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  • Open Stack 2.0

    Posted on November 10th, 2008 Lukas Koster No comments

    Last week my colleague Bert Zeeman published a poll “Open stack, get rid of it!” (in Dutch) with 3 options:

    1. Yes, of course, should have been done long ago
    2. Help, no, open stacks are the backbone of the scientific library
    3. Nonsense, like always the truth lies in the middle.

    I voted for option 3, which is a bit spineless at first sight, I admit, but in my defense I can say, that I ended my explanatory comment with a somewhat more outspoken choice. Briefly, what I said was this:

    I am a big lover of book stacks, old libraries and bookstores. A confession: in my first year as a student I visited the University Library only once. As soon as I found out that the only way to obtain a book was to find one by looking through the card catalog and waiting for someone behind the terrifying desk to hand it over, I left the building never to return again during my years as a student. From then on I borrowed my books from the public library. (Presently I have been working for some years already in the same building that I left behind in shock).
    But on the other hand, current developments are that our customers do their searching and finding off site more and more.
    So to be honest, I guess I believe option 1 is more realistic.

    This description of my state of mind is a good illustration of the current ambiguous library open stack situation.
    For library customers who like to come to the library, look around, hold books in their hands and browse through them, obviously open stacks are definitely not a thing of the past. They can be a source for unexpected discoveries and instant satisfaction. This applies to the majority of the customers of public libraries, I guess.

    For customers of scientific libraries, in my opinion in most cases the situation is quite different. Students most of the time know what they are looking for. So do researchers and teachers: no need for browsing, just locate the book, get it and check it out, order online, or download the full text article. Customers like this get along with open and closed stacks, on site and off site searching.

    In the near future federated search systems, union catalogs, repositories and virtual collections combined with web 2.0 features like book covers and author profiles, together with the ever growing pools of digitised books, will be the new digital open stacks. They will take over the function of browsing, discovering and sampling books, journals and other objects. Eventually the typical public library customer will also prefer these open stacks 2.0.

    Library buildings will more and more fulfill the role of meeting place, exposition hall, etc.
    Open stacks will undergo the fate of vinyl records, paper telephone directories and steam engines. Only for real lovers of the printed book there will be dedicated open stack rooms and book museums like the Library of Congress. But this is still a couple of years away.

  • Antisocial Networking

    Posted on November 2nd, 2008 Lukas Koster 2 comments

    In his post “Twitter me thisOwen Stephens writes about differences in use and audience of Social Networking Sites. (Apparently at Imperial College London they had a similar kind of Web2.0 Learning programme as we had at the Library of the University of Amsterdam.)
    Owen distinguishes audiences on several, intermixed levels (my interpretation): “young” (e.g. MySpace ) vs. “old(er)” (e.g. Facebook ); “business/networking” (e.g. LinkedIn ) vs. “family and friends” (also FaceBook); “professional” (e.g. Ning ).

    And Owen mentions the risk involved here:

    I do find that Facebook raises the issue of how I mix my professional and personal life – whereas on LinkedIn everyone is one there as a ‘professional contact’ (even those people who are also friends), in Facebook I have some professional contacts, and some personal contacts. Although it hasn’t happened yet, there is a clearly a risk that in the future there could be a conflict between how I want to present myself professionally, and how I do personally – I’m not sure I’d want my boss (not singling out my current boss) to be my ‘Friend’ on Facebook.

    I recognise these differences and risks as well. In The Netherlands the most popular social networking site is Hyves, which can be compared to MySpace (according to my interpretation of Owen’s classification), but without the music angle. I have an account there, with only 13 “friends”, but my kids have 100 or more.

    On LinkedIn however, I have 80 connections (a term used to stress that these contacts are to be regarded as serious business relations), of which 99% I have met face-to-face at least once, by the way. Owen says about LinkedIn:

    “I’ve got a LinkedIn account but I don’t tend to use it for ‘social networking’, and more really as a ‘contacts’ list – while some people clearly use LinkedIn to ‘work’ their business contacts, I can’t say that I’ve ever been terribly good at this.”

    I guess I am using LinkedIn the same way as Owen does. Last week I had a discussion with a colleague/friend (!) about the use of these business networking sites like LinkedIn. We concluded that a number of people obviously use LinkedIn to show off: “Look, I have more than 300 connections on my list; mine is bigger than yours“. I must confess that I have thoughts like that myself sometimes: “I hope that this colleague has noticed that I know that famous person“….

    Now these “serious” business networks are starting to offer more social features. LinkedIn has groups, forums and “LinkedIn Applications”: integrating web 2.0 stuff like Amazon reading list, Slideshare, WordPress. In fact, this very blog post will show up on my LinkedIn Profile.

    I guess there is a lot of competition, for instance with Plaxo. Besides “connections”, which can be marked “business”, “friends” or “family”, Plaxo offers the options of “hooking up feeds” from web 2.0 services that you use, like flickr, delicious, twitter, blogs, youtube, lastfm, etc. I find this a very useful feature, because it gives me an integrated overview of all my web2.0 streams, much like SecondBrain does, which has a slightly different “connection” implementation, more like Twitter, with “followers”.
    Plaxo lets you also synchronise connections with LinkedIn, but this is a “Premium service”, meaning it costs money.

    Now, to come back to Owen’s risk assessment: in my Plaxo profile I show my professional blog (this one, that you are reading right now) to “Everyone”, but my twitter, personal blog, flickr, delicious, picasa and lastfm streams only to “Friends” and “Family”, because I think I should not draw unnecessary attention to my twitter “trivia” (as Owen calls it), holiday snapshots and non-professional bookmarks. These streams are publicly available of course, but I do not want to actually push them in the faces of my “serious” connections.

    You might argue that this kind of behaviour is not “social“, but rather “antisocial“: certain groups of contacts are excluded from information that privileged groups do have access to. And this term could also be applied to the “showing off” behaviour that I mentioned above.

    The funny thing is, that the “killer application” that won me over to Plaxo and that I use the most, is not social at all: it’s something that I have been looking for since playing around with web 1.0 “Personal Information Managers”: the option of integrating and synchronising the Plaxo Calendar with my Outlook work calendar and my private Google calendar. For me this is a huge advantage to having to consult several calendars when planning an appointment.
    But I do not share my Plaxo Calendar at all. Would you call this antisocial behaviour too?