In looking at the library of the future, we must be aware of what the web will develop without any regard to what academia and academic Librarians think is the right way to do things. Most new initiatives fail. I have seen 2-3 groups/companies who want to set up social communities for scientists and they have mainly not worked out. That’s not their fault – the recipe for success depends on a critical combination of need, utility, timing and community vision. Wikipedia was not the first community encyclopedia; Google was not the first search engine…
So, Libraries will do well to go with the web. That’s hard to guess in advance, but not so difficult to track and influence when it happens. Many academics (I don’t know about Librarians) denigrated Wikipedia (and many still do). They have to be wrong. Wrong because the momentum is huge. Wrong because they should be working out how to help it, rather than naysaying. And the same goes for much else. The main trouble is that when you are an early adopter you have the scratch things that don’t work out on the web. That’s painful, but normally a price worth paying
This post hightlights FriendFeed and Twitter. My colleagues all twitter – I am not sure how many use FriendFeed. I was introduced to FF last October – I can’t remember whom – I think it was Jean-Claude Bradley. I haven’t used it since until today. From WP:
FriendFeed is a feed aggregator that consolidates the updates from social media and social networking websites, social bookmarking websites, blogs and micro-blogging updates, as well as any other type of RSS/ Atom feed. Users can use this stream of information to create customized feeds to share (and comment) with friends. The goal of FriendFeed according to their website is to make content on the Web more relevant and useful for you by using your existing social network as a tool for discovering interesting information. Users can be an individual, business or organization. Bloggers writing about FriendFeed have said that this service addresses the shortcomings of social media services which exclusively facilitate tracking of their own members’ social media activities on that particular social media service, whereas FriendFeed provides the facility to track these activities (such as posting on blogs, Twitter and Flickr) across a broad range of different social networks. Some (but not all) bloggers are concerned about readers commenting on their posts inside FriendFeed instead of on their blogs, resulting in fewer page views for the blogger.
So after starting to blog the “libraries of the future” someone alterted me to a FF post where my ideas were ebing discussed. There were probably ca 12 posts/comments – somewhere between 2 and 6 lines – so longer that Twitter but only exposed to me because I was a Friend of the poster. I shan’t reproduce them because I assume they are confidential to a subgroup of Friends.
The message is clear – if I want to know what is going on, I need to work through FF. I shall need a day or two to adjust and find the best place to take as the “centre”. Maybe I shall end up reading blogs through FF rather than Feedreader – don’t yet know.
And I joined twitter – someone seems already to have taken “petermr” (unless I joined earlier and forgot) so I have a different name. I will blog abou this later.
So it’s clear that any library of the future should embrace these approaches and should be leading. Blogs, FF, twitter all have their place. They are increasingly the mainstream of scholarly communication (apart from mindless metrics).
BTW – I was asked to use tag #LOTF09 for these posts. Is the “#” required and if so does it differ between blogs and twitter?