Miscellaneous connections

I gave this presentation late last week to the ANZ Society of Indexers for their annual conference. It was meant to stimulate some thought about recent developments on the web and also within institutions. Maybe the following guide will help to interpret some of these slides.

SLIDES 2 & 3 (Connection)

I used these slides to draw a connection between myself and Hazel Bell, the other plenary speaker (by video from the UK). She indexed the first publication of T.E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1992 text) when it was first published by Jeremy Wilson in 1997. That text is over 80,000 words longer than the 1926 text that most people would be more familiar with and the index was invaluable to me when I curated a museum exhibition on Lawrence in 2006-08.

SLIDE 4 (Collaborators)

I am really grateful to those named on that slide as they raised my awareness and gave me new perspectives on a number of issues. We mostly used Google Docs to share comments and observations.

SLIDES 6-8 (“Indexing” the web)

Here you can see the influence of David Weinberger (Everything is Miscellaneous) and Cory Doctorow regarding the application of non-web protocols, classifications and restrictions to the web. We cannot attempt to index or classify the web in the same way we would for a book or a collection of physical objects. It isn’t going to work and it isn’t necessary.

SLIDES 9-11 (Connect, share & collaborate!)

Yes, connect and integrate our existing taxonomies and indexes with those available on the web. I’m not suggesting that we throw the baby out with the bath water. Folksonomies work best with taxonomies. We need to realise that what works best in web systems like iTunes, Flickr, LibraryThing and Delicious is their ease of use. You are not forced to spend days laboriously adding metadata to fields that you don’t even understand. LibraryThing and iTunes draw or harvest open metadata for us from other sources. We can then add our own tags, and in some cases even comments, links and reviews.

SLIDES 12-15 (The power of sharing)

Social media allows us to share everything quickly and easily. Gary Hayes’ Social Media Count brilliantly displays the amazing dynamics of social media as you watch. In 2008 I was able to share images from a world championships being run in Hawaii to the world while the race was still being conducted. Our collection management systems in cultural institutions are not that adept. So maybe we use them in conjunction with image sharing platforms like Flickr or Picasa, or maybe we just chuck out these cottage industry systems and start again, realising the importance and scope of digital media, and going with systems that are intuitive, easy to use and much less cumbersome? Even software is now being shared and users are collaborating with each other to improve it. People are also still busy having their say in blogs and using clever RSS readers to help them to read what they choose to read and not what newspaper editors think they should read or what TV news rooms want to sell them.

SLIDE 16 (Authenticity)

The web is often criticised for being unreliable. But just because something is published in a magazine, a newspaper or in a book does not make it always reliable or authentic. Even peer review is not completely reliable. So we’ve come up with new ways to measure how much to trust each other and judge authenticity online. eBay and craigslist are great examples of this and they’ve been so popular that they’ve effectively robbed newspapers of much of their classifieds revenue.

SLIDES 17-25 (Institutions & sharing)

Cultural institutions are realising that they need to get out there and connect with their users on the web. They cannot wait for people to come to them. The clever institutions are making their web data easily findable and easily used. Mashups are growing. These are just a few examples.

SLIDES 26-27 (UTS Library – now)

Open everything seems to be the way of the future, so with UTSeScholarship we are heading in that direction. We are also using social media to connect with our clients where they might begin their searches and to engage with them.

SLIDES 28-35 (UTS Library of the Future)

These slides present a quick tour of some of the plans we have for our future Library. We are going to put approximately 66% of our physical collection in an underground Automated Storage & Retrieval System adjacent to our new Library building and that will allow us to do much more with our physical spaces in the Library itself. (The rough dates are only indicative.) Some of the elements we are looking at will be stimulated by developments well outside traditional library and academic environments.

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