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Brian Nielsen gave a nice presentation about the use of RefWorks at Northwestern at the CNI Taskforce meeting in Portland just passed. He spoke about interaction between Refworks and their learning management system. There was a good discussion afterwards. Some of the focus was on moving data between systems, and on the integration of functionality in user spaces. Eric Celeste described how U Minnesota users could post OpenURLs in their Uthink blogs.
The growing use of such tools, the interest in reading lists, the emphasis on linking, and thinking about effective incorporation in the learnflow of users are all examples of what I was calling intrastructure services.
After I posted the intrastructure piece, Dan Chudnov sent me a link to a piece that he and Jeremy Frumkin have written about how to support such use better. They have a good summarizing statement:
We believe a new type of information resource optimization is now needed to help fix this problem. It’s no longer sufficient to work only to improve human interfaces for usability and wayfinding, and to improve automated interfaces for harvesting and scalability. We now also need to design our services to accomodate the needs of both users and systems to move freely between human and automated interfaces. We need to remember that the information services we provide and manage only make up a small fraction of the many information communities in which our users participate. We need to accept that users might enter any resource from a variety of directions: from search engines, from their friends’ weblogs, from course pages, from sharing networks, from highly polished online exhibits, or from hand-coded web pages. And we need to recognize that once users arrive at a resource we provide (however they got there), they might want to take some or all of that resource with them over into another of those environments, or have their computers (or ours) send it around to one or several other places for them. And that they really only want to do all of that with only one or two clicks. [Service Autodiscovery for Rapid Information Movement]
[Note: while I am on this topic, the Making links blog is a nice place to follow some developments in this space.]