Help construct a global directory of information professionals

from the National Library Australian newspaper...

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Dear all

A very good suggestion has come from simonfj, a reader who has suggested that we develop a global directory of the subject/disciplinary groups that are involved with digitisation, so that we can progress the notion (and work!) of collaboration.  The Australian Access Federation enables collaboration internationally, as well as between disciplinary groups – it sounds ideal.   His comment reads:

Gotta question though.One of the things I’m interested in is coming up with a directory for global subject/disciplinary groups. They call them ‘external’ groups at INternet2.

Taking that a bunch of NREN network managers can come up with federated log in to a group’s members’ space and integrate a number of “common services” could librarians com up with the directory?

I am sure that by ‘librarians’, he means all of us.  To this end, I have built a new wall for comments.  If you visit the website below, you will find that you can add a virtual ‘post-it’ note which expresses your point of view: you can also include media files and URLs.  Then, we can easily see and consider – and comment on – each other’s proposals.

I am excited to see what emerges out of this exercise!

All the best


We just aren’t sexy enough. Digital World, Part 2.

World Summit on the Information Society, Tunis...

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Information professionals are not taken seriously.  In fact, it is doubtful if we are ‘taken’ at all: who ever thinks of us?  Were we a news-breaking element in the World Summit on the Information Society?  Are librarians, archivists, records managers and other information professionals regularly consulted when so-called ‘information policies’ are being created? (I put ‘information policies’ in inverted commas as they usually have to do with either technology or economics, rather than information itself).  Why is all the theory that already exists in the field – in information retrieval, user behaviour, learning, categorisation and so on – steadfastly ignored, only to be laboriously reinvented when required? We are concerned with ‘upliftment’ and ‘preservation of cultural heritage’ and ‘corporate memory’.  We are anxious that people don’t ‘know’ enough, and give them more than they need to know (something I myself have been rather guilty of in this blog, flooding you with my opinion).  We understand the consequences of losing or destroying documents, and so are preoccupied with preservation and conservation. Anybody concerned with technology is a ‘geek’: a male with gross personal habits and no social habits; usually with pimples and a paunch from pizzas, he performs magic at his keyboard which is totally incomprehensible to a non-geek. We are doing things the wrong way.  We are not taken seriously because we take ourselves too seriously. We are out of line with the current cultural environment, in which everything is easy, quick, attractive. With all our talk of ‘the user’, we are making the classic mistakes that Mrs Thompson made with me in Grade 8 Mathematics: (a) she assumed that I understood what quadratic equations were; (b) she thought I cared and (c) she assumed I loved mathematics and would exert myself to overcome the obstacles that stood in my way.  She was wrong on all accounts. We must start with where the user is.  The user spends his/her day in a world of unemployment, recession and mobile technologies.  S/he is stifled in an oppressive regime, in a world of immeasurable opportunity, has access to anything or everything or nothing; suffers inequities of gender, sexuality, religion, race, class or political persuasion.  Even the ‘good’ countries are flawed:  look at income distribution in the US :  His/her favourite activities are playing computer games, abusing alcohol and drugs, living an alternative lifestyle for the planet, or struggling to survive.  S/he can’t believe what s/he reads ( or hears (Gulf oil is not a fossil fuel:; New World Order and the US Federal Emergency Management Agency:; US military is spraying chemicals into the air: – pick your own conspiracy theory) but often doesn’t know the difference, or doesn’t even care.  They are downloading all the movies and TV shows they want to see using Utorrent or BitTorrent.  Do they care about breaking copyright laws?  Doesn’t look like it. Can we compete when most of our research looks at relatively sophisticated educated people: students, scholars and academics?   How much information information is communicated on any given day in any given organisation that changes the way the organisation works?  How many students request advice from a librarian for an essay?  How many governments consider their political legacies in terms of the documents they leave behind? How can we get a new healthy outlook and a sexy new approach?  We need to reinvent and rejuvenate.  We will also need to increase our numbers, and our specialisations, enormously.  The digital information environment is throwing up challenges that we haven’t even started to consider, as we plan and strategise for a digital future. Do you agree?

Just a quick one to start the week

Thank you to all of you who are following the early days of this blog.  We are hoping it will go from strength to strength.  As I learn more about the possibilities offered by WordPress, I will include them here.  What I am examining at the moment is ways in which you – as the community – can participate in a clearer way, other than by adding comments to post I may make.  In other words, I would like to have the possibility that you can initiate your own posts or pages.

Until I get that sorted, I would like to ask you to submit topics/questions/issues/whatever’s on your mind concerning ways in which all of us can work together in more collaborative ways.  Such topics might include those which must be addressed in order to facilitate working together collaboratively, or they may be topics that illustrate and describe projects that we need to (or it would be desirable for us to) work on together.  Then we can think about the different contributions that different sectors can make to such projects.

Larry Medina, a good but until now still virtual friend who lives in California and has extensive experience in managing organisational information, has suggested the idea of developing a protocol that explains and describes processes and procedures that information professionals – especially now in the digital world – should be involved in when others in an organisation (be they senior management, government, councils or whoever) decides to buy technologies, or initiate information strategies.  This protocol is not easy to describe: ‘Strategic asset management’ is one suggestion.  The gist of this notion is that information professionals (of all kinds) should be involved from the very beginning of such projects, so that all the issues relevant to us can be considered in advance and accommodated, rather than being left simply to try and play catch-up, which happens all too often, sadly.  Or is your experience different?

So I’m doing my own ‘crowd sourcing’ here – getting the opinions of a very special group of people.  Please write a couple of sentences, or a couple of words, that can get us thinking, speculating, imagining, describing.

Have a wonderful week, all.