I'm winding down on the library of the future theme - I am impatient to tell you about Chem4Word, whether and how we can rescue Cheminformatics from its current position as a pseudoscience, how to do language processing and textmining properly, and so on. But I owe my hosts at "The JISC" and Bodley thanks and the wider blogosphere some wind-down.
It's been valuable to me and to some others I have spoken to. The event itself was great and brilliantly staged and Dicky, Helen and many others deserve great credit. (I will pass over the late night session with Dicky and Rachel, other than to say that after retiring at 0200 getting the 0651 back to London was a major effort of will.)
I loved the Twitter feed and SecondLife. The feed was instantaneous and had comments all round the world - search for #LOTF09 and PMR (http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23lotf09+PMR) and you get lots of tweets - most of these while I was speaking and answering questions. It's a new experience and I think it's great (perhaps it was a good thing I couldn't see the feeds during my talk - one was "Classic PMR") . Here's a few from the first pageL
The SL was an experiment and it worked, within limits. The display was on except during talks, which I think was a pity and which should - in retrospect - be tried. I could see Jennifer/broniba/Akua_Inkpen but I couldn't talk to her. Also any messages from SL were relayed through a human. But the streaming video in SL looked great from where I sat - the avatars were watching a live screen and we were watching live avatars. (I have an avatar but I haven't worked out how to dress it - I need a lesson).
I need to clear up a misunderstanding which arose from my blogging - the library blogosphere felt I was attacking them. I was deliberately not, but I was giving them very . So I will briefly reply to a comment on John Dupuis' blog
John Dupuis said...
I found it refreshing that although [PMR] started with the assumption that we're all useless and dead, he did seem willing to at least listen and learn. Hopefully, we can listen and learn from him as well and see where we can improve.
At the end of the day, there's a lot of mutual misunderstanding between scientists and librarians. It's hard to know which is more of an issue: them not understanding us or us not understanding them.
PMR: If you read my earliest posts on this you will see that I did NOT assume librarians were "useless and dead" and I have never said that. I blogged #LOTF09 on the assumption I would get input from the library community. I know it was being read but even after nine days I got effectively no feedback. In bioscience, chemistry, information science, semantic web, open access, replies come within hours. I went into the FriendFeed and Twittersphere and picked up things like (paraphrased) "we've written this report, why doesn't PMR read it", "why does PMR think that he can blog in our territory and expect a response", "it's PMR's responsibility to approach us properly", "he should apologize for criticizing us".
So, getting no feedback, I turned up the outrage knob a bit and said
"I don’t blame the organizers (and I’m grateful to Dicky for sending the Ithaka report). I’m left with the overwhelming impression that the community is now past caring about the future of the library. That’s essentially what Ithaka said 2-3 years ago - that ULibraries had to be visible and rebrand themselves. They’re not and they aren’t."
By community I meant the academic community as a whole, and I stand by what I said. I have tried to act as a messenger between scientists and librarians. I have, I believe, been factually accurate. When JohnD says:
"It's hard to know which is more of an issue: them not understanding us (ULibrarians) or us not understanding them (scientists)."
I feel I am acting as a Cassandra or Jeremiah by saying that the issue is deadly clear. I am sorry to say the following, but it's true.
Most scientists don't care about (science) librarians. I talked last week with a very senior bioscientist - dean of science - editor of prestigious journal (which does its own data reposition, without help from libraries). I will not repeat what he said in detail becuase it will hurt too much, but a simple version is that libraries are a costly irrelevance and should be got rid of. I have no doubt that's a very widespread view in science.
There is no compulsion for the scientist to come to or understand the library. Scientists are already finding ways (Pubmed, EBI, Wikipedia, Nature Precedings, Wellcome Trust, etc.) to manage information without libraries. Scientific research manages hundreds of billions of dollars annually. ULibraries are topsliced, at least in part, from that.Topslicing is always an unpopular tax.
So I am trying to help libraries, rather than attacking them when I say that it is up to them to approach scientists - and very rapidly - because that is where the money and the power is.
That's the simple truth. It may be too late to do anything - I don't know.