Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Courses - Defining the Digital Roadmap

'Defining the Digital Roadmap' was organised by the eInformation Group of Cilip (1.) - it was a day packed with the latest live issues in internet searching and related areas.

Something that came up in several sessions during the day was the impact of blogs and RSS feeds. Blogs seem to be the big issue in digital information currently. One of the new roles of many librarians is to use a blog as a way of keeping their organisation up to date with developments. So here are a few of the highlights.

New services keep on coming from GoogleLabs. Following on from Google Scholar and Google Print, context specific help with searching is now available with Google Suggest while Google Maps allows you to zoom in on any part of the world you choose, right down to street level. Some concern was expressed over security issues with Google Desktop. This allows you to search your own pc, which is excellent if you're not that good at keeping your files and folders organised, but take care that you know what it's keeping in it's cache! Especially if you are working with confidential information.

While Google may have captured the market for general internet searching there are also many specialist search engines. Ever wanted to find an American radio programme? You can find NPR (2.) programmes using Speechbot. Unfortunately this won't find BBC or other UK radio programmes. Want to find a VR model? You can sketch your search into Princeton's 3D Model Search Engine.

All of which, fascinating as it is, just adds to the information overload we all have to deal with. If you're struggling to work out where it's best to go to find the information you need, don't hesitate to contact us in the library.

The highlight of the day for me was this video - a cautionary tale of where trends towards personalisation and customisation in digital news might be taking us. It reminded me to dig out my copy of Neil Postman's classic Amusing Ourselves to Death.

(1.) Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.
(2.) National Public Radio

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