Saturday, February 21, 2009

"Corporate drones" - some thoughts on "standard applications" and innovation...

Why the photo? Well, this post is about the aftermath of thoughts percolating since IO2009, and the result of conversations with various people...

I've heard quite a bit of talk, (in different contexts), about "standard applications". Standard applications are a good thing generally, and definitely make life easier for people who have to deal with IT.

I hope that when people talk about "standard applications", they not going to wait for vendors to innovate and supply a "solution" - I can think of times when in-house development, or open-source solutions can be useful, at least in the short-term:
  • proving worth/value of a "solution" (e.g. where there's risk that it might fall flat, or conversely, be really popular)
  • no vendor supplied product is ready (often people will develop stuff to suit their own needs, and then be nice enough to share it)
  • there's a "niche" which provides little incentive for a vendor to develop/sell a solution.
  • a vendor supplied product exists, but needs tweaking or customisation... I'm thinking here particularly of Umlaut which is used in conjunction with SFX - which is nice enough to be a relatively "open" system (from what I can tell).
So instead of "corporate drones" who might only think in terms of outsourcing and vendor-supplied products, I'd like to see more "cooperate beings" who try on some level, to:
  • consider the availability of a commercial solution (will there ever be one?)
  • develop and use solutions from other providers
  • put their stuff out there (in-house development might be risky -perhaps this diffuses some of that risk??)
Hmmm... is this a rant, or do I have a point? I'd appreciate your comments!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Information Online 2009 (part 3 + end)

I've finished typing up my notes, (last night), and it's just as well... I've had enough!

I'm not sure if I took too many notes, but typing up each session seemed to take too long - often because each of these presentations leads you into exploring other areas... either by "see also" references, or the "what was I doing" effect. Hopefully ALIA will sort out wifi next year, (... and everyone will have a silent notebook/netbook keyboard that has good travel/feedback, and somehow, that'll include me!)

I've tagged most of the stuff I've come across, (I can't say I've been that systematic, but anyway) - here's what I've added to delicious for io2009.

Monday, February 16, 2009

James Robertson's (not quite) presentation: A18 "What do innovative intranets look like?"

Not exactly what James presented, but the same subject matter, so you get the idea... [edit 17/2/2009: actually this first Slideshare is closer... ooops!]

Full paper is still "coming soon"

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Information Online 2009 (part 2)

This session was one that I really liked - stuff you can use, especially as libraries are often having to prove their worth, and quantitative techniques never tell the whole story. Below are my notes, but I see Nerida has submitted the whole paper, so it's worth reading that (rather than my hastily scribbled notes, badly transcribed)

Session C14 – Nerida Hart, Land and Water Australia

Evaluating information and knowledge services using narrative techniques – a case study”

This session is based on a methodology that was first used 2.5 years ago, but has been re-used numerous times since then... used in a special library, with 5 agencies, 40 staff, and 40,000 clients.

Wanted to focus on the biggest, value-added aspect of the work that they did – qualitative and improvement focussed.

Methods used were:

  • surveys

  • narrative techniques (anecdotal not stories) [Snowden, 2000.]

Cynefin complexity framework

Anecdote circles
  • explore the unexpected, and are allowed to follow tangents

  • used to related personal experiences and link events in a meaningful way

What's involved?

  • Preparation (½ a day)

  • Discovery 6-12 people (no more!) (90-120 minutes)

  • Sensemaking (1 day) – cluster by theme

  • Intervention design (? time) work out the outcomes

Sessions are recorded and transcribed (anonymised). They are facilitated by an impartial facilitator, and typically you need around 20-30 minutes before you get past the “oh, the Library's so great” phase.

Need to prove improvement, productivity.

Timing for this needs to be perfect – tackle this when there's nothing to pre-occupy members of the anecdote circle.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Information Online 2009 (intro + part 1)

Yes, this conference has been and gone... I'm slack!

As this was my second time attending Information Online, there was less "gloss".

As with most events there are a few sessions which stood out for me [edit 17 Feb 2009: I've added the link to the full paper below]:

Session B4 – Jane Burke, Serials Solutions

“What’s beyond the OPAC: discovery layer services”

Builds on earlier comments made by John Law, also part of Proquest

Federated search

Difficulty identifying appropriates resources.

“Put systems together that speak to them in a very simple way”
  • User’s want to search first!
  • Connector tech [NISO MXG]
  • Don’t bury it, embed it
  • Don’t worry about result physical format
  • Full keyword searching
  • Facets
  • Relevance ranking
  • Simple user interface, graphical
  • Put facets on left not right (this is where Google puts it’s ads)
Open Source offerings:
  • VUfind – Villanova University
  • Summa – Netherlands/Swedish??
  • XC (extensible catalogue)