At the OCLC Symposium

At OCLC Symposium (arrived 40 minutes late. came directly from airport. traffic, etc.).

These are pretty rough notes. Overall, it was a very interesting program on the role of libraries in the long tail, with a variety of viewpoints. Wish I hadn’t been late. I tend to be kind of worried about this issue. One questioner at the end asked about why can’t public libraries have the same depth of video holdings as Netflix. I’ve never considered that as a goal. But it was a clarion call from a user.

The old truism that popularity has a lock on markets is over. Libraries can be guardians of the long tail, look at ways to provide access for our patrons, use it ourselves…so many ideas!

Chicago Hilton Grand Ballroom—very grand. Lacy gold balconies, chandeliers everywhere. Great orange OCLC tote bags swag. Scream beach bag.

Chris Anderson—Mining the Long Tail. Thin, very short military cut. I can’t help it—he seems very wired :). He is Wired’s chief editor.

Tail end of talk. Man, can he talk fast. PowerPoint slides just crammed with ideas. No way I can keep up. However, there is an excellent 4-color glossy handout, that I am hoping will be up via OCLC somehow.

“Now playing, every movie ever made.”

“Forget squeezing millions from a few megahits at the top of the charts. The future of entertainment is in the millions of niche markets at the shallow end of the bitstream.”

Exponential curves all over the place.

Where I came in, comparing the “water cooler effect” in the 50s to now.

Water cooler effect–#1 show today wouldn’t make top 10 in 1950.

Radio influence on music is over. Radio used to make the hits. Ipod = customized, personal radio station.

Presumptions of markets=wrong.

Different incentives—different hopes. Bands for fun; not to be Madonna or U2. Money is not driving incentive. Pro-ams—mix of pros and amateurs.

Less concern with Intellectual Property issues at bottom of curve—creative commons.

Economics vs. reputation or psychological incentives

“Our children will never know the meaning of “out of print”.

BookSurge—print on demand

Expansion of virtual inventory

Used books classic secondary market; how will increasing liquidity affect primary market?

GreaseMonkey plugin for Firefox—credit Jon Udell

LibraryLookup reminders via RSS/B-lines
The tragically understudied economics of abundance?

Implications of Moore’s Law –waste storage, bandwidth

Waste transistors made Apples, PCs, made computers cheep & fun

Next Speaker: John Blossom. Seems older, more mainstream corporate, a little rotund. Golf shirt.

President—Shore Communications

Intro: Content Management System at Reuters

John loves libraries. Grandma was librarian. (Apparently Chris Anderson opened his remarks saying he knows nothing about libraries? No experience?)

What makes content valuable?

Content+tech+people=Vcontent i.e., valuable content

Long tail=content that finds value in highly contextual circumstances

Libraries=long tail experts

Content—from rare to raining

Need to create useful buckets

Distribution: the new aggregation.

Points of value more evenly distributed.

“Good content is where you find it.”

The most value is in personal contacts.

Content wants to be valued.

Ratings, recommendations=applause.

Value is meeting needs where they are.

All content value is local.

. Concentrate on contextualization, not collection ownership.
. Concentrate on digital objects—the it-ness, XML, web applications
. Concentrate on higher levels of service for base content!

Moving from hierarchical control to distributed context control.

Broad view of a community’s value is key.

Develop partnerships with local online content developers.

Be source agnostic.

Maximize “findability”.

Libraries can’t out-search search engines. We need to be masters of the finite, not the infinite.

Integrate user input. Community-vetted local content.

Use usage information to drive economics.

2:55 pm 15 minute break. Water. Milky Way Midnights! Twix. Tootsie Rolls. My kind of spread.

Chuck Richard, VP and Lead Analyst, Outsell
Golf shirt, khakis, PhD.

Deep experience with libraries during PhD

Brings up Chris’ earlier analogy of filters & noise.

Long Tail messages:

“That damned, elusive Pimpernel.”

Search engines not so great—disconnect between image and reality. Popularity no longer has a lock on profitability, but it does have a lock on search engines.

Blogs are a fabulous referral system.

Chart showing that management is spending more time on gathering information than on analyzing it.

There was a bunch in here that I did not get at all basically.

At OCLC Symposium 2

I could type in my notes, but they don’t make much sense, and are interspersed with huhs. Oh well. I think his overriding point was that the signal to noise ratio is very high for our clients (his term). The library’s role is to be the Automated Long Tail Sweeper (ALTS).

Ah, finally caught the moderator’s name: Phyllis Spies. OCLC?

Next up: Nancy Davenport, CLIR president

Following Chris’ set up, goes way back with libraries J

Last couple of years, has become an Ebay habitué, trying to understand it. Started searching for a handbag of her mother’s from the 1940s. Talked about becoming a smart finder as compared to a good searcher. Using common misspellings.
Libraries are in the business of satisfying users over time. We use little bits from taxes or tuition to build collections—all about scarcity.
With monthly leases on electronic resources, the most used items become the cheapest. The least used become pricey.
Long tail ramifications for libraries:
.findability
.discards
.preservation/stewardship
.geography disappears in terms of searchability, but not for access.
.last copy status/negotiation
.impact on collection development budgets
.peer review value to academic community

Cost of electronic resource distribution is marginal—needs to be better reflected.

“Place as library.”
Need for visionary leadership.
Library skills to discipline explosion of choice.
Deep digital scholarship.

Q&A—couldn’t catch most names or affiliations—sorry!

Arthur from OCLC Middle East?
Comment on value of long tail in libraries where it is not monetized (unlike Ebay).
Chris—long tail is on a continuum between commercial and noncommercial, i.e., New York Times coexists with blogs.
John—it’s all about what value is provided to the community
Nancy—cooperation; intra-institutional collaboration—scholar’s email messages most important repositories.
John—due to new regulations, commerce must now archive.
Chris—Conde Nast deletes all email after 90 days (me–think of Edmund Wilson’s correspondence!)
John—special libraries really looking at and questioning usage

Karen Schneider, www.lii.org
Role for open access journals in long tail?
Nancy—yes, just different because missing peer review (?)
Open ownership presents questions re: preservation and maintenance

Norman from Library Journal:
Implications of Netflix—on ILL, or popular item funds
Nancy—Ill growing. ARL are net borrowers. OCLC role.
Chris—used book stores provide the long tail for Amazon
John—is the collection “right” enough (versus big enough)

Karen Kaplan (Cornell)
Implications of making more systematic ontologies of people?
Described Cornell project to use social networks to create content system
Chris—previous attempts such as Friendster didn’t work because they don’t cover work.
John—powerful colleague networks vs. Patriot Act issues
Nancy—Cornell not being source agnostic—looking for best sources
Chuck—only attempts in commerce world minor
John—source agnostic doesn’t mean not about quality.

Bob ?
Internet doesn’t preserve—esp. Federal Deposit Library Program
Nancy—no argument. Digital just present new preservation challenges
Chris—Google cache, Internet Archive. Permalink, which is why blogosphere works.
John—yeah Brewster—Internet Archive

2 thoughts on “At the OCLC Symposium

  1. The four-color reprint is nicer–graphics are in context, plus there is highlighting, more colors, dividers, etc. I guess that would have to be for some other session/conference–what the web bringeth and taketh away from content. Now to unpack!

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