Friday, 27 October 2006

Library 2.0 and Web 2.0

Went to a presentation yesterday by our Library solutions provider. Some of it was NDA so I won't name names. What was interesting was the demonstration of the new system which was all web 2.0 ified ready for the participation age or all about collaboration.

Now personally I'm not too sure how much of the particiapation age or web 2.0 is hype, but certainly the youth of today seem to expect some sort of shared working, and to be fair most vle's (eg sakai, webct, bodington) seem to have the idea of collaborative small project work in the box.

Anyway, librarians are apparently scared that the library catalog doesn't give the amazon/google experience, so this nameless software now adds support for participation age features:

Tagging - basically allow students to build a folksonomy of references and use that for individual study rather thanrely on the library catalogue. This sort of makes sense, especially if they can add online resources into their collection, as so much material is online. After all, all it is is allowing students engaged in independent study to share references, although there are questions about the worth of individual tags and classifications within a relatively small university community. All it would take is an assertive and off the wall individual in a tutorial group to skew the folksonomy, or it would until people learned to ignore him or her

Facets - use faceted classification - basically keywords on drugs rather than single subject classification which makes thematic searching for information easier

and Mashups - the idea here to feed your catalogue search into other sources, eg Google Scholar to come up with related online material to add 'value' to the search, really grasping towards using a federated search to create a virtual reference shelf.

Interesting, yes. Revolutionary, no. Even when I was a PhD candidate over 25 years ago we used things like the print edition of current contents and ISI to search for information and get it from elsewhere on interlibrary loans, and used our own classifications for these 8x4 filecards you kept references and notes on to make the knowledge structure that made sense of the problem for you.

Or at least I did - I've always been interested in the relation between things rather than orthodox linear views of knowledge.

What a lot of this stuff is is showing that it can be as flexble as people are and allows you to work the same way as you would intuitively rather than, like a lot of old fashioned systems, forcing a particular rigid model of knowledge on students, and instead encouraging learing and discovery.

Or at least it will among the bright motivated self starters. I'm sure how it will play with the dumb plodders ....