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Posts Tagged ‘web 2.0’

I came across this very useful and interesting guide developed by ‘University of York Information’ on how to make effective use of Twitter in academics. Twitter undoubtedly has lot of potential in sharing information and also helps in building academic collaborations.

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APIs or OpenAPIs are tiny software utilities or applictions that help in data exchange between websites, applications and organizations, while the data source remains at one place.  These can be used by the developers of websites to combine and display data from more than one sources. A good example of it is World Bank API, where in one can extract data from 114 indicators from key data sources and 12,000 development photos. Google is making use of this kind of APIs to display data along with the graphs for specific queries. Another most widely used API is Google Maps API.

There is a ample scope for libraries to make use of some of the available open APIs to enrich their websites with  new content and give a different kind of web experience for the library users. Roy Tennant, a library expert has listed out some of the library related APIs on his blog posting, which library developers may find useful. Some of the listed APIs include Amazon, Library Thing, Open Library, OCLC, Worldcat, XISBN etc.  Implementation APIs requires a little programming, which I am sure library developers  will be able to undertake to enhance the quality of their library website, portals, OPACs etc.

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In today’s wired world, the days of installing free or trial or open source software on your desktop/laptop to convert a file, edit and store pictures, create charts/diagrams etc are becoming scarce. It is because of the availability of new online tools on the Internet at no cost.  However, the low bandwidth may be a deterrent to make use of these tools.

Some of the tools, which I found very useful for my work, have been listed below:

I feel we need to take efforts in making researchers aware of such utilities and provide orientation on how to make use of these tools in their work.

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Social bookmarking is a method for Internet users to store, organize, search and manage bookmarks of web pages on the Internet with the help of metadata. In social bookmarking system users want to save links of web pages, they would like to remember and share privately or publicly. Most of the social bookmarks are stored publicly, however there are options to store and make them available only to certain people or groups or networks.  These are made available on social bookmarking site such as Delicious chronologically, by category or tags or via a search engine.

Until recently these were universal in nature and not specifically limited to particular subject field such as Delicious, Zigtag etc.  However, now there is a big revolution in social bookmarking targeting academia  encouraging academicians working in different fields to make use these tools. This is a certainly a leap forward for researchers to make use of Web 2.0 to undertake collaborations or network with the community working in their subject field of study.

I had a chance to come across some such tools in a Online Information 2008 conference and exhibition currently being held in London (2nd to 4th December, 2008). I think it is a herald of new services on the Internet to unleash the potential of researchers in a big way thus reducing the time taken for research. Some the interesting tools, I came across are biomedexperts.com for biomedical sciences, IET discover for engineers and scientists and knol for researchers in all fields. This is addition some already existing tools such as citeulike to share the articles bookmarking.

Biomedexperts uses Pubmed database to find out researchers output and their collaborations and also uses Mesh subject headings for tagging. It wonderfully sketches their collaborations in a map linking the main author with his/her collaborators. I very much impressed with this product on its use of controlled vocabulary. The IET discover allows researchers in science and engineering to collaborate with each other and also allows to set their own groups. Like Delicious it also allows users to add their own tags for the entries and also provides cloud of tags for easy navigation. Knol a product of Google tries to harness tacit knowledge of people working in different areas, who are interested in sharing it with others. It encourages collaboration between the author and others and allows the author to control the changes to his/her article. All these products are available for FREE to encourage researchers to make use of them.

I think there are lot more tools are expected to come on the web in the near future. For example Collexis the company behind biomedexperts is already in talks with other authoritative database holders to bring this service in other subject fields as well. Some of these tools in a way help information intermediaries like us to undertake studies to know the research output of a particular researcher/s.

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What would be the future of libraries? This question was addressed in the Internet Librarian International 2008 (ILI-2008) conference held at London between 16 and 17 October, 2008. With the growing number of web applications, changing format of documents and changing users information seeking behaviour, is there is a way for libraries to survive?

The answer to this question is NO, if libraries do not adopt themselves to the changing environment. The keynote addresses of the ILI-2008 conference addressed these issues. The key note address given by Mr Guy Cloutier highlighted how libraries and librarians can bring in change by better understanding the technology and clients. He advocated for thinking innovative and adding value to the information products to make it saleable. The other key note address by Shanachies group highlighted on how changes can be brought in to the libraries to attract more users by introducing new concepts such as gaming, music, coffee club etc. Also the penal discussion on ‘What is the future of Libraries? pinpointed on the use of Web 2.0 applications, adopting to changing environment and providing services by understanding clients information needs.

Some of the key presentations made in the conference were on Web 2.0, Search projects, Information literacy and digital preservation. The one I liked the most is use of ‘Google Analytics‘ for library websites. The Google analytics is a free tool of Google search engine, which can be used to know the usage statistics of a website or webpage. It is possible to generate various kinds of reports, which is crucial to evaluate the success of any web product.

In regard to tagging for posts on blogs and social networking sites, there was an interesting presentation by SLAINTE, which harped on use of controlled vocabulary rather than user defined keywords or tags. This, I highlighted in my previous post on Web 2.0 and this study supports the idea of developing a thesaurus or using an existing thesaurus for assigning the tags.

I strongly support that there is a future for libraries/librarians and we only need to adopt to change and do not expect somebody to bring in change for us.

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I believe Web 2.0 tools have gone one step ahead. In addition to helping the generation and sharing of content, some of them even help for sourcing and aggregation of content. This was showcased in the workshop I attended on Web 2.0 at IDS by Mr Chris and his colleague Mr Pier from Euforic.

With the growth of websites and use of Web 2.0 applications, it is becoming impossible to keep track of news, articles and other content in a subject area of research or study. Now, you can keep track of new information emanating in a particular subject field by making use of Sourcing and Aggregating Web 2.0 applications. These tools help you to collect RSS feeds, news etc from various websites of your choice and deliver it on various platforms such as e-mail, mobile, website and many more. Some of them even do filtering of information to avoid any duplication of information. Few of such services are:

Sourcing:

Aggregation:

These will be immensely useful in knowing the latest developments in particular field/s. Information intermediaries can make use of these tools effectively to deliver information in a field or group of fields to the selected audiences.

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Web 2.0 as what I understand gives place for everyone to publish and share information on the Internet, which was not the case with Web 1.0, where in only organizations and specific individuals or experts used to provide information. It harps on how individuals can put content (blogs), write content (Wikis), add keywords (tagging), move information across (RSS feeds) and bringing together information (mesh-up) on the web.

I had an opportunity to attend few sessions on Web 2.0 delivered  by Mr Chris Addison and Mr Pier A. Pirani from Euforic at IDS with specific reference to development information and research. From the sessions, I could understand that Web 2.0 tools are great to make use of, however they too also have problems in curtailing information overload. I was very much impressed with the five important things one should know before implementing Web 2.0 tools, which were explained by them. They are:

  • People – Understand the group
  • Access – Bring down barriers
  • Motivation – Find the use that matches the need
  • Content Management – The same management issues of Web 1.0 apply
  • Impact – Measuring change

The problems with the Web 2.0, I foresee are related to vocabulary, bandwidth, sustainability and usability. The non-use of controlled vocabulary (thesaurus) for tagging (assigning keywords) to posts, makes it impossible for users to assign stanadard tags (keywords) and look for information on a particular topic using tags. Each user is independent of assigning their own tags/keywords, thus creating information chaos. Secondly, bandwidth is an issue in accessing certain content such as videos available on Web 2.0 platforms, it is especially a serious issue for developing and third world countries.

The sustainability of many of these tools is a question. Like a bubble burst of websites sometime back, the same may be the case with these tools, thus create problem in moving content form one tool to another. In relation to usability, there is lot needs to done as many users still do not aware how to make use of these tools. Even if researchers are trained by trainers, there is a need for further training by researchers themselves by giving their own example of how they are making use of these tools.

From these sessions, I find there is a lot of scope for information intermediaries such as Library and information science professionals to play a greater role in filtering information, developing standard  thesaurus for social bookmarking and in providing training to researchers.

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