Merry Christmas...almost!

Merry Christmas to everyone who subscribes to/reads the Running Librarian Blog. The Running Librarian is off now until early in the New Year and it looks like 2009 is going to be an exciting year with lots of speaking opportunities.

Have a great Christmas and New Year!

Are we losing out when it comes to Web 2.0?

This is the attention grabbing title of an article* in the December 2008 edition of Inside Knowledge Magazine. In it they report on a White Paper published by Spada Research entitled "The Laity Bytes back? The impact of Web 2.0 on UK Professionals" the report was actually published in September, but I've only just spotted it! The report is broken down into the following sections:

  • Current knowledge and usage levels (with the obligatory explanation of Web 2.0 apps)
  • What can Web 2.0 do for the professions?
  • The way forward: what the professions can do for Web 2.0

Perhaps the most interesting part of the report is the section on "Why we should act now?" the report puts forward three arguments:

  • To maintain the competitive advantage in providing services that clients want
  • To build levels of knowledge and expertise (via Blogs and Wikis)
  • To attract and keep the highest quality talent

The last point is quite interesting, this is about young people being the "natives" of Web 2.0 and so expecting these types of tools to be available to them once they start there working life. In my mind it doesn't quite work like this though. I've certainly not yet been asked by a Trainee Solicitor where the firm's version of Facebook is, but perhaps I'm just not involved in the right conversations or maybe we are being asked for these tools just in much subtler ways.

*You will need a subscription to Inside Knowledge Magazine to read this article online.

The case for collaborative tools

This article from the December 2008 edition of AALL Spectrum looks at how Web-based collaborative tools could be used by Law Librarians.

In it the authors report on how they were asked to speak at the 2008 AALL meeting in Portland and needed to use collaborative tools to prepare their talk, from there they carried out a survey to find out if anyone was currently using collaborative tools within their organisations. The results are very interesting as are as are some of the issues discussed in the article.

I especially enjoyed reading about "some of the things to considers before used Web-based collaboration tools" some of which include:

  • That the project is suitable for long-distance collaboration
  • That the collaborative tools chosen are appropriate
  • That the project does not pose a cost issue for anyone collaborating

Some other highlights from the article, including perhaps the best reason to consider collaborative tools:

"If used properly, the use of collaborative tools can decrease the cost of daily operations...the number of emails piling up in one's inbox could be drastically reduce with short chats over a chat client or posting on a blog or wiki" and if you have a strong environmental policy "...institutions can still promote an enviromentally-friendly message by reducing the amount of paper waster and pollution associated with unnecessary transportation" all very good reasons to use collaborative tools in my mind.

But what about some of the issues associated with using collaborative tools? These are also addressed in the article "it is (especially) important to consider the level of computer literacy of all collaborators and the collaborators levels of comfort when using these tools" there is also the argument that "web-based communication" is very different from face-to-face contact and this is discussed in some detail in the article, with many of the respondents to the authors original survey indicating that they did miss human contact.

So can we forget about ever speaking to another human being ever again, in favour of using these tools?

"while collaborative tools provide a venue for long-distance communication, there isn't a tool in the market now that could absolutely replace face-to-face interaction"

Want to know more about the semantic web?

Then take a look at this article on Fumsi, which has a brief introduction to the Semantic Web (which even I understood) and then some predictions on how the Semantic Web will change Information Management (which I struggled a bit more with!)

  • Prediction 1 - A move from the pull to the push search paradigm, or more "context-aware" applications
  • Prediction 2 - the battle of the identifiers or the age of pointing at things
  • Prediction 3 - the changing role of the information professional

This is where it all gets interesting! With the author asking the question "...we we all need to become ontologists" hopefully not as I'm quite happy with my job title at the moment, but..."the skills of information professionals will be essential in populating and managing the Web of data (the Semantic Web)

Enterprise 2.0 for KM Professionals

I don't usually write about Enterprise 2.0 in this blog, I have another blog where I write more extensively about Enterprise 2.0 but the following post on the Portals and KM Blog caught my eye. Entitled "Forrester on Enterprise 2.0 for KM Professionals" the post describes a recent Forrester report on Enterprise Web 2.0.

Bill provides a summary of the report, which is unfortunately way out of my price league, some of the points he makes will definitely be of interest to anyone thinking about or currently looking at Enterprise 2.0*

First up some of the options organisations face:

  • You could for IT to provide approved Web 2.0 tools, but this might lead to competitive disadvantage
  • You could use some of the Web 2.0 tools available externally but this might cause headaches with IT and these tools aren't designed for use within an Enterprise, unless you want to spend some serious money

Then the technologies that you could use, no surprises here with RSS, Social Bookmarking, Widgets and Wikis all mentioned. Finally Bill outlines the conclusions from the report my favourites "set your expectations: Web 2.0...will improve the business, but not transform it..." and "no one pointed to any one tool as must have"

An interesting post, just a shame I wont get to look at the report!

*Enterprise 2.0 = making Social Media available behind the firewall (check Wikipedia for a better definition)

Twitter, the good the bad and the ugly...

I’ve been using Twitter for a while now…at the last count I had posted 1415 Tweets, am following 110 people and am being followed by 112 people. Recently though I’ve struggled to understand the true value of Twitter (and I don’t mean in US Dollars).

To clarify just how important is Twitter for Information Professionals?

If you’re not currently using Twitter but have heard about or have listened to someone rave about it you’d be forgiven for thinking it was just about reporting the minute details of your life, this does happen and is an important aspect of Twitter. But Twitter should do much more than this…Twitter should be a place for asking questions, for being alerted to new resources and useful websites and in my case to post things which I either don’t have the time to put on my blog or don’t feel are appropriate for my blog and for the people I'm following to do the same, at least this is my expectation.

Recently Charonqc wrote a very thorough review of Twitter, which is well worth reading but what interested me was a point he makes quite early in the post where he says “there is a fantastic amount of output out there and it is very easy to get buried in a mass of information, noise, comment , social chit chat and spam. The basic idea is that Twitter is a real time communication tool, enabling you to receive information from those you follow” My problem with this is that the people I follow are usually people I either know because they work in the same sector/field as me or they work with Web 2.0/Social media as a result I generally expect their Tweets to be relevant to the work I do and serious in their nature…but this is far from the case…

Lets take a relatively recent conversation that occurred on Twitter, I have changed the names of the individuals involved to protect their innocence and please remember this is just a reconstruction so the actual conversation will have been different.

Follower X – What a lovely day I’m thinking about eating a cream puff
Follower Y – Oy oy I fancy a bit of your cream puff
Follower X – Oh you naughty boy
Follower Z – You promised that cream puff to me
Follower X – We can share
Follower Y – Can I watch?

How I wonder if this valuable, should I just ignore it? Remonstrate? or unfollow these people but then as Charonqc says there are some issues associated with doing this…”be warned…I tried to unfollow some spammers and ended up unfollowing some people I wanted to follow…so I had to refollow them” What happens if I unfollow someone and the next day they post something really useful that I would be interested in, is this just the risk you have to take? Is clearing out who you’re following on Twitter a bit like clearing out RSS Feeds you’re no longer interested in or don’t find valuable anymore?

Perhaps I should also lower my expectations of what value I’m actually going to derive from Twitter. It is after all a Social Networking for individuals not for people working within a company so of course there are going to be frivolous and social tweets, so is it a case of just blocking or filtering these out using tools like Twhirl or Tweetdeck or organising my followers so I derive more value from the Tweets they are posting?

Law publishing at the crossroads

In this article from the November 2008 edition of Solicitors Journal* Nick Holmes of Binary Law and Free Legal Web fame looks at how law firms knowledge needs are being met by the law publishers and how the internet is changing the industry.

Nick writes frequently about Legal Publishers and the publishing industry on Binary Law, so it is no surprise that this is a very informative article. Some highlights from the article:

On the publishing revolution "Now the Web - Web 2.0 in particular has rewritten all the rules. All aspects of the publishing process are now more accessible to more people. With Web 2.0, we are all publishers now.

The reasons why this is important to both Legal Publishers and Law Firms soon becomes clear "That poses substantial challenges for the dominant publishers, who must now to a large extent reinvent themselves to maintain their leading position" and " law publishing has become easier and web use more pervasive, so have users become more demanding"

Are Law Firms more demanding? We are certainly under more pressure now especially in the current economic crisis. Budgets are already and will continue to be tightened and every subscription is considered carefully in terms of usage and the value it brings the firm.

So what are the Legal Publishers doing about it? Nick points to an article in Information World Review which discusses the impact of the credit crunch on Legal Publishers, unfortunately ther isn't much good news for anyone working in a law firm who is looking for "more for their money" and for smaller firms it may be that they simply cant afford to susbcribe to the likes of LexisNexis Butterworths or Westlaw.

But there is some good news and that is the development of Free Services, Nick highlights several in his article including "...the Statute Law Database...while this is a huge boon to many, it is not yet complete: a small number of Acts remain to be loaded...there is also some anecdotal evidence that is it not entirely accurate" so not entirely good news but there are some other examples of free services, which may have a siginificant impact on how Law Firms access information which has traditionally been provided by Legal Publishers.

The final area Nick discusses is the development of Web 2.0 by the Legal Publishers "Use of Web 2.0 is the norm for the new breed of small law publishers. The larger incumbents are finally responding" It certainly looks like this is gathering pace, with both PLC and Lawtel rolling out RSS Feeds for their products and the new Sweet & Maxwell website likely to have RSS Feeds sometime in 2009.

So what does the future hold, are Legal Publishers at a crossroads? Nick summaries this quite nicely "...commercial law publishing incumbents are not going to wither any time soon...but the freeing up of legal information...will begin to have significant impact as the potential for leveraging and adding value to that information is better developed"

*You will need a subscription to read this article

Getting started with enterprise social networking

A great post here from the Headshift Blog the post is a summary of Lee Bryant's talk at Online Information where he discussed how Social Networking could be used within an enterprise.

Lee's slides cover four main points, but as he says there are many more potential uses for Social Networking within an enterprise, including:

"Social reading and writing" - this is about sharing what people are reading about by using RSS

"Social search and expertise location" As Lee says Social networks are a great way to find people and can help show "connections and networks" that you might not have been aware of.

"Social networking for collaboration"

"Social networking for key client relationships" Lee describes this as a great way to "keep in close touch with key clients" I'm not sure poking is appropriate though!

"Unified messaging" or Twitter behind the firewall

Lee also makes some really useful points about how to start using Social Networking, including those conversations you need to have with IT, but which we all dread. As Lee says "not one of those blinkered IT conversations that says all sharing is wrong and employees cannot be trusted to speak or write about their work, but rather a conversation that looks at benefits vs costs and real risks based on evidence, not assumptions"

I couldn't agree more with this statement and too often have gone into meetings with IT to discuss Web 2.0/Social Media only for them to say "well we don't want to do that because it is dangerous and we know someone is going to abuse the system"

There is also a mention for Information Professional's in Lee's post, which is nice..."...look at the role of information and communication professionals, and seek to find ways of making their activity more focused on information networking and helping others develop key competencies around searching, sharing and personal information management"

This is an important point and something that we can all do something about by making the stuff we read about and write more readily available, be that via a blog or on a Wiki or as part of a feed from a Social Bookmarking all helps!

My *new* blog URL

Finally after umming and ahhing for almost I year I have sat down and changed my custom domain name to

It looks like and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my feed will come with me and I wont lose all my existing subscribers. I feel like I've finally got closure from although if you type this in your address bar it will redirect!

I can tick one of those New Years resolutions off my list...

My blog template

I've not been happy with my blog template for a while I've decided to change it and get rid of some of the clutter that was on my previous template.

I'm pretty pleased with the result although my technical skills have let me down again...

(1) The title of the blog "The Running Librarian" isn't clear enough

(2) I like the first picture in the header but not the flower...not sure what this says about me!

35 tips for getting started with social media

I love this list of 35 tips for getting started with Social Media. Some of my favourite tips...

  • "Find the top 50 blogs in your space, and subscribe to their RSS feeds in Google Reader. Consistently be on the lookout for new blogs, and the voices behind them."
  • "Listen to what's being said about you. Create Google alerts to monitor for positive or negative chatter."
  • "Become an expert in your field. Try to align and surround yourself with the best tools, and people to accomplish this. It's all about networking, networking and networking. Take it offline when permitting. Organize local social media meetups and tweetups. Make it an effort to attend trade shows when possible."
  • "Be omnipresent on all the networks. I should be able to find out about your latest happenings, and or statuses if I am browsing your Facebook profile, Linked profile, Twitter or FriendFeed stream"

I hope I'm doing at least some of these!

[Hat Tip - iLibrarian]

Third Sector 2.0

Anne Welsh, whom I met at a Web 2.0 event last year and who writes frequently about the use of Web 2.0 in the third sector has published the slides from her talk at Online Information 2008. In them she describes the use of Web 2.0 applications in the Third Sector.

They are well worth reviewing, my favourite slide has to be on Campaigning and Comms in which Anne Says "Information Professionals need to network and sell our skills" it may sound obvious, but this is something I feel we do really badly and would encourage anyone to do...even if that means using Facebook!

So you think you're doing Enterprise 2.0?

Looking for an introduction to Enterprise 2.0 and some thoughts on what Enterprise 2.0 really is? Then take a look at this post from the Library Clips blog.

In in the author asks, whether "you really are doing Enterprise 2.0" since there has been much discussion recently around what the focus of Enterprise 2.0 should be. Is it about new technologies or is about users and the networks they are in?

The author then goes on to discuss the different ways of implementing "Intranet 2.0" in your organisation, these are described as;

  • Tactical Social Computing - where individuals start using Blogs or Wkis to get their work done, but the tools aren't widely distributed within the organisation. This as the author suggest is a "great stepping stone to...broad implementation"

  • Enterprise Web 2.0 "this approach is more focused on the use ofWeb 2.0 oriented architecture and Web application frameworks (AJAX, XML, AIR, ATOM, RSS) rather than the social aspects such as blogs and wikis"
  • Enterprise 2.0 "…an Enterprise 2.0 strategy is something quite different from either the tactical use of social computing or the narrow adoption of Web 2.0 technologies - it is both a technology and business change, where social computing tools help flatten and also reflect the flatness of organisations"

A useful article for anyone interested or involved in Enterprise 2.0 or Web 2.0 application.

Librarians are recession proof... least according to an article in Men's Health, yes I read Men's Health and not just for the pretty pictures. I do run sometimes you know...

Unfortunately they go on to say that a "Specialist Librarians" starting salary is £60k, they are definitely special if they are getting paid that much and that you might end up alphabetically organising everything you come into contact least we got a mention!

The Three-E strategy

Following on from a recent post during which I asked why more law firms aren't using Web 2.0 I read a very interesting article in the Educase Quarterly on a strategy for overcoming resistance to technological change.

This can be a major issue for any organisation trying to implement a new piece of technology and can ultimately lead to failure. So what should your strategy be, well the article suggest a three step approach.

Firstly your technology should be "evident" and this means two things (1) Users must be made aware of the new technology (2) Users expectations must be set in terms of costs and the benefits associated with using this new technology.

Secondly and this might sound obvious, the new technology should be easy to use and intuitive. This is an area that is often neglected so getting it right from the start rather then having to make wholesale changes weeks or months into the rollout is a good thing!

Finally the new technology should be essential, so don't just implement micro-blogging behind the firewall because it "is cool" There has to be a requirement for the technology that goes beyond someone just thinking, well it might be useful one day!

Web 2.0 yes or no no no?

The economic downturn will not spell the end for Web 2.0 firms according to this article from the BBC Website.

In fact according to Tim O'Reilly (slightly famous dude who originally coined the term Web 2.0) it might improve the tools that are available to us by "clearing out the clutter" In other words the sensible serious applications will flourish and the frivolous here "catch this sheep" applications will die.

So what do people think will "Web 2.0" get more serious as the downturn continues?

Us Now

The Headshift Blog recently posted about this Film Project they have been involved in. I'd love to be able to see the film, but unfortunately it is too short notice for me to attend the screenings.

Anyway the film is about the "power of mass collaboration, government and the internet" Some of the clips are well worth watching, especially the interview with Liam Daish, manager of my local football club Ebbsfleet United.

In case you're not a big follower of Ebbsfleet United as well being the current FA Trophy champions they are owned by their fans, that's right their fans as part of the web community My Football Club, what this effectively means is that fans can vote on players they would like purchased, put forward ideas for tactics etc and this is what Liam discusses "collaborative management" If that term doesn't exist I'm going to claim it!

There are also some intersting clips of MP's talking about the potential for "Open Source Government" although my feeling is that some of this already happens, at least at a local level. Below is the trailer for the film if anybody wants a sneak preview of the content...