The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Making IM Even More Useful

IM in the Corporate World

"Today, IBM's IM users average about 3 million messages per day, up from 2.5 million messages per day in 2002. The company has also seen a 4 percent reduction in telephone use, and a reduction in the load on its e-mail servers.

IBM employees communicate primarily with each other, but can also communicate with certain applications. For example, Reuss-Caton says there are several apps, including a dictionary and the corporate directory, to which users can send IM queries and receive responses. For example, if Reuss-Caton queries the database with an employee name, it would return all the employee's details, including presence awareness information telling her whether that individual is online." [Smart Mobs]

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Now Just Imagine if that Information Was Coming from Authoritative Library Resources

Student Blog Observations (emphasis  below is mine)

"On another note, the research via RSS experiment is working pretty well. Claire, who is doing a story on what effects the legalization of gay marriage might have on school sex ed curricula, is getting some great stories fed right to her from Google News. Others are reporting the same. It appears to make a difference when the research comes to you as opposed to having to find it. I'm thinking this will be a standard feature of my journalism student Weblogs from this point on. Now if I could just get some teachers interested in this feature..." [Weblogg-ed News]

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The Wireless Dilemma Isn't Really a Dilemma

Schlotzsky's Latest Numbers

"Schlotzsky's reports 40 percent of customers consider Wi-Fi and Web browsing as factor in visiting: As the chain has expanded to 38 company-owned and franchise stores mostly in the South that offer in-store free computer access and Wi-Fi, their latest market research shows a significant uptick in awareness.

The company reported that 40 percent of customers surveyed considered Wi-Fi and computer access a factor in their decision to come to Schlotzsky's, while 6 percent said Wi-Fi access alone was why they were there....

But the CEO wasn't a geek; he liked seeing entire families or sports teams or groups of parents and kids come in and spent time using the high-speed connection. It's important to recall that a small but significant minority of Internet users have broadband; for the rest, Schlotzsky's offering is a profound (and free) pleasure.... [Wi-Fi Networking News]

This screams libraries to me! We already provide the high-speed access and the computers, so why is it so difficult for library directors to understand the benefit of adding wireless to the mix?

Maybe we just need the financial and marketing resources to do these kinds of surveys and promotions, but then it's a chicken and egg scenario, isn't it? It doesn't really matter if wireless users are the chicken or the egg, because they should be library users.

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Find Wi-Fi in Google's Labs

Google Tests Aggregating Hotspot Directories

"Google Lab's new Search by Location service lets you aggregate results for hotspots: This is nifty idea which aggregates the address information that Google is parsing from its results (any time it sees anything that looks like an address) and tying it to keywords.

It's particularly useful for Wi-Fi aggregation, because you're finding locations that not only my business partner JiWire lists or libraries that Bill Drew has assembled, but you're seeing even individual locations like coffeeshops that mention they have Wi-Fi, community wireless pages, and other randomly related content.

I've pumped in my office Zip code in the link above, but try other combinations.

Note that JiWire's listings are prominent because of how they structured their site. As a group of former'ers, they know that if you expose URLs that are permanent and look like "good" URLs (not full of argument junk after a question mark) then search engines will well index their hierarchy. This is hardly a secret, but many sites still haven't discovered it. [link via Jim Thompson, Doc Searls]" [Wi-Fi Networking News]

Very nice! Another reason for libraries to make sure they PROMOTE wireless service when they offer it!

Also, note Glenn's last paragraph, because it's actually quite relevant to libraries. Jon Udell never would have been able to run with LibraryLookup if the OPAC vendors hadn't constructed their URLs in such a way as to expose them as "good." Those libraries whose ILS vendors DON'T support these types of services need to push them to do so.

The web is interactive and integrated, and the last thing we need is for libraries to exclude themselves by letting the vendors build walls around us. If you're in that type of situation, tell them to tear the walls down. Now.

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Yahoo Becomes an RSS Directory!

Gary "How-Does-He-Find-the-Time-to-Maintain-ResourceShelf?" Price kept me busy on IM this morning showing me all kinds of wonderful Yahoo things. The first, of course, is the big news that Yahoo no longer uses Google as its search engine. While this would be big in-and-of-itself, the content of the new search results are what's so intriguing to me.

Gary suggested I do a search for "shifted librarian," and sure enough my site came up as the first hit. But look what's in the result:

Yahoo results that show add to myyahoo link

So Yahoo has connected its beta news aggregator to its search engine and the database behind it and then some. In the immortal words of Neo, "Whoa!"

Now go to Yahoo and do a search for CNN or the Chicago Tribune or most other BigPub sources. Notice that there's no link to "Add to My Yahoo." How long do you suppose it will be until they notice this?

Now do a search for ABC News. They have a bunch of RSS feeds, but they don't come up in Yahoo's results. I did a searcj for Suburban Library System and we come up first, but they don't show our feed, either. It will be interesting to see how well Yahoo can keep up as an RSS directory. It's a shame Yahoo can't partner with Syndic8 for this since they're already doing such a great job of it.

Do Atom feeds show up and can they be added to My Yahoo, or is this functionality Google is missing the boat on by restricting Blogger blogs to Atom and not offering a parallel RSS feed?

In addition, Gary notes Yahoo's SmartSort personal shopping assistant. Give it a whirl if you haven't, because the sliders on it let you pick which options are important to help limit search results. It's incredibly slick, and the results change in real-time as you move the sliders. Not only do the results change, but the descriptions of the products themselves change depending on what you changed with the sliders.

As Gary noted to me, something like this could be quite valuable in library search results. For example, the user could move the slider to indicate that books are important or full-text articles or images and on and on. When I saw this, I immediately thought how useful this would be for reader's advisory! Example: what is important to you about mysteries - location? type? protagonist? etc.

Oh to be a programmer with the time to create these kinds of resources!

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