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Librarians Mob Monterey Airport

The Monterey Airport was the place to be at 6:00 a.m. on Thursday morning following the conclusion of Internet Librarian 2005! As the long lines snaked toward the check-in counters and then security, waiting librarians mused about how much more quickly things might move if people who really know how to organize things were in charge, i.e., librarians! But at least the skies were clear, not foggy as earlier in the week, and the flights departed on time, carrying newly challenged and inspired Internet librarians back to libraries around the country.

What a week! We’ll be posting some wrap-up comments over the next several days.

Nancy Garman
ITI, ngarman@infotoday.com
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Libraries Can Fight Back

Visionary and funny man, Stephen Abram first set the scenario with all the things that Google’s announced lately and its MANY initiatives – scary stuff! The company has bought 6 social networking companies. We let them read our e-mail and tell us what we want. Soon, Google will control all the ads, all the wallets, all the broadband,etc… So, in the closing keynote for the event, he provided his Top 10 Strategies for competing with Google. Sage advice in my book.

1. Know your market. He mentioned the Normative Data Project that aids market understanding. Know what’s circulating. Understand geographic use.
2. Know your customers better than Google – or you’ll lose. He mentioned the “Personas” project that helps in understanding needs, preferences, and desires of users. Check out the article in the latest Computers in Libraries. Educate yourself on the characteristics of “millennials” (“They can think rings around us.”) and also other populations, like older folks. Google does “satisficing” where librarians meet Real Needs.
3. Be where your customers are. How much of your usage is in person? What about IM?
4. Searching for the target… Federated search should not look like Google. Build compelling content – in CONTEXT!!!
5. Support your culture. Get your texthead to “nexthead.” Move beyond vinyl recordings. Adapt to video and streaming media. Podcasting. Start learning now!
6. Position libraries where we excel. Google does who, what, where, when, who, how questions really well. Google sucks at how and why questions. Libraries’ core competency is not delivery of information. Libraries improve the quality of the question. The question is what’s important. Libraries are an “exploration space” not a collection space.
7. Be wireless. The next massive wave of innovation will start in 2006/7.
8. Get visual. Explore visualization technologies, like Grokker. (Most librarians are text-based learners and it takes us longer.)
9. Integrate. Build community context first – learning, research, neighborhood, workplace, culture/entertainment.
10. For Pete’s sake, take a risk.

And, his last word – focus.
We, as librarians, have to learn that when we study something to death, Death was not our original goal. Pick something, do it well, and move on.

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief
Information Today, Inc.
www.infotoday.com
phane@infotoday.com



Search Engines for the Future

A panel of engineers from A9.com, Google, and Yahoo! gave attendees a look at recent developments and some future plans for the search engines. DeWitt Clinton of A9.com, which is a subsidiary of Amazon, focused on the OpenSearch feature, introduced in March 2005. He says it basically offers a common format (currently RSS but in the future Atom and others) for information sources and engines to become searchable via A9.com. The company likes the vertical search concept, and, as an aggregator site, now offers searching of more than 200 content sites—sources like Wikipedia, PubMed, and even the Seattle Public Library. Clinton said that Microsoft is building OpenSearch 1.1 directly into its next version of Internet Explorer.

Peter Norvig of Google talked about some of the recently implemented direct answers within Google, such as stock quotes and weather, and answers to fact-based questions (like “population of Japan”). Currently being developed in the Google Labs is a statistical machine translation product. “It’s not perfect yet, but it’s certainly very usable,” he said. He also talked about the satellite maps in Google Local and how people use common APIs to add data to the maps, such as the 911 call locations in Seattle.

David Mandelbrot of Yahoo! explained that FUSE reflects the company’s vision for search—Find, Use, Share, and Expand. He said one recent example of finding and using content is Yahoo!’s partnership with Creative Commons. The recently introduced My Web 2.0 is an example of social search. It lets users save pages, tag and annotate, and share with others. Finally, the company is Expanding with its involvement in the new Open Content Alliance—the digitization project that I blogged about earlier.


Mandelbrot talking, with Clinton on the left and Norvig on the right

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief
Information Today, Inc.
www.infotoday.com
phane@infotoday.com