Research/ Learning

The pursuit of users

Lorcan 1 min read

Scholarly Information Strategies are well known consultants. They make some presentations available on their website. There is some repetition, but that is not, after all, uncommon 😉
They explore changing patterns of scholarly publishing and communication in a network world. The themes will be familiar, but it is interesting seeing the different perspectives when talking to a publishing audience.
Chris Beckett’s latest – The New World Order in Collection Development: The Commercial Perspective [pdf] – is a good place to look for an overview of concerns. He has some slides showing the systems framework through which library resources are typically being made available (13, 20) and showing how the publisher sees their web users (21, 22). He has a suggestive slide on the dynamics of social software (68). What caught my eye was his ‘what it means for publisher’ slide, coming after a familiar round-up of Web 2.0 stuff:

  • Your site will become increasingly invisible to readers
  • You need to optimise your content for the search interfaces that users use including the library world
  • But more importantly you need to optimise it for the research world:
    • Your content will continue to be important as long as you expose it to those social software tools and enable user generated content and sharing e.g. Mashups
    • But this will require better and more flexible business models that can provide realtime access to your metadata and primary data

So, publishers should be interested in optimizing presentation for resolvers and metasearch, but this may be less important in the medium term than optimizing for the ways in which researchers use network information. Social bookmarking sites and search engines become important in this context, as does opening up APIs to allow materials to be remixed with other applications. This seems somewhat ahead of practice at the moment, but it is interesting to see it laid out as advice in this way.

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