Archive for the 'web 2.0' category

Authorial control

Horror author Cherie Priest has a very nice post from a couple of days ago called Control. It's basically about what mass market fiction authors do and don't have control over in the book production process. Now, the mass market fiction publishing niche is hardly the main concern on this blog, but I also think it's interesting to see what she comes up with and compare it with the list of things academic authors both do and don't have control over.

On some points it's strangely the same but mostly starkly different.

It's also worth contemplating how this list would be affected by an evolution towards a radically decentralized ebook model of publishing which would largely disintermediate traditional publishers. Another interesting way to slice and dice Priests points is to consider more precisely how digital distribution and the Napsterization of the book industry could play out.

In any case, let's see what she has to say. It's definitely worth going to her blog and reading the whole post to see her explanations of the points:

Things Authors Mostly Control

  • The words.
  • How we present ourselves to the audience.

Things Authors May Influence in Some Measure

  • The book's title.
  • Who gets review copies of books.
  • Visibility: Part One. A savvy writer can -- if he or she has enough free time and/or disposable cash -- attend conferences and conventions, manage websites regarding his/her books, and network with other authors, readers, booksellers, librarians, and reviewers. It is also up to the writer whether or not to accept interview requests and the like.
  • Visibility: Part Two. BUT. The vast bulk of the writers I know do not have the free time or disposable cash to pick up and jaunt to every convention in every city, much less send themselves on tour. Obviously authors who have reached a certain level of profitability will be invited around (expenses paid), but more often than not these things are paid for out of the author's pocket.* And keep in mind that most of us have day jobs and/or families to juggle.

Things Over Which Authors Have Virtually No Say

  • The cover.
  • The book's cost.
  • Size and format.
  • Distribution.
  • Quality control.
  • Digital availability.
  • Schedule.
  • Foreign availability.
  • Foreign availability in other same-language countries.
  • Turning the book into a movie.

Is Cherie Priest's business model about to be disrupted?

In any case, she also talks a bit about sharing and lending books at the start of the post and I really like what she has to say about the relationship between (mostly public) libraries and mass market publishing.

Libraries are very good markets for books, and we writers love them to bits. You see, if enough people line up to borrow a book, the library will purchase more copies of that book in order to reduce the wait. Therefore, the more people who want to borrow books from the library, the better. Also, libraries tend to be very supportive of writers from a promotional standpoint. They invite us to read, host our events, and often let local booksellers come in to sell copies at these events. To sum up: Libraries are good for authors.

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Joel, Mitch. Six pixels of separation: Everyone is connected. Connect your business to everyone. New York: Business Plus, 2009. 288pp.

I was chatting with a colleague during the long commute home the other day and he noticed I was reading this book. "What's it like?" he asked.

"Clay Shirky lite," I replied.

And that's about right. In Six Pixels of Separation, Mitch Joel comes to grips with the effects of social media on marketing, media, sales and promotions, he covers a lot of the same ground as in Clay Shirky's classic Here Comes Everybody (review). Glib, conversational, fast-paced bite-sized -- an easy read for sure -- Joel does a solid job of translating Shirky's more scholarly approach to a business audience.

Which is more or less the message I tried to convey to my commuting colleague above -- that Joel really doesn't cover much new ground for anybody that's more than passing familiar with the highways and byways of social media. If you even have a couple of vaguely similar books under your belt, most of the material in this one will be familiar.

But, that's not entirely the point here. While mostly not original, this book does a terrific job of bringing it all together in a readable, fun package, a package that really focused on concrete strategies and shorter-term tactics that can really make a difference in an entrepreneur's or organization's efforts to promote itself and it's message in the modern marketing context. And by organization or entrepreneur, I mean libraries and librarians too. While you have to be careful in translating strategies for the commercial world into the non-commercial, there's a lot here that's interesting and relevant.

On the down side, Joel doesn't quite manage to avoid the worst pitfalls of most business books -- relentless self-promotion, over-hyping or over-selling ideas and constant repetition of ideas in every chapter as if the author expects readers to only catch the occasional paragraph in between Tweets. Even though Joel emphasizes authenticity so much, there are a few places where he gets kind of carried away with congratulating himself and his friends for doing such a good job that he sounds a bit fake at times. These points are largely quibbles.

However, If you've read more than a couple social media books or if you follow a lot of blogs on the topic, this book might not be for you. As I said, it covers a lot of ground well and does a good job of bringing a lot of ideas together, but you might not find it original enough. For those that haven't dipped more than a toe or two into the social media world, this would be a good place to start.

As for library collections, this would fit well in any collection supporting a business or entrepreneurial community, be it an academic or public library. There's not enough technology content per se to make it that appropriate for scitech libraries, although it wouldn't be too out of place and may be interesting reading for the more IT oriented.

Joel, Mitch. Six pixels of separation: Everyone is connected. Connect your business to everyone. New York: Business Plus, 2009. 288pp.

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Ok, now that the main part of the review is done, for those that are interested I'm going to list in point form a lot of the main ideas in the book. Think of this as notes for the My Job in 10 Years book that I'm sharing with you. And apologies for the great length.

  • In terms of using social media channels for self-promotion: "if I can do this, so can you" p11
  • Online channels focus most on self-actualization. p19
  • "how you build trust in your brand, your business, and yourself is going to be an important part of how your [organization] is going to adapt and evolve"
  • Participate to build your brand. p23 Patience is a virtue when building trust. p32
  • Add value to the conversation with an authentic voice. p39, 43
  • Ask why you really want to participate in the global, social conversation, what do you want to get out of it p50
  • 5 C's of online engagement: connecting/creating/conversations/community/commerce (er, ok, not so relevant)
  • Blogging (and being involved in a blogging community or community of bloggers, commenters and readers) is a great way to connect to customers, connect customers to each other (p77, 80, 84)
  • You don't control your brand. (p93)
  • Our job as organizers of online communities can be to facililtate real-world meet-ups (ch. 6)
  • Create your personal brand, your organization's brand (the library brand), create reputation both within the profession and within your organization. Building our personal brands as professionals within the library organization also builds the brand of the library organization. (p126, 132)
  • build a brand: give abundantly, help others, build relationships. (p135)
  • Online presense needs to evolve and add more aspects, evolution favours the content creator. Offer a holistic brand experience (p163-64)
  • Build community: be sincere, be helpful, be credible (p168-72)
  • Take advantage of the wisdom of the crowds of your patrons (p190-91)
  • We are going from mass media to "me" media. (ch 10)
  • Find your niche -- what do you do best. p194
  • Embrace the digital, there's no going back. (p200)
  • Strategies to embrace the digital (p208-): centralize all your information, there are multiple sides to every story, connecting in not engaging, be responsive and fast, let people steal your ideas, go out on the fringe
  • Engagement is almost as tough to create and nurture online as trust. (p210)
  • What works? Not advertising, but content. Content is everything. (p216-218, 232)
  • Everything is mobile now, we are digital nomads. The key thing is to deliver content and engagement, targeted, to mobile devices. Think how we need to be less intrusive in mobile marketing, not more so. New device = new rules. (p236-8, 249-52)
  • The only thing that we really know about the value of digital content is that it's not the same as traditional. Can't charge the same. (p256, 259)
  • "the problem is that all new business models look weird and act weird because they are weird" (p.260)
  • Pushing out the horizons, ten trends: personal brands rise, attention crash, micro social networks, levels of connections, analytics and research, content as media, consumer generated brands, virtual worlds, web and mobile connect, openness ...will make us very private. (p264-272)
  • "Six Pixels of Separation is not about how you can connect your [organization] more efficiently in these online channels to be successful. It's too late for that. In this world of interconnectedness, the bigger question is, how are you going to spread your story, connect, and add value to your life and the people whose lives you touch" (p273)

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Say "Hi" to @SteacieLibrary

Jan 12 2010 Published by under acad lib future, faculty liaison, library web, web 2.0

Or not. You can also feel free to subscribe. Or not.

Yes, my library has entered the Twitter age. I'll probably be the main tweeter but hopefully a couple of the other reference staff here will chip (chirp?) in from time to time.

It took me a while to decide whether or not it's worth it to join Twitter. When I do IL classes, I often poll the class informally to see who uses which of the various social networking software sites. Facebook is around 90%. Twitter is around 5-10%, although somewhat more than 50% seem to have at least heard of it. So, it's a fairly small percentage of students here that I could possibly reach -- although York is a very large school so 10% is 5,000 people. And that's why it's taken me a while to decide.

The thing is, quite a few internal York organizations and people are on Twitter and I think it's probably at least as interesting to reach out and connect to them, hopefully raising Steacie's profile on campus a bit.

Twitter also provides a very lightweight way to create an RSS news feed about the library which we could reuse on our web page, for example. A Twitter presence also makes a pretty good complement to our fairly active Facebook page. The two can feed into each other, which is nice. The Fb page has taken quite a while to gain interest, at least a year, so I expect Twitter to take as long or longer to grow into a comparable community.

What do we hope to tweet about?

In terms of promotion on campus, we'll probably put some signs around the library (it worked for Facebook!), RT stuff from other York twitter accounts, announce in my IL classes and just talk about it on campus. If we can work up to a few hundred followers, that would be great.

Like I said, I'm thinking that it'll take six months to a year to see how this turns out.

If you're a scitech library out there and you're on twitter, I'd love to follow you. I'd also love to hear how the twitter thing is going for you. In general, we'll be following back anyone with a York affiliation or any libraries, librarians, scientists, engineers and scientific institutions and publishers. We'll be blocking any obvious spam accounts.

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From the Archives: An update on my Computer Science & Engineering blog

During my winter blogging break, I thought I'd repost of few of my "greatest hits" from my old blog, just so you all wouldn't miss me so much. This one is from September 24, 2007. This post follows up on my initial 2007 post which I reposted yesterday.

It's worth noting that the blog has evolved such that it's hardly about or for engineering or computer science students at all; it's more for the sessions I do for "science for non-science students" courses. Also, the use of Meebo has been a huge hit for me, really creating a new way for me to interact with students.

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Way back in September I posted about an experiment I was running with a new blog directed at Computer Science & Engineering students here at York.

I'll excerpt myself a little to remind everyone what I was hoping to accomplish:

I've created yet another blog, this one I'm aiming at Engineering & Computer Science students at my institution. I have two main ideas for this blog: first, as a place to locate my IL related links and other information. In the past I've used static web pages and was pretty happy with them. However, over time (and mostly over my sabbatical) I thought that I might want something a little easier, a little more flexible, a little more interactive and mashupable. And I saw an example of what could be accomplished at Heather Matheson's OLA presentation.

It took me a while, but I think I've got something I can live with. It uses WordPress instead of Joomla; but it also incorporates some rss feeds like my linkblog and the new book lists from my library. It has Meebo so students can touch base with me directly. Mostly I like that I've been able to move over the old IL instructional pages I did in FrontPage with relatively little fuss and bother. The classes I've used it for so far seem to like it and the reception from faculty too has been positive. It just looks cooler.

Second, as a place where I can highlight York science profs in the news and post some interesting links to engineering/CS stuff I think is neat, useful or interesting. I plan on using the WordPress pages feature to add digested versions of the full blown pathfinders we have. As well I want to create a list of all the different IL pages so anyone can find them without scrolling or searching.

So, how did it the experiment go?

Overall, I have to say that I'm very happy with the experience.

Some things that I thought went really well:

  • Easy to create & maintain. I really like the WordPress interface. It's very easy to create a blog and set up a bunch of cool widgets for RSS feeds or whatever. The array of themes is impressive (although since I am using a local implementation, I only have a few choices). The wysiwyg authoring tool is certainly good enough for what I need. For the most part, I was able to transfer the old FrontPage versions I created a few years ago into WordPress by just copying and pasting the HTML code and altering it to my current needs. I think that there's also something to be said for how cool and "with it" the blog looks compared to a simple web page.

  • The stats. Since September, the blog has received 3,087 visits and 6,851 page views. Both those numbers make me very happy. No need to go into detail, but the posts I expected to be popular were (ie. bigger classes generated more hits than smaller ones), the keywords I expected to lead people to the blog did and the ebb and flow more-or-less matched the assignment due dates for the courses I was doing sessions for. I'm still getting a handful of hits every day.

  • Meebo. I love Meebo! During busy periods, I was averaging two or three IM sessions per week, sometimes more (by session I mean either live chat or a message left by a student). I was even getting students using Meebo to ask about courses that I wasn't doing a session for. Whether they were students who had my session in one of their other classes or not, that I don't know. Either way, it's still pretty cool that they found me and I was able to help. I even ended up chatting with a couple of librarians about using Meebo.

  • Class management. And speaking of Meebo. You know how when you do a lecture-style IL session there's always a bunch of students at the back of the class using laptops, probably doing email or playing poker? You know how hard it is to involve them? As well, we all know that a class can start with good energy then peter out after a while. Well, Meebo helped with both those things, believe it or not. After a few sessions, I got into the habit of starting every IL class by firing up Meebo on the demo PC I was using and inviting the students on the laptops to surf to the blog. Well, of course a whole bunch of beeping and other weird noises resulted as Meebo notified me that people were coming to the blog and starting to chat! Windows opening, weird chat sessions exploding all over the place. Of course, this is all quite amusing to the students. It also gets their undivided attention right at the beginning of the session and also lets them see what the Meebo widget is all about. I'd have to say that this little opening stunt got me at least 20 minutes of really good attention and energy in the class. I usually asked the students if they wanted me to leave Meebo open so they could ask questions during my demo but they always declined because they thought it would be too distracting.

  • Findability. One cool thing -- if you Google the course number for the majority of the sessions I did, my blog posting comes within the first few results. For many of them, it's number one, even before the course web page. A little disconcerting for the profs, I think, but great for the students -- and the profile of the library. In the sessions I would just say, "Hey, don't worry about remembering the url or the page or anything, just Google your course number!" Even a day after first publishing the post it would appear at or near the top of the rankings.

  • Profs Liked it. It looks cool, has all the main resources, is in a format that students can relate to, what's not to like? Just today I had a Prof remark to me that based on my blog he's considering using WordPress for his own course management needs.

Some things I'm still figuring out:

  • Branding. Although the blog is branded for CSE, in the end most of the classes I used it for were Natural Science, STS or other courses. So, I think I need to re-brand the blog, starting with a new name. Initially, my idea was to create a separate blog for the non-CSE areas but that's probably needless duplication. I think I'll end up with a name something like "York University Science Library Blog: Featuring Engineering, Computer Science, Natural Science and STS." Yes, we have other science library blogs for other areas.

  • Clutter. The design is still a bit busy for my liking. I probably need to pare it down a bit, maybe take out a few of the widgets. Way back when, Jane suggested embedding slides in the posts rather than just recording my notes/links as part of the post itself. That idea probably has a lot of merit and I may give it a try next year.

  • Informational Posts. By these I mean newsy posts about York or various profs. I didn't do as many of these as I hoped and I'm still not sure how useful they are. On the other hand, it's been really handy for demonstrating how blogs can be used to institutional outreach. The jury is out on these posts. I'll probably do a few more during the spring and early summer but I'll re-evaluate in the fall.

  • Sidebar content. Not sure how used or useful it was. I like that it gives students a reason to come back to the blog after the course is over but on the other hand it may just add clutter and distraction.

  • Resource Pages. I never did get around to creating mini-pathfinders for the various subject areas on some of the WordPress pages. We'll see how my thinking on that evolves over the summer.

If any of you out there on the Internet have any suggestions, feel free to jump in. If you're a prof or student, especially if you were involved in one of my sessions, I'd also really like to hear what you have to say.

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From the Archives: Check out my new blog for York Computer Science & Engineering students

During my winter blogging break, I thought I'd repost of few of my "greatest hits" from my old blog, just so you all wouldn't miss me so much. This one is from September 24, 2007. It's my initial thoughts about the blog I've been using to post my IL session notes.

It's worth noting that the blog has evolved such that it's hardly about or for engineering or computer science students at all; it's more for the sessions I do for "science for non-science students" courses. Also, the use of Meebo has been a huge hit for me, really creating a new way for me to interact with students.

I'll be re-posting my 2008 follow up post tomorrow.

=====

This post is aimed a little more at the Engineering & CS profs and students out there; I'm interested in what you might think about this project.

I've created yet another blog, this one I'm aiming at Engineering & Computer Science students at my institution. I have two main ideas for this blog: first, as a place to locate my IL related links and other information. In the past I've used static web pages and was pretty happy with them. However, over time (and mostly over my sabbatical) I thought that I might want something a little easier, a little more flexible, a little more interactive and mashupable. And I saw an example of what could be accomplished at Heather Matheson's OLA presentation.

It took me a while, but I think I've got something I can live with. It uses WordPress instead of Joomla; but it also incorporates some rss feeds like my linkblog and the new book lists from my library. It has Meebo so students can touch base with me directly. Mostly I like that I've been able to move over the old IL instructional pages I did in FrontPage with relatively little fuss and bother. The classes I've used it for so far seem to like it and the reception from faculty too has been positive. It just looks cooler.

Second, as a place where I can highlight York science profs in the news and post some interesting links to engineering/CS stuff I think is neat, useful or interesting. I plan on using the WordPress pages feature to add digested versions of the full blown pathfinders we have. As well I want to create a list of all the different IL pages so anyone can find them without scrolling or searching.

I've also used the blog for some non-Engineering/CS classes, explaining that the current blog is just a prototype for future blogs in other areas. For example, I do a lot of Science & Technology Studies and Natural Science (NatSci are breadth courses for non-science students) courses and the posts don't really belong on the CSE blog. I would like to eventually create one for Nats/STS but I don't want to commit to it until I have a better idea of how successful the idea is. If you were a non-CSE student, would you be ok with your courses web page being hosted on a CSE blog?

I'm also particularly interested in what other librarians out there have done with IL or subject-focused blogs, how you've done things differently or the same. If you've preferred WordPress or Blogger or if you think that a more sophisticated CMS like Moodle or Joomla is the way to go. As usual, either drop a comment here, Meebo or email at jdupuis at yorku dot ca. Feedback, suggestions, ideas, pros, cons are all more than welcome; the blog is plainly a work in progress and I full expect it to evolve some more in the coming months.

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Librarians and social media engagement

Or, Twitter & blogs as ways of knowing, Part 2.

A month or so ago, I poked a little gentle fun at social media extremists, basically exploring the idea that engaging online is the be-all and end-all of the library profession versus the idea that much of what we do online is peripheral to the main thrust of what librarianship is all about. To a certain degree, I guess I was setting up a couple of straw people just for the purpose of knocking them down but at the time it seemed like contrasting those extremes was a useful way of looking at the issue.

Of course, I don't believe either extreme is the correct path, but rather somewhere in the middle. Curiously, I didn't actually state what I thought the correct path for online social media engagement might be.

My core assumption is that for academic librarians, professional development is a key part of our jobs. We must keep up with what is happening in the broader library world, the worlds of our patrons and the the world as a whole. Keeping up includes current events, disciplinary trends, applications of new technologies and social trends, particularly as they effect higher education and the lives of the mostly young people who are in our student cohort.

So without further ado, John Dupuis' Laws of Librarian Social Media Engagement.

  • Engaging professional communities through online social media is a good thing
  • Not everybody has to be present on every platform
  • Pick one or two that make sense for you
  • Stick with the one(s) that make sense and contribute to the community
  • Engage beyond the library community

In other words, if it was up to me, I think it's a good idea for people to be engaged online in at least one place: through blogging or on Twitter, Friendfeed, Facebook, Nature Network, LinkedIn, 2collab, Mendeley or whatever. Pick one and get involved; amongst all of us we can cover them all increasing our presence online as a profession, sharing our perspective and bringing outside perspectives back to librarianship.

And I think that's an important point. Part of engaging is getting beyond the library world into the worlds of those we hope to serve with our collections and services. It can mean crossing over into science communities or technology or marketing or history or fine arts or higher education administration or whatever.

Some good examples of that would be the presence of a couple of librarians here on ScienceBlogs, over at Nature Network (Frank Norman is an excellent example of a librarian who engages scientists at Nature Network) or the rather harmonious co-existence of librarians and science people on Friendfeed. And I'm sure there are others that i don't know about.

Personally, I'm an active blogger (obviously) but I'm also active on Friendfeed and Twitter. I used to be more active on Nature Network and LinkedIn, but there are only so many hours in the day.

Now, do I really think every librarian will join a social network for professional development purposes? Of course not. You're never going to get everyone to do any one thing. And for what it's worth, Twitter, et al. just aren't for everyone.

What I do think is that everyone owes it to themselves and to their profession to at least give it a try. And yes, this statement would apply beyond librarianship to any profession.

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Top 5 Must-Read Social Media Books

Sort of related to my ongoing series of Best Science Books 2009 lists, here's a nice list of the top 5 social media books I found on Mashable, via Tara Hunt. They're all 2009 books, after all.

The list is from Steve Cunningham who interestingly frames the five books in terms of the lessons we should take away from them.

Four of the books look pretty good, the kinds of books that have lot to say about how libraries could engage patrons in social media spaces. I have both the Mitch Joel and Tara Hunt books kicking around the house and look forward to reading them and will probably get both the Brogan and Weinberg eventually. And reviewing them all here, of course.

As for Crush It!, well, I tend to favour a bit more of a work/life balance than that book seems to advocate.

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Q&A with NRC-CISTI about their new public-private partnership with Infotrieve

As I mentioned in my previous post, I did a little Q&A about the new outsourcing arrangement that CISTI has negotiated with Infotrieve.

Q1. What's the effect on jobs at CISTI from this move?

As you may know, NRC-CISTI is transforming itself to be well positioned to serve the needs of Canadian knowledge workers now and in the future. This transformation is a major undertaking for the organization and will require a significant transition for NRC-CISTI's workforce.

NRC is working to mitigate the effect on employees by seeking to place as many of the affected employees as possible within the new NRC-CISTI or elsewhere within the NRC or the federal government. The NRC is working closely with its bargaining agents throughout the process of transformation to ensure that employees are supported to the fullest extent possible.

Q2. What will happen with CISTI's physical collections? Are they staying in Canada?

The holdings of the NRC-CISTI will remain the property of the National Research Council. NRC-CISTI is home to the National Science Library Collection, with more than 50,000 serial titles, 800,000 books and conference proceedings and over 2 million technical reports and indexed journals.

Q3. What's the focus for CISTI in the future? Data curation, research support? Does CISTI have library & institutional partners for these activities?

This transformation will focus NRC-CISTI's activities on high-value information and services that advance research and innovation in the areas of science, technology and health. This will include new models for delivering services which may include partners for these activities, but the overall transformation will take time to implement and it is still too soon to speculate about future partners.

Q4. Where do you see CISTI in 5-10 years?

NRC-CISTI will continue to be Canada's national science library. Our mission continues to be to contribute to an innovative, knowledge-based economy by providing high-value information and services in STM. And, our core value of delivering quality STM information services remains unchanged.

As Canada's national science library, CISTI will continue to provide information discovery and access services to Canadians and researchers from around the world. And as the NRC library, will continue to offer licensed access to information content and in-depth information services to the NRC.

We will also be continuing with our national strategic initiatives, which are a part of our national science library, including building access vehicles to showcase Canada's scientific output, for example:

  • NPArC - also known as the NRC publications archive
    CISTI has built a searchable web-based gateway to NRC-authored publications that will increase access to NRC's research output, and serve as a valuable resource for NRC researchers, collaborators and the public.

    NRC researchers author about 3,700 peer-reviewed publications each year (articles, proceedings, books, book chapters) as well as technical reports. NRC has mandated that these NRC-authored publications be deposited on NPArC. NPArC is increasing the visibility and impact of NRC research and helping researchers collaborate and innovate. NPArC uses the CISTI digital repository as its technology platform. Publications are ingested, stored, indexed, preserved and made accessible from this platform.

    CISTI will also continue to partner with other organizations to fulfill its core role as part of Canada's national innovation infrastructure:

  • Research Data Canada

    This is a national initiative addressing issues surrounding the access and preservation of data arising from Canadian research and NRC-CISTI is playing a coordination role and has launched a gateway web site that provides access to Canadian scientific data sets and other important data repositories to support this initiative

  • PubMed Central Canada or PMC Canada

    A national digital repository of peer-reviewed health science research that will provide free and open access to CIHR-funded research. CIHR has passed an Open Access mandate requiring scientists to make research funded by CIHR freely available.

    NRC-CISTI, CIHR and the US National Library of Medicine (NLM) have completed the first step in the creation of PMC Canada - a three-way agreement to partner on creating the e-repository. CIHR is funding and CISTI is providing the technology platform and tools.

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IT Professional on Ontologies, OWL, and the Semantic Web

The IEEE Computer Society's magazine IT Professional has a special issue on Ontologies, OWL, and the Semantic Web (v11i5). There's lots of very cool-looking stuff, mostly pretty basic.

A couple of other non-semantic web articles that look worth checking out:

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Students: Give your CV a digital makeover

Oct 01 2009 Published by under academia, blogging, librarianship, social media, web 2.0

In a reputation economy, social media can provide a powerful set of tools for establishing and enhancing your reputation. An enhanced reputation can lead to enhanced opportunities, in the form of job offers or other professional opportunity.

Academia is a reputation economy, of course, but really any knowledge economy/creative class job is going to be easier to get if you have a good reputation. Which brings us back to social media.

It seems to me that in a competitive job market, students can really make their own applications stand out if they can refer potential employers to a really solid, professional online presense. That presense can include standard CV-type material but it's also going to include a lot more -- the record of that person's online professional interactions. And that's hopefully going to give the student a leg up.

Now, let's take a look at Service aims to build professionals: WhyHire.me helps students grow an online presence and personal brand, an article I saw about a month ago in one of Toronto's free daily newspaper.

Select students at three post-secondary schools will soon have an extra digital component to their studies -- they'll learn how to build a professional online presence by melding their education, work and life experiences with social media.

This fall, Algonquin College and Carleton University in Ottawa and Toronto's Centennial College are incorporating WhyHire.me as part of the curriculum in certain business classes.

Those two schools are actually going to use a particular service to help their students establish a positive online reputation.

Part of that entails taking the traditional resumé and giving it a digital makeover. WhyHire.me allows users to integrate blogs, photos, videos, news feeds and Twitter along with their online resumés on one interface.

As an instructor at Algonquin, Patti Church said she saw there was a need to help students branch out beyond crafting portfolios and resumés. Part of that included adding technology.

"I was in a first-year marketing class teaching them about positioning products and services, and then basically looked at them and said: 'You know, you have an opportunity to position yourself strategically over the next three years or you can sit back passively and assume the paper's going to do the work for you,'" she said in an interview with Andy during a recent Toronto visit.

*snip*

Recent graduate Sarah Ormon was among the students involved in the pilot, and admits to some initial resistance. A job interview last winter where she was asked what she knew about blogging and Twitter helped lead to a change of heart.

"Up until that point it had kind of been a hypothetical," said the 28-year-old. "That's when the little green light went off in my head like, 'I better get on this.'"

Amazing! To me this seems like the thing that career centres should be getting into in a big way -- helping students showcase the best of themselves in a modern, technologically rich, social media saturated context. This certainly the kind of thing I tell library school students when they ask me for career advice: get yourself out there, get yourself know. It's never too early to start.

Some of my other related thoughts on this topic:

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