Thursday, January 18, 2007

Take a look

Web 2.0 in action. What is Brooklyn College Library doing differently? Take a look at its impressive entry into the social software wave. Some might argue that the library is doing nothing more than riding 'fad' in technology. But is it? Or is it merely extending its reach into the sphere of its young users, connecting them through an online social space, and encouraging participation and communication through Myspace? Should we see this as outreach into cyberspace? Is it Library 2.0? The clues appear to say so...

Monday, January 15, 2007

Move Over Google

With Web 2.0 comes social searching, a type of search engine that determines the relevance of search results by considering the interactions or contributions of users. Social searching takes many forms, ranging from simple shared bookmarks or tagging of content with descriptive labels to more sophisticated approaches that combine human intelligence with computer algorithms. One search engine that has impressed me to no ends is ChaCha. Why?

Using ChaCha's Search with a Guide feature, your query is sent to a real person who is skilled at finding information on the internet and knowledgable on the subject at hand so that you get the few exact results you want, not the millions of results you don't. The more ChaCha is used, the "smarter" and "faster" ChaCha becomes. Indexing all the questions that are asked and associating them with the search engines and resources used by Guides, and the links visited by the users, ChaCha knows where to look and what the best human-approved resources are for each question or topic. Indeed, this kind of searching and type of search engine poses an interesting challenge to our friends at Google. How reliable are the guides? Here's where ChaCha is creative:
The primary reason is that we pay them and their pay is directly related to their performance. At the end of every session, you can select between one and five stars to rate their performance. While we expect you to be honest when rating a Guide, ChaCha can also detect any needlessly malicious ratings.
Welcome to Search 2.0, which uses third-generation search technologies designed to combine the scalability of existing internet search engines with new and improved relevancy models. User preferences + collaboration + collective intelligence + a rich user experience = Search 2.0.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Mashups for '07

Doug Steiner's "Party Everday" in the Report on Business laments that teenagers use newfangled technology to gather in groups fast, so why don't businesses? Here is what he proposes:

I dream of a Lavalife-like site to help me find a doctor. Provisioning of actual physician visits would be done through optimal distance and availability computation: The site would give me a list of doctors in my neighbourhood and key information like their areas of expertise and hours preferences. And a picture and astrological sign for each one, of course.

Doug, you spoke too soon. Here is what one prototype looks like: Berkeley Area Doctors by Chad Dickerson. It's a mashup.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Creative Librarian?

Shelley Hourston's "Creativity and the resilient health librarian" offers a fascinating look into one aspect of librarianship which is underappreciated: creativity. Librarians do a lot, especially with limited resources in health libraries, including cataloguing (descriptive and subject analysis); reference interviews; collection development; database searching; justifying the existence of the library, just to name a few.

Librarians are professional creative thinkers, from finding better ways to display new books on the shelves to adjusting to budget cuts. Well, then, how do you nurture creativity? It can be done, according to Hourston, as her interviews with working information professionals revealed that most creativity stems from recreational activities as writing, painting, drawing, sculpture, crafts, and knitting. It's worth a read!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Key to a Librarian's Success in the 21st Century

Intriguingly, I discovered that an article, "The Key to a Librarian's Success" in Information Outlook eerily resembles the posting that I had made earlier about the definition of a great librarian. Is this coincidence? Or did I just happen to luck out in finding such a superior teacher? Regardless, this is worth a definite read. Here are the main traits of the 21st century librarian:
(12) Humility
(11) Salesmanship
(10) Communication
(9) Perceptiveness
(8) Self-confidence
(7) Flexibility
(6) Responsibility
(5) Persistence
(4) Creativity
(3) Trustworthiness
(2) Enthusiasm
(1) Passion