Monday, 30 July 2007

Biblioblogosphere survey

Meridith Farkas of Information Wants To Be Free, and Social Software in Libraries, is conducting another survey of the biblioblogosphere (the results from the 2005 survey are here), which you can participate in here. I think the results will give interesting insight into the biblioblogosphere and the way that it has been changing and growing. It'll be nice to have a bit more of a presence from UK and legal library bloggers as well - I think we've grown a lot in the last year, and it would be good to see how much.

Go forth and participate!

Saturday, 28 July 2007

My Telegraph: the RSS gateway drug

The Telegraph has a service (is it new? I'm not sure. I haven't noticed it before, and it still seems a little unfinished, so I'm thinking it can't be that old), where you can subscribe to a limited selection of news articles. They have created a few broad categories (sport, news, opinion, business, and so on) and have selected a number of resources that you can feed into an RSS stream. And, somewhat shockingly, they aren't just recommended Telegraph columns, but things from all over the internet, including columns from their competitors (they offer feeds from the Times and the Guardian).

Now it is very limited (you can't add in any other feeds, but can only select from what they have made available). And it is a little clunky (it's all ajax, which I don't really like as a functional platform - it's too prone to slowness). But I quite like it nonetheless.

It feels to me like the gateway drug of RSS - not quite as hardcore as setting yourself up with feeds and a feedreader, but you can have a small selection of things to read. It's the sort of thing you might suggest to your not-terribly-net-savvy parents, or to someone with limited English. You would move on from there to a real RSS reader - probably GoogleReader, as the format is somewhat similar. It's enough to get you hooked on the crack that is RSS, but not so daunting as having to go out and actually track feeds down yourself. And I really like the fact that they're not limiting themselves to Telegraph resources, but are expanding their options to other sources. I think it's worth checking out.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

A break and changes to come

On the 10th, Hypatia and I are off to brave the wilds of southern France. It's a well earned and needed break and we're both looking forward to it immensely.

When we come back, we've got a few plans that we want to put into action, including a new look and feel, and moving over to our own domain name. And of course, lots more posts!

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Intranets and ideal worlds

I was asked the question today - in an ideal world, what would you put on an intranet. So I sat down and had a brainstorming session.

Straight off the top of my head the first things that came to mind were blogs. They're quick and easy to use, and are the perfect tool for getting updates out quickly. Plus you then have an archive of the updates. Currently, if you miss an update in the 'What's New' section, that's it, you can't see it again.

Other things were things were no brainers like having a separate page for individual practice areas or departments, and topic pages that bring together a wide variety of material on a single topic.

Something I'd really like to implement is the use of wikis. Initially, this would be a trainee specific one. It would be nice if trainees could contribute to a wiki on their current seat as a way of creating a knowledge repository that can then be used by the next trainee in the seat.

And in my idea world, the intranet would function a bit like a portal and a bit like Pageflakes. I don't actually use pageflakes currently but I do like the concept and see how you could transfer the concept to a firms intranet. Being able to specify what you want to see when you open the intranet ensures that you're getting the most relevant information straight away and I think that could really appeal to lawyers.

There are so many other things I thought of, just sitting thinking for 10 minutes. And they're all technologically possible, the problem is getting the ideas to become reality. But in my ideal world, all these things would be standard.

In an ideal world, what would YOU put on your intranet?

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Fluther, and the collective knowledge of crowds

Fluther and are two new startups that are attempting to tap into the collective wisdom of crowds, asking the user base of the site to answer questions posed to the group.

Fluther is quite cute (it's squid themed - how can you not like it?) and nicely designed (though I would rather the 'ask a question' box wasn't quite so prominent, as it means I can barely see the questions posed on the front page). The questions asked here seem mostly serious - the sort of things you would ask, as the website puts it, if you had 'five Uncle Franks to answer your car questions, eight Aunt Marthas to ask about astronomy and six Grandma Gerties to advise you on your garden dilemmas'. I would argue that this shares a lot of the same mental space as MetaFilter - most of the questions are things that you would see posed there, which arguably begs the question of why you wouldn't just post to metafilter, with a much larger userbase? (as seen at Here we are. What now?) is a slightly different take on a question and answer site, requiring that questions be phrased as yes/no in an attempt to generate discussion. I can see this one being a little more popular, though a lot less useful. It's very compelling to click on the little ajax-y buttons to answer questions, but far too much effort to click through and actually comment on something. I do wish the ratio of responses was shown on the front page though - I want to be able to see how the votes are swinging at a glance without having to click through. The questions on here are mostly vapid ('Are you sitting in a swivel chair now?') and I admit that I don't really see the point - I can't help but think that it's another site that's attempting to be a social hub, when people are pretty much social-site-d out at the moment.

I do, however, think it's interesting that there are so many places on the internet where people go to get their questions answered. It seems like the sort of service that public libraries would want to be providing - indeed I'm sure there are one's around that do, I admit that my knowlege of the progressive services that public libraries offer is limited. I think it'd be great though - a site where library users can pose a question to the librarians and users of their local library and have it answered in this sort of way - combining the resources of the library with the wisdom of the crowd, and creating a community feeling at the same time. Does anything like that exist at the moment, or am I being a bit optimistic?