Sunday, August 24, 2014

Horizon Report 2014 - The Academic Research Library Edition

It’s that time of year when the NMC Horizon Project, a 12-year effort established in 2002, unleashes what it identifies and describes as the emerging technologies likeliest to have the largest impact over the coming five years in every sector of education around the globe. 

As I’ve written in previous postings about Horizon Report, it’s always like Christmas Eve anticipation. This year is even more exciting and interesting as this version of the NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Library Edition examines six key emerging technology trends for their impact on academic and research libraries worldwide. 

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less

Electronic Publishing
If the first revolution in electronic publishing was making publishing platforms accessible to anyone, the next phase is now to link these platforms together in producing new combinations and new types of content. New concepts such as responsive design and open access will allow that content to be archived as well as ported to any device, making it easier for libraries to publish resources that assist and reach people outside of the physical buildings.
  • Academic and research libraries are currently focused on growing their activity around the creation of original publications through e-journals or e-books, research data, and learning content that supports their institutions
  • As a growing amount of educational content becomes readily available via the Internet, libraries have a major incentive to more seamlessly connect people with their resources and scholarly information
  • Well-established initiatives include the publishing of a range of scholarly content, such as conference proceedings, monographs, and theses and dissertations libraries have adapted to publishing content, rather than simply purchasing content to share with their constituents. 
  • For example, University Library System at the University of Pittsburgh, for example, now publishes more than 35 scholarly online journals, developed through an online workflow that enables content to be consumed by students, faculty, and researchers across a variety of devices
Mobile Apps
For several years now, a revolution has been taking place in software development that parallels similar shifts in the music, publishing, and retail industries. Mass market is giving way to niche market, and with it, the era of highly priced large suites of integrated software has shifted to a new view of what software should be. 
  • Mobile apps embody the convergence of several technologies that lend themselves to use in academic and research libraries, including annotation tools, applications for creation and composition, and social networks.
  • Mobile apps continue to gain traction in academic and research libraries, because they are particularly useful for learning as they enable people to experience new concepts wherever they are, often across multiple devices.
  • As academic and research libraries begin to understand the potential of external apps, they are going beyond providing searching and reading tools by developing their own apps to create greater awareness of how libraries can assist students and faculty.
Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years

Bibliometrics and Citation Technologies
Viewed as a set of mathematical and statistical methods to quantitatively analyze citations and content of academic literature, the technology has advanced rapidly in the age of computers as new algorithms are being developed to better gauge an author or journal’s impact in the field, and help researchers efficiently filter through research databases or select the most appropriate journal for publication.
  • Bibliometrics encompasses citation count, journal impact factor (JIF), and h-index, among other metrics that can be used to support grant applications, attainment of new and tenured positions, and requests for raises or promotions. 
  • Bibliometrics is crucial to quantitatively demonstrating the quality of an institution’s research, and these measures
  • Advances in bibliometrics are helping academic and research libraries maintain a competitive edge by maximizing the influence of their scientific outputs, and thus reinforcing their effort to gain funding.
Open Content
Open content uses open licensing schemes to encourage not only the sharing of information, but the sharing of pedagogies and experiences as well. Part of the appeal of open content is that it is a response to both the rising costs of traditionally published resources and the lack of educational resources in some regions. 
  • Increased use of OER in higher education has made academic libraries the coordinators of campus units in the development of open content
  • Institutions that are implementing large-scale open content initiatives are relying on their libraries to lead the charge
  • OSU Libraries of Oregon State University embarked on a pilot program that manages OSU Press and OSU Extended Campus in the creation, review, and support of open textbooks
  • The movement toward open content reflects a growing shift in the way scholars in many parts of the world are conceptualizing education to a view that is more about the process of learning than the information conveyed. 

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years

The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of connected objects that link the physical world with the world of information through the web. Embedded chips, sensors, or tiny processors attached to an object allow helpful information about the object, such as cost, age, temperature, color, pressure, or humidity to be transmitted over the Internet. 
  • This simple connection allows remote management, status monitoring, tracking, and alerts if the objects they are attached to are in danger of being damaged or spoiled. Many web tools allow objects to be annotated with descriptions, photographs, connections to other objects, and other contextual information; the Internet of Things makes access to these data as easy as it is to use the web.
  • Connect people’s interactions with library catalogs online with their experiences in the physical facilities. Many catalogs currently offer a “favorite” so users can easily add items to their virtual list of preferences and readings. Through an IoT-enabled app, maps and directions to each of those resources can be provided to patrons upon entering the library.
Semantic Web and Linked Data
Tim Berners-Lee originally envisioned the semantic web as a natural evolution of the web. His idea is that eventually the semantic web might be able to help people solve very difficult problems by presenting connections between seemingly unrelated concepts, individuals, events, or things — connections that it would take many people many years to perceive, but that could become obvious through the kinds of associations made possible when the semantics of the data are exposed.
  • Academic and research libraries are in a unique position to benefit from the increased exposure and contextualization that semantic tools can bring to their collections. 
  • Library catalogs will be a more valuable information resource if their metadata is an interoperable part of the semantic web and not siloed in separate inaccessible databases. 
  • It is no longer enough for libraries to have their own websites with collection data; there is growing emphasis to integrate these collection catalogs into sites and services more frequently accessed by users. Students and researchers need to be able to connect from Google, for example, back to their specific library.
  • As an increasing number of librarians recognize the importance of sharing information about collections across institutions, they are forming communities of practice, such as Linked Open Data in Libraries, Archives, and Museums (LODLAM), a global network of professionals interested in working with linked open data in their institutions.

So there you go - the Horizon Report has been accurate on a number of fronts since it was first released.

Friday, August 01, 2014

How to Be a Quitter and Still Be a Success

I recently came across Jon Acuff's Quitter. Jon Acuff is a New York Times Bestselling author of four books including his most recent, Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters.  For 16 years he’s helped some of the biggest brands in the world tell their story, including The Home Depot, Bose, Staples, and have spoken at conferences, colleges, companies and even churches.  Probably better known as the humorist who wrote Stuff Christians Like, Acuff has a witty and sharp intellect for being able to synthesize complex ideas into a highly engaging and fun read.  In my recent foray into Quitter, I realized that I stumbled across another great read - one that situates the current wave of literature around self-improvement and self-publishing guides.

Fame is a Burden - Don't be a victim of your own success - Many who go from anonymity to overnight success experience pressure to constantly keep up.  The consequences are often an afterthought when one begins the long road from creating something from scratch and watch it grow to prominence.  But the road to fame has its drawbacks, including the loss of privacy, freedom, and ultimately the chance to be able to innovate and freely fail.  Anonymity is a luxury.  Many stars yearn for the opportunity to test new ideas and experiment without consequences.  But here is the paradox: the greater the fame, the less space there is for risk whereas obscurity's greatest trade-off is the ability to try anything and do anything without much repercussions.  Fame does have its drawbacks doesn't it?

Do Not Burn Out - It's easy after a while to forget about the people around you.  The countless hours of hard work that leads to success oftentimes comes at a price - and that is usually those closest around us.  There will inevitably be a trade-off; sadly, success comes at a zero-sum game.  To achieve success in almost anything, one must dedicate time and energy for a craft - yet, this comes at a price.  Family and friends should be foremost, according to Acuff, as they are a support network in life's ecology.  We need to nurture these relationships and not forget about the bigger picture in life.  It's not all about the money.

Give for Free - Just as important to create is the necessity to give back.  Acuff encourages us that we need to share what we create with the world and give back.  Like a karmic cycle, this giving will reward ourselves further into the future.  Many have written about this concept of giving back, including self-help gurus from Robert Kawasaki to billionaires such as Richard Branson.  There's a reason it's a common theme: it works!  So will you do it?