores the concept of libraries as it relates to information consumers and their online habits, preferences, and perceptions. Readers may not have noticed, however, that at about the same time, Europeana released their strategic plan through 2015, another interesting document. Europeana is a web portal launched in 2008 that provides links to cultural artifacts from museums, archives, and libraries across Europe, with the eventual aim of providing access to all of Europe’s digitized cultural heritage by 2025. Their shorter term strategic plan highlights some interesting problems in the immediate future which should also affect U.S. libraries, so in today’s 4Cast we share some quotes from the four main goals of the plan: aggregate, facilitate, distribute, and engage.

  • Aggregate (begins on page 12)  “In order that the diversity of Europe is reflected, we will seek out content from under-represented cultures and countries and aim to stimulate digitisation programmes to make sure that Europeana offers an appropriate level of visibility. Users should be able to access the full spectrum of culture, from court composers to street music, and from ancient worlds to modern times.”
  • Facilitate (begins on page 14)  “Orphan works are of particular concern to Europeana, because the portal focuses attention on the existence of the 20th century black hole. The most recorded century is sparsely documented on Europeana, and the most popular audiovisual content is the most scarce. Europeana will continue to press for solutions to the problems caused by orphan works, which cannot be digitised and made publicly accessible.”
  • Distribute (begins on page 16)  “We will continue to develop the portal in line with our users’ evolving needs and expectations, but in addition, we will develop initiatives to make the content as findable, understandable and reusable as possible. Enabling discovery and reuse of Europeana’s content is the essence of our business model. Recent technological changes mean that users no longer go to content; rather, applications deliver content direct to the user, and the chosen device is mobile. We must ensure that our content is available where our target users congregate, among the resources that they habitually use.”
  • Engage (begins on page 18)  “We will devote increasing resources to initiatives that bring out the value of the contribution that users can make. We will continue to work with Wikipedia to develop opportunities for collaboration. Wikipedia’s model of user involvement, multilingual content, range of cultural and scientific coverage and extensive interpretation offers strengths that are complementary to Europeana’s.”

Collection fact:
In 2010, the Europeana portal provided access to 14 million items; by 2015, they project that 30 million items will be available.