Join me (along with Henry Bankhead, Mark Coker, Eli Neiburger, and Mary Minow) on Monday April 11th at noon (Pacific) / 3pm (Eastern) for a raucous discussion on eBooks and library lending.  If you have questions in advance, send them in to me!  The day of the webinar, sponsored and hosted by Infopeople, go to http://infopeople.org/training/webinar/ebooks

Monday, April 11, 2011
Start Time: Pacific – Noon, Mountain – 1:00 PM, Central – 2:00 PM, Eastern – 3:00 PM
Speakers: Henry Bankhead, Sarah Houghton-Jan, Mark Coker, Eli Neiburger, and Mary Minow

  • Is there true ownership of eBooks for libraries?
  • Can libraries exist without ownership of eBooks?
  • What is the best access model for eBooks?
  • Is there a right of first sale that applies to eBooks?

The recent decision by HarperCollins to switch to a licensing model for eBooks has the public library world in an uproar and has spawned numerous boycotts of HarperCollins by public libraries. Instead of allowing libraries to “purchase” one digital copy and lend it sequentially to an unlimited number of library users, HarperCollins has instead opted to only license each of their eBooks for 26 uses. After the 26 circulations are used up, the library must purchase an additional license.

This change has primarily affected Overdrive users, the lion’s share of the public library eBook market, but will apply to all distributors of HarperCollins eBook content. More important, this shift exposes the questionable nature of ownership in the library and consumer eBook landscape.

Please join us for a lively one-hour webinar panel discussion of the role of eBooks, the public library, lending limits, ownership, the right of first use and digital copyright.

Webinars are free of charge and registration is only done on the day of the event on the WebEx server. No passwords are required.

Do you require an accommodation? Closed captioning will be provided upon request. For this service, please notify ipweb@infopeople.org at least 3 days beforethe webinar.

The following passage is from Peter F. Hamilton‘s 2008 book Misspent Youth, a fabulous piece of speculative science fiction.  I was struck by Hamilton’s description of a world where information truly is free, where digital access to data is considered to be a right and not a hypothetical dream. While I don’t see things shaking out the way he predicted, Hamilton does a fabulous job of pointing out the benefits and the possible negative effects of a 100% free datasphere (a much better name than “internet,” incidentally).  Read on, and see what this makes you think of.  How can the publishing industry fulfill the human need for information instead of fighting against it?  How can licensing for individuals and libraries work for the betterment of the artist and the consumer?  I often find that science fiction and speculative fiction get my mind going about current issues and challenges.  I get inspired.  See if this passage does for you what it did for me.

Excerpt from Peter F. Hamilton‘s Misspent Youth:

Tim produced a mildly awkward grin. He’d grown up with every byte in the datasphere being free. That was the natural way of things; instant unlimited access to all files was a fundamental human right. Restriction was the enemy. Evil. Governments restricted information cloaking their true behavior from the media and public, although enough of it leaked out anyway. He’d never really thought of the economic fallout from the macro storage capability delivered by crystal memories. It was a simple enough maxim: Everything that can be digitized can be stored and distributed across the datasphere, every file can be copied a million, a billion, times over.  Once it has been released into the public domain, it can never be recalled, providing a universal open-source community.

After the turn of the century, as slow phone line connections were replaced by broadband cables into every home, and crystal memories took over from sorely limited hard drives and rewritable CDs, more and more information was liberated from its original and singular owners.  The music industry, always in the forefront of the battle against open access, was the first to crumble.  Albums and individual tracks were already available in a dozen different electronic formats, ready to be traded and swapped.  Building up total catalogue availability took hardly any time at all.

As ultra-high-definition screens hit the market, paper books were scanned in, or had their e-book version’s encryption hacked.  Films were downloaded as soon as they hit the cinema, and on a few celebrated occasions actually before they premiered.

All of these media were provided free through distributed source networks established by anonymous enthusiasts and fanatics–even a few dedicated anticapitalists determined to burn Big Business and stop them from making “excessive profits.”  Lawyers and service providers tried to stamp it out.  At first they tried very hard.  But there was no longer a single source site to quash, no one person to threaten with fines and prison.  Information evolution meant that the files were delivered from uncountable computers that simply shared their own specialist subject architecture software.  The Internet had long ago destroyed geography.  Now the datasphere removed individuality from the electronic universe, and with it responsibility.

Excessive profits took the nosedive every open-source, Marxist, and Green idealist wanted.  Everybody who’d ever walked into a shop and grumbled about the price of a DVD or CD finally defeated the rip-off retailer and producer, accessing whatever they wanted for free.  Record companies, film studios, and publishers saw their income crash dramatically.  By 2009 band managers could no longer afford to pay for recording time, session musicians, promotional videos, and tours.  There was no money coming in from the current blockbusters to invest in the next generation, and certainly no money for art films.  Writers could still write their books, but they’d never be paid for them; the datasphere snatched them away the instant the first review copy was sent out.  New games were hacked and sent flooding through the datasphere like electronic tsunami for everyone to ride and enjoy.  Even the BBC and other public service television companies were hit as their output was channeled directly into the datasphere; nobody bothered to pay their license fee anymore.  Why should they?

After 2010, the nature of entertainment changed irrevocably, conforming to the datasphere’s dominance.  New songs were written and performed by amateurs.  Professional writers either created scripts for commercial cable television or went back to the day job and released work for free, while nonprofessional writers finally got to expose their rejected manuscripts to the world–which seemed as unappreciative as editors always had.  Games were put together by mutual interest teams, more often than not modifying and mixing pre10 originals.  Hollywood burned.  With the big time over, studios diverted their dwindling resources into cable shows, soaps, and series; they didn’t even get syndication and Saturday morning reruns anymore, let along DVD rental fees and sales.  Everything was a one-off released globally, sponsored by commercials and product placement.

It was a heritage Tim had never considered in any detail.  Then a couple of years back he’d watched Dark Sister, the adaptation of one of Graham’s novels.  The pre10 film was spooky and surprisingly suspenseful, and he’d made the error of telling Graham he quite liked it.  The novelist’s response wasn’t what he expected.  Graham held his hand out and said: “That’ll be five euros, please.”

“What?” a perplexed Tim asked.  He wanted to laugh, but Graham looked fearsomely serious.

“Five euros.  I think that’s a reasonable fee, don’t you?”

“For what?”

“I wrote the book.  I even wrote some of the screenplay.  Don’t I deserve to be paid for my time and my craft?”

“But it’s in the datasphere.  It has been for decades.”

“I didn’t put it there.”

Tim wasn’t sure what to say; he even felt slightly guilty.  After all, he’d once complained to Dad about not raking in royalties from crystal memories.  But that was different, he told himself: crystal memories were physical, Dark Sister was data, pure binary information.

“Fear not, Tim,” Graham said.  “It’s an old war now, and we were beaten.  Lost causes are the worst kind to fight.  I just enjoy a bit of agitation now and then.  At my age there’s not much fun left in life.”

Tim didn’t believe that at all.

Julian Aiken, Yale Law Library

Julian was a hilarious speaker.

Every librarian ought to be allowed to muck around with a brilliant but rummy idea.  “When we aim for the stars, we tend to bonk our heads on the ceiling.”  He proposed automated materials sorting but was denied.  He proposed barcoding his dog and checking the dog out.  He wanted to take a look at how others achieve their moments of brilliance.  “When in doubt, cheat, copy, steal, and pillage..”  If you’re snooping around for brilliance and innovation, there’s one place to go – the creators of the deep-fried Snickers bar.  So he went to Google instead for what they do.  Where does the 1% inspiration come from?  Google has their 80/20 innovation model, which has produced Google News, Gmail, and the Google shuttle buses.  This model encourages Google employees to spend 20% of their time on projects that speak to their personal interests and passions.  His immediate bosses are splendid individuals that were willing to give this model a try.  Achieving institutional buy-in for an 80/20 model can be hard.  A commonly raised objection has been that in financially tight times, it’s difficult or even irresponsible to take staff away from their core duties.  The Google Innovation model provides libraries an opportunity to reward deserving staff.  Unscrupulous institutions award promotions, awards, and bigger offices in the place of cash.  With the Google model, they’re rewarded with a variety of work that they care about, and ultimately make the workplace a pleasant and happier environment.  Is necessity truly the mother of invention?  He listed several inventions from World War II that had the audience rolling.  And then there was a pantomime horse – two ends, both alike in dignity – meant to represent different departments in a library able to work together respectfully.  He works at the Beinecke Library at Yale.  The proposal for the Google 80/20 program resulted in a lot of cross-training in the library.  They have 6 staff in his department, 4 of whom are actively participating in the program.  It’s more like 90/10 though.  Some of the projects they’re working on: digitization, open access legal scholarship repository.  He is going to get his dog circulated at the library now too :)

eBooks and Their Growing Value for Libraries (PART 1)

Chad Mairn, Amy Pawlowski, Sue Polanka, Ellen Druda

Amy: 1/5 of the US online population reads at least two books per month.  How are we going to capture that audience?  If you own a Kindle and download a book a week, you spend $500 a year on eBooks.  Where can you get them for free?  The library.  94% of academic libraries already offer eBooks.  By 2020 academic eContent expenditures will reach 80% of the collection budget.  67% of academic libraries either already offer or are planning to offer mobile device content and services.  In 2015, 25% of textbook revenue will be from digital textbooks.  Course management systems are a great way to embed our resources for students.  24/7 access is a huge boon for eContent.  eContent meets users where they are.  The eReader and tablet market is huge. 1/3 of US online customers will be using a tablet in the next few years.  Smart phones surpassed the sales of PCs on a quarterly basis.  The argument that eBooks are only for the people who can afford the devices is no longer salient.  Smart phone penetration is highest among ethnic minorities (Sarah’s Note: Socioeconomic status and ethnicity are not the same thing. I don’t understand the connection made here, and actually found it rather offensive.  It’s like saying “all the poor people in your communities are minorities.”)  Pricing models will change as the market grows.  HarperCollins was one of the first big publishers to start offering eBooks.  Things are going to change and we’re going to have to deal with it.  72% of libraries are offering eBooks, and the rest of the libraries should start thinking about it by grouping with a consortium locally.  If you have a collection and you’re not taking it seriously, you need to start.  If you don’t put new titles in there, people won’t come back to look at the collection.  Consider circulating devices.  Start planning for the future of eBooks now.

Sue: The future is not eBooks; it’s eContent.  If you have the opportunity to sit down and talk with a publisher, take advantage of the chance to tell them what’s not working.  There are two taskforces in ALA working on eContent, which we were encouraged to work with and follow.  Library Renewal is a group to be aware of – a non-profit organization founded by 5 librarians who feel very strongly about the future of digital content and the accessibility of this content to all of our users.  In Ohio, they purchase their digital content – they don’t license it.  They had to build a platform and host it themselves, which is a lot of work.  But it’s worth it to have ownership of the content.  Self-publishing is taking off.  How are we going to buy that content?  Open access is a huge opportunity for us as well.  And usher in digital textbooks.  The estimate is that the Kindle will be free by the end of this year.  Sony Reader has a library program with their readers.  Overdrive is developing an eReader Certification Program.

Ellen: eBook circulation has skyrocketed in libraries over the last few years as smart phones, tablets, and eReaders became popular devices.  At her library, the traditional book club members aren’t interested in eBooks and have trouble with the technology.  You have tech-savvy eBook readers, traditional print book readers, and everyone else somewhere in between.  Staff training was necessary for their library when they brought in eBook readers.  They had an Overdrive demo with various devices.  They did traditional marketing for eBooks: bookmarks, posters, banners, Twitter, Facebook, etc.  She mentioned the iDrakula app, a book turned into an app which came from a graphic novel originally.  They brought the author in via Skype for a back-and-forth with the library users who read the book.  Next month they’re doing a book discussion summit and trying to get traditional and eBook club members in one room.

Sujay Darji and Stephen Abram were the speakers for this session.  Sujay Darji started off by discussing his work at SWETS with eBooks.  SWETS is a subscription agent primarily known for aggregating periodicals.  So what do the content suppliers (aka publishers) need from subscription agents like SWETS?  Aggregators started approaching subscription agents wanting them to distribute their content.  A lot of small to medium sized publishers were inexperienced with eBook distribution models and purchasing models.  SWETS tried to close some of those gaps.  Subscription agents needed to decide what terms and conditions they wanted to put into place for eBooks.  What are the headaches librarians experience with eBooks?  It’s difficult to compare pricing between vendors because there are content &  “platform” fees.  It’s hard to find out what eBook titles are available and hard to compare licensing terms.  Digital rights management, dictated by publishers, is inconsistent and horrible.   How many eBook platforms are there out there?  SWETS wanted to focus on acquisition of eBooks.  His approach to eBooks is three-fold – acquire, manage, and access.  Managing millions of cross-publisher eBooks in one platform lets you navigate and control your collection without having to jump between platforms.  With the SWETS model, there is no need to create a separate platform.  Simply integrate your eBooks into your existing publicly viewable discovery systems/ILSs.  The tool is a free tool that is open to all users.  There is no platform fee, which is a relevant research tool that you can use to build your collection.

Stephen Abram’s talk was entitled Frankenbooks (LOVE IT!).   When we’re reading with a little bit of light on a screen, interaction with the screen is encouraged.  If we use a codex model to try to understand what textbooks of the future will look like, we’ll get it wrong.  How do you engage learners, researchers, teachers, curriculum heads, testers, and assessors to agree on reforming their eBook textbooks?  Most eBooks are text that you can read end to end.  Many eBooks, though, you just want to read a specific section.  Stephen showed traditional publishing bingo and electronic publishing bingo cards J  Want!  Why do people like the smell of books?  Smell is the largest memory trigger, and with books they’re remembering all of the things they learned, how they felt, etc.  How would you enhance a book?  What framework would you use?  We cannot take the old format and carry all the compromises forward.  Where do publishers move with all of the new options?  When you look at the physical act of reading, how does the act of learning happen?  The Cengage eBooks have embedded video, use HTML5, etc.  Look at the reading experience itself, not the devices.   He expressed deep concern about advertising making its way into eBooks, particularly in the Google Books project.  What if eTextBooks showed reports to teachers of what the students have actually read, how they’re doing on quizzes, etc.?  Scholarly works – how does one do profitable publishing of “boring stuff”?  Stephen emphasized the idiocy of the Google “single station per library” model.  Amazon squashed Lendle, a Kindle book lending program.  And Stephen pointed out that lending content—isn’t that something we do?  Device issues are huge.  Are we okay with Steve Jobs deciding what we read?   Stephen feels like there’s less concern about the craziness of eBook standards.  We’re in a renaissance for formats and standards.  We don’t want to re-create all of the compromises of the codex in the 19th century.  The Enterouge Edge reader is a dual screen reader.  Librarians need to understand the US FCC Whitespace Broadband decision.  We need to be mindful of mobile dominance, geo-awareness, wireless as a business strategy, and that the largest generation is here and using this technology now.  What are we doing promoting a minority-based learning style (end to end text-based learning) to the majority of our users?  If we keep fighting all of our battles with publishers on text-based books, we’re failing as librarians.  Multimedia and integration is the future.  What is a book?  Why do people read?  And how do we engage with all of the opportunities we have in front of us now?  Serve everyone!  We have to move faster.  Try to influence the ecosystem on a large scale.  Work with your consortium to effect change.  Let’s move faster together!

David Lee King, Nate Hill, and I presented a session on making user interactions rock.

David’s half of the session was a discussion of “meta-social.”  How do you connect with your users?  David has a list of 8 metasocial tools.

#1: status updates.  Answer questions, ask questions, market the library’s events and services, share multi-media, All of this equals real connections to your customers.  David’s library posted a user comment from their physical comment box about the art gallery, and the artist commented back, then a user…libraries connecting customers to the content creator.

#2: long posts.  Blogs are examples of this, even Facebook notes, longer descriptions under a Flickr photo.  It’s a way to share ideas in a longer format—events, thoughts, reviews, new materials.  David’s library’s local history department posted a photo of a cupola from a building in the town that was demolished.  They wrote about it in a blog post on their website, talking about the demolition and how they got the artifacts.

#3: comments.  All of those status updates and longer posts don’t live in a vacuum.  Comment back and have a conversation with users who are commenting to you.  On one of the library’s children’s blogs, the author commented back on a post about his/her book.

#4: visuals.  This can include photos and videos.  Blip.tv, YouTube, and Vimeo are the usual suspects for video.  Flickr and Picassa are most-used for photos.  And this multi-media visual content can be embedded in many places.  David showed a neat photo from the library’s “edible books” program.  It’s a way to extend a physical event, getting more customer interaction and use online than you probably did in-person.

#5: livestreaming.  This allows people to watch moments as they happen.  David suggests livestreaming library events.

#6: friending and subscribing (aka following or liking).  This lets users tell you they like you, but it also is a way for you to show that love back to your users.

#7:  checking in.  Yelp, Facebook Places, Foursquare, Gowalla.  You can do this at the library, having good tips for your library’s services.

#8: quick stuff.  Rating, liking, favoriting, digging, poking, starring.  These are very informal quick interactions that tell you how much people like or don’t like something you’re doing.  You can embed Facebook liking into your website.

Suggestions for starting out with social media. The first tip is to stop. You need some goals and strategy.  Otherwise you’ll do it for a few months and then give up, and your site will live on, inactive and not useful.  What are you going to put out there, who is going to do the work, how do you want to respond to people interacting with you?  Listen to see if people are talking about you and read what they’re saying – on Twitter, Google Alerts, Flickr tags, etc.  You want friends!  So let people friend you and friend them back.  Focus on people living in your service area. Follow your customers first, not non-local figures like, say, other librarians.  Think about your posts as conversation starters.  Ask what your users think to encourage participation.  Customers love social media, they’re already there, and they’re waiting for someone to start the conversation.  That person is you.

This session was presented by Margeaux Johnson, Nicholas Rejack, Alex Rockwell, and Paul Albert.

Margeaux started by talking about VIVO’s origins.  It is not launched completely yet, but is being used and tested at many institutions.  It helps researchers discover other researchers.  It originated at Cornell and was made open source.  It was funded by a $12.5 million grant.  It is constituted of 120+ people at dozens of public and private institutions.  VIVO harvests data from verified sources like PubMed, Human Resources databases, organizational charts, and a grant data repository.  This data is stored as RDF and then made available as webpages.  VIVO will allow researchers to map colleagues, showcase credentials and skills, connect with researchers in their areas, simplify reporting tasks, and in the future will self-create CVs and incorporate external data sources and applications. So why involve libraries and librarians?  Libraries are neutral trusted entities, technology centers, and have a tradition of service and support.  Librarians know their organizations, can establish and maintain relationships with their clients, understand their users, and are willing to collaborate.  There is a VIVO Conference here in DC in August, where you can learn a ton more.

Nick then talked about why the semantic web was chosen for this project.  The local data flow in VIVO is relatively simple.  And a cool feature allows all 7 operational VIVOs connecting with each other, somewhat similar to a federated search technology.  Because the data is authoritative, they use URIs to track data about individual people within the system.

Paul then covered how VIVO ontology is structured.  The data in VIVO is stored using Resource Description Framework.  A sample semantic representation of the system’s data was displayed, connecting people who wrote articles together.  VIVO can create inferences for you as well.  Different ways of classifying data: Dublin Core, Event ontology, FOAF, Geopolitical classifications, SKOS, BIBO.  Several very complicated charts were displayed showing how different data in VIVO is connected.  So for modeling a person, you’re going to have the person’s research, teaching, services, and expertise in their data set.  Different localizations are required by different institutions.  He described how to create localization in VIVO, but gave the caveat that this functionality will not necessarily work across institutions.  He recommends a book entitled Semantic Web for the Working Ontologist .

Nick talked about the importance of authoritative data in VIVO, of preserving the quality of the data.  There are many different kinds of data: databases, CSV, XXML, XSLT, RDF, etc.  These all go through a loading process.  Load the desired ontologies.  Upload the data into VIVO.  Map the data to the ontology.  And finally go through data sanitation to fix the mistakes and inconsistencies.

Alex concluded the session by talking about the ins and outs of VIVO.  How do you work with VIVO data?  The easiest way is to crawl the RDF.  You can also utilize SPARQL queries.  The University of Florida doesn’t have a facility to create organization charts.  What they do have is in different types of inaccessible formats.  So they hand-curated the charts, and when Alex wrote the program to handle this there were 500 and now there are over 1000 people in the program.  The design includes a data crawl, serialization, formatting, and then exports into text, graph visualization, etc.  VIVO also has a WordPress plug-in that exports data into WordPress sites and blogs.  Cornell had a Drupal site, and a module for import of ViVO data was created.  They’re working on developer APIs to expose VIVO data as XML or JSON, to install a SPARQL file, etc.  He also created an application called Report Saver which lets you enter a SPARQL query, save it, and pull out data on a regular basis for analysis.

This session was presented by Emily Wheeler and Samara Omundson.

In 2009 the digital universe grew immensely.  If you picture a stack of DVDs reaching to the moon and back, that’s how much data growth we had.  By 2020 it is estimated that the 44 times the size it was in 2009.  We are drowning in data.  How can we make sense of it?  Apply structure to large quantities of data to help make sense of it.  Information professionals can lead the way through these piles of data, even if we’re not statistics junkies or graphic designers.  We know how to sift through vast quantities of data and pull out those few salient data points.  Data conveys a clear message, cuts through the chaos, and helps to engage and inform stakeholders.

One strategy for information visualization is using topic clusters.  As an example, they searched for “Bieber Fever” with a general search engine.  They displayed results in a hierarchical format using a single PowerPoint slide.  Another visualization was a branching choice – almost a spider web of information circulating out from a central point.  Another strategy is using time series visualizations.  These can be line graphics or bar graphs of a particular data point’s change over time.  You highlight an intersection in searches using Search Associations.  You can do this in spreadsheet tools, but they used a great tool called TouchGraph to create some really nice relational graphics.

How do you handle text analysis differently?  Keyword frequency is very useful to identify repeated keywords—a simple word count provides this data point. Creating a bar graph quickly with the number of mentions of various words can show the relative importance or permeation of various words and ideas.  You can use Tagzedo to create good keyword clouds.  By adding word association to simple keyword frequency you can see relationships between words and concepts.  Using different colors, sizes, and boldness of visualization elements can communicate the relative importance quickly.  Structural data, like keyword associations, focus on word order.  This helps you drill down into the context of a given word.  They used IBM’s ManyEyes tool to create a really nice looking structural chart.  Looking at social media data, Twitter and Facebook activity and followers, can tell a really compelling story about how social interaction and popularity relate to frequency of posting, where you post, etc.  They built a few visualizations in Adobe Illustrator.  Visuals tell a story, they show patterns.  They touched on Infographics quickly.  An infographic is a visual representation of information, but most are designed to tell a visual story of pretty complex data.  You see these in large media outlets in articles and in lead stories.  It is really easy to transform data – try it out!

Tips and tricks: Know your message, stay simple, and experiment with data visualizations whenever you can.

This panel had a whopping 5 presenters in 60 minutes.  Wow!

Ran Hock: Many real-time search engines cease to exist just as quickly as they were created.  Bing Social Search is an interesting experiment with real-time search.  Google has several real-time projects in its databases.  Google wild card words lets you search for words within phrases.  You can use an asterisk as a placeholder for an unknown or variable word.  You can use multiple asterisks in one search as well.  Google does some really good stuff with automatic stemming and synonyms.  But sometimes those terms are unrelated to your goal.  To get just price as in “gary price” add a plus sign à +price (just price, no stemming).  You can also precede a word with a tilde to get more synonyms.  Google Books full text indexing of the Full View Books is great.  There is a “read on your device” link that provides a mobile-friendly version of the books.  Google Language Tools, like Search Across Languages, Translate Text, Translate a Web Page, and the Google interface in over 120 languages.  Google has calculators and controls.  Ask sometimes works.

Gary Price: Web Cite lets you take any URL, add it to the service, and it creates a permanent archive to the page. *nice!*   One of the great tools for PCs is called Website Watcher.  This lets you see any webpage on any website and tracks every single miniscule change.  Change Detection lets you track changes too (and works on Macs) but only checks once a day.  Fuse Labs is a Microsoft labs service.  Microsoft Academic provides a lot of scholarly information you can’t find elsewhere.  Not only do you get a citation, but you get links to others who are citing that paper as well. (pretty sweet)  Pinboard has been referred to as “del.icio.us on steroids.”  You can bookmark and tag things, but also have it automatically bookmark and tag anything you Tweet with a link in it.  There’s a mobile version too.  Journal TOCS comes from the UK and is a service that provides tables of contents for free, focusing on open access publications primarily right now.  Topsy is one real-time search company that is doing well – creates an archive of Tweets.  The archive goes back 3 or 4 years right now.  Three more: BASE, Issue Map, and Many Eyes (no time to describe, but go look at them!)

Marcy Phelps: Marcy discussed adding value to your search results.  Her presentation is at http://PhelpsRsearch.com/cil2011.  In an age of diminishing resources, researchers need to surface their value and think: can you be replaced?  What can we do that Google, Watson, and other search tools cannot?  Information professionals are uniquely qualified to add the kind of analysis that adds value.  We can make comparisons, look at patterns, chunk content together, prove or disprove hypotheses, and answer that bottom-line question: so what?  We have to listen to our customers.  What would be valuable to them?  Would it help to have this in a certain format?  Once we ask those questions we need to shut up and listen.  We can create research products that are helpful for others, like Issues Tracker or Know Before You Go.   Here’s how to add value.  Add a table of contents.  Add an executive summary (one page, bulleted).  Add a cover memo listing the purpose of the report, methods used, and any issues raised.  Then in 25 words or less report your findings.  Add quick article summaries to the report.  Add meaning to boring numbers – add charts and infographics.  Building a dashboard with some pretty charts – just do it in Word.  Try different views of information.  Don’t give interview by interview summaries, summarize all the answers to one question in one spot.  You can also add a matrix of data, a timeline, whatever makes sense for what you’re presenting.  Also, use specialized tools to help you do your work.  Use Google Trends, pre-formatted profiles, data mining, and fee-based sources that can get you analyzed data immediately.  Consider new formats – try PowerPoint, an in-person or phone presentation, or create a video.  Finally, create your value-added toolbox…use Word Styles, a chart gallery, templates, and with your branding.

Natasha Bergson-Michelson: Her job day and night is to teach people how to search.  She talked about simple tricks like doing filetype searches in Google.  These types of tips are awesome, but our users don’t remember them.  She says someone recommended the following to her: imagine your perfect source before you start searching.  So she started teaching this method to her students.  The first part is that if you’re using a search engine, imagine the answer and not the question.  Use the search terms and phrases that would appear in the answer.  This is the big thing…just stop to think before searching.  Use quotation marks for phrase searching as well.  You can search for dates in Google too – e.g. “1995..2010” the .. looks for every number within the range (nice!).   She gave a great tip for finding books by color – do a Google Image search for the topic or title of the books, e.g. “Rosa Parks” and then go into the lower left corner and limit by color (pink) and then voila, you get possibly relevant book covers.

Tamas Doskocz: What is semantic search?  A search, a question, or an action that produces meaningful results even when the retrieved items contain none of the query terms or the search involves no query text at all.  Semantic search is “what is possible with today’s technologies for search.”  Google recipes search is one example of an attempt at this.  Link people, algorithms, the social web, information, machine understandable and processable forms, etc.  There are a number of semantic search engines that focus on different disciplines.  These specialized engines do a better job with that type of data.  An example might be HealthMash, a system driven by consumer health knowledge bases and performs semantic searches quite successfully.

Greg Notess presented this popular session.  We are pretty much down to Google and Bing.  Yahoo is being powered by Bing.  Ask is contracting its database out to some yet unnamed company, and has been focusing on its Q&A technologies.  Cuil is gone.  Smaller search engines like Blekko, Exalead, and Gigablast are out there but nothing is at the level, size, and scope of Google and Bing.

Death of search?  We’ve seen the behavior of searchers change over the years.  Content farming is having a detrimental effect on the accuracy and clarity of search engine results.  There is a huge economic side to this (advertising).  eHow and Wikipedia don’t have bad information necessarily, but you need to be cautious.  So who qualifies as content farmers?  Allexperts, ChaCha, Answerbag, Mahalo, eHow, Encyclopedia.com, 123people, FixYa, Seed, ShopWiki, and more.  Associated Content was purchased for $100 million by Yahoo.  AOL starts up Seed and then buys the Huffington Post for $300 million.  Demand Media had an IPO that had an over $1 billion valuation.

What are the content farmers writing about?  When we start to recognize content farm materials, know that they were very quickly created by the writers…which definitely effects quality.  There is also a lot of screen-scraping happening –near duplicate content of original content on aggregator websites.

Google has had some major changes recently.  They launched Panda Update, which was an attempt to target the content farm sites.  This has changed more than 11% of the results through Google.  How well did it work?  Many domains lost ranking: ezinearticles.com, associated content, and others.  But eHow, one of the most egregious examples of a content farm, actually gained a little bit of traction in results.  Hmmm…

Google blocking is useful: choosing to block all results from a particular domain in your search results.  But do you really benefit from this?  Sites change their content completely, which could happen on some of these content farm sites.  3 or 4 years from now will you remember which sites you blocked?

The little stars that let you “favorite/bookmark” a site in search results are now gone in Google.

The big change in this last year with Google is the sidebar.  There is a list of only a few select databases (everything, images, video, etc.) but you need to click on More to see a full list, something easily missed.  One of the new databases is “Recipes” but be aware that these only show sites that have used special Google mark-up language to be included.

Google has been working hard to have better date information about their search results (when information first posted).  It’s an easy way to limit results to only recent resources.

There are some other options in the sidebar, like “Social” which requires you to be logged in and to have a Google profile set up.

Greg also showed the many additional options in the Advanced Search page.

Google calls the “sponsored results” “Ads” now.  Yay!  Clear language.

Greg talked about Google Instant as well…a technology that saves Google processor time and money, but not really a benefit for the user, says Greg.  With Google Instant on you only get 5 recommended search terms as you type in the search box, whereas without Instant you get 10.   Chrome now has in the Omni box (the URL bar) the ability to do instant search too.

Google Preview gives you the little magnifying glass next to the search result.  This is really a copy of something Bing was doing.  You can’t turn them on or off.  Most people dislike them in our session room.

Google Encrypted Search – if you are at a firewalled location, you can encrypt your searches so that your internet service provider can’t see what you’re searching.  Only Google can (muah ha ha ha ha).

What features did we lose from Google?  Search wiki, the little bookmark stars.  The top toolbar changed a bit.

Social searching that shows up in Google is a lot of different sites, but not Facebook.

With Bing, if you have Facebook Connect, you can see that information in your results. Blekko shows pages and sites that have been liked by friends on Facebook.

If you have a large Facebook network, this is useful.  If not, then not so much.

Bing still has the cached page link (though it moved).  It also allows you to share search results through Twitter, Facebook, etc.   They have scholarly searching as well that pulls in Microsoft Academic Search data.  The image search pulls in particularly different search results than Google Image Search does.

Greg recommends looking at your search engine preferences, including the ability to see what types of ads are being served up to you and why.  You can opt out of this so that you’re not profiled for ads.

Blekko is interesting – Greg suggests trying out /liberal and /conservative.  He also recommends looking at Qwiki.