Thursday, October 25, 2007

OCLC Social Networking Report

The OCLC report Sharing, Privacy and Trust in Our Networked World is out. It's long and tedious, but skimable and with an interesting core.* Some highlights:
  • Library directors are much more web savvy than the general public, yet much less likely to use social networking sites.
  • Almost every category of website usage has gone up, except library catalogs, which went down.
  • Few of any group think "it should be the library’s role to build social networking sites for your community." The question seems flawed—as if libraries are really going to build social networking sites—but it's still depressing.
  • There's a good half-disussion, including Sarah Houghton-Jan (Librarian in Black), Michael Sauers, Henry Bankhead (Los Gatos) and Meredith Farkas (Information wants to be free).
I suppose I'm (very) biased, but I'm puzzled how they managed to write 280 pages, with large sections on social networking, social networking in libraries and libraries' future in social networking, without mentioning LibraryThing or any of its competitors.** (I'm not arguing bias, since they could easily have mentioned our competitors and not us!)

Color me crazy, but the rapid and—in tune of the report's international focus—international spread of LibraryThing and other sites (more than 45 at last count) is a much more interesting and powerful demonstration of the potential of book-based social networking than the wan factoid "As of September 2007, MySpace reports 197 online groups with 'book club' in the title."!

More on Stephen's Lighthouse, Shifted Librarian, Lorcan Dempsey, YALSA, Resource Shelf.

In other news, OCLC released a new logo. Does anyone else see this and hear "glug glug glug"?

*One meta impression: I can't get over all the photos of pretty, well-scrubbed, orthodontically-correct and racially-balanced un-people which, to large and impersonal organizations suggests a "human touch." It makes me want to take a camera down to my local library and capture something authentic—someone tired, stressed-out, unshaven, pimply, pierced, maladjusted, unhealthy, decrepit or drunk.* It makes me want to hold up a sign that reads "I'm ugly. And I read."
**There is one glancing mention by Nicolas Morin, but unlike all the other sites I found—ReadItSwapIt!—LT didn't make the glossary.


Blogger Barbara said...

Are you really surprised? I'm not. OCLC wants to be the big catalog on the block. Unfortunately, they don't know how, but they can spend a lot of library money speculating while other people figure it out.

I haven't this report yet, but found the "perceptions" report interesting, if only because they were so shocked and amazed that people identify books with libraries. Book? Good lord, those tired old things? Gee, what a shame; I wonder if we can use this somehow....

Sorry to be a grump, but it bothers me that we have a supposed collective for libraries that is so determined to keep its information under lock and key and does really silly things like sue a hotel for using Dewey Decimal numbers on its rooms because, well, they own that trademark and they just have to control its use or who knows what terrible things could happen? It all goes against what libraries supposedly stand for.

10/25/2007 10:16 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

The libraries-are-more-than books idea is a fine one, but I also feel that libraries can ignore this, their core strength. Thi is particularly true in light of the fact that CDs and DVDs are going away. Digitization makes it increasingly unimportant for libraries to stock them. Yes, free is good. But libraries are also about simply being able to GET the things they have. Getting a book is not always easy, free or not. And I don't think that will change soon. But it's changed for CDs already, and changing for music.

As for libraries-as-internet hubs, I'm all in favor. But if libraries refuse to actually *participate* in the web (for example by having catalogs that can be seen like Google), then promoting the internet through libraries is rather like raising tiger cubs, isn't it?

10/25/2007 10:33 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

'Zackly. There was a big to-do when OCLC finally let some records loose so you could encounter a "find in a library" link - if you plowed through pages of google searches that first pointed to other things. Then they got the idea (finally!) of putting Worldcat online for free. But only libraries that pay for the not-free version have their holding represented and that's not made clear - instead of saying "your library may not be included; check with them" the site says "the nearest library with this book is" miles away.

I have no idea how you pay your bills, but it seems to me a library consortium could be little more generous or at least a little more transparent.

But I've alway been a grump about OCLC.

10/25/2007 11:41 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

>I have no idea how you pay your bills...

We have a tiny secret faucet at the back of OCLC that drips pennies.

10/25/2007 11:44 AM  
Anonymous andyl said...

Some random points.

OCLC seemingly pride themselves on being a worldwide library cooperative (on their masthead). Their survey was the general public in six countries (good) but library directors only in the US. That seems an incredibly strange choice.

Different types of libraries serve different populations and hence must have different approaches to what they do online - however being able to easily search the catalogue and discover similar books should be common to most of them.

Some of the quotes such as "The library is there to be a place to borrow books ... not for people's social life" by a British 15 year old is both heartening and disappointing in equal measures. Sure the public libraries should have books, but it also should be a place for book clubs, to get writers/artists in for talks and workshops, local book swaps, community notices and other things besides.

I think the problem may well be confusion with what "social networking" means. There certainly seemed a lack of vision with the person I quoted.

My local library has a very poor online catalogue - it is barely functional. You cannot get similar books at all - just books by the same author. However it does list new books, new events, and you can email short reviews which they may publish. However the reviews aren't linked to the catalogue; there is no way for the public to rate books in the catalogue.

I am sure there is a desire to do these things however I am sure the library professionals know how much the OPAC providers charge for custom changes. Which can make things difficult.

10/25/2007 1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This brings to mind my own frustration with the current OPACs and technology in libraries.

People want control over their privacy, and when to relinquish it for their own good. Just a couple years ago, our consortia MLN
argued amongst themselves about allowing patrons to opt in or out on building lists of materials checked out. We finally allowed each library in the consortia to decide if they wanted to "let" their patrons do it or not.

Sharing- People want the ability to share their interests with friends, family and others. We should work with vendors to open our catalogs to allow users to decide what information to share/export or not. Why can't I have a simple tool/widget to export my reading lists out of the catalog to Facebook, Librarything and so forth? Amazon does, and it is only harnessing what we buy. Many, many of our books and DVD's are gotten from the Library, not purchased.

Why have several different Social Sites competing for our attention? Why not use tools to combine information and products like Facebook? I would like to see a social site like Facebook have the tools to share my reviews and tags from LibraryThing, Amazon, and my Library OPAC without having to "re-catalog" all of my reading and viewing interests. Why can't I have links to my Library Catalog straight from Facebook like we can in LibraryThing. This type of thinking creates a real "mess", but it works with the exploding social network where people are now, and builds on it instead of trying to get people to "change their behavior" towards using another product. One source to access many different tools. Now that's cool.

So, how can we as Librarians get our vendors to open the doors on our catalogs and allow users to import/export their data more easily?


10/25/2007 10:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Public libraries have become the default ISP for those who don't have broadband to their suburban tract house.

Have you seen the new Hub Computer Center that took over the Washington Room of the BPL? As an old-fashioned library patron, I may grumble. But as a citizen, I cannot but cheer.

I have to assume that many of the people who keep this center always filled are social networking online, for some broad definition of the term. And it's the library that facilitated that, which is as it should be.

10/26/2007 11:10 AM  
Anonymous Wayne Jones said...

hi Tim, It's a bit of a quibble, perhaps, but as far as I can see the OCLC report doesn't say that use of library _catalogs_ has declined, but -- perhaps more alarming -- that use of library _websites_ has declined.

10/29/2007 12:17 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Wayne: Thanks. That's interesting. I remember seeing that, but when it came time to write the post I couldn't find the reference. Apparently I got it wrong.

With enough time I'd read the whole thing line-by-line. I think, however that the fact that *I* of all people am not doing so speaks to one of the problems. There is no study so deep and interesting that it needs almost 300 pages to describe it. They could surely have cut it down a lot, and stuck more in appendices and so forth. Good grief, I haven't read all of Dickens yet, I'm going to waste my time on this twaddle?

10/29/2007 5:10 PM  
Blogger Zaire said...

Could become another Facebook?

Since the advent of social networking sites in 1997, the phenomenon has taken the world by storm. Once called a passing fad social networking is now a thriving business, in 2006, alone it garnered over $6.5 billion in revenue, while the three biggest players, connected over 280 million subscribers in a way never known before to society. This form of connection has drawn the globe closer together than anyone ever predicted.

Just a few years ago,, solely dominated the social networking site market with almost 80% of the social networking site market but now websites like Facebook entered the social networking site race becoming the 8th most viewed website in the U.S. according to web measuring traffic site which originally started at Harvard University , later extended to Boston area schools and beyond has mystified many naysayer's with its explosive growth over the last three years and an astounding asking price of $10-$15 billion dollars for the company. But who will be next?

Who will carry the torch into the future?

With the rapid growth of the likes of MySpace and Facebook the burning question on everyone's tongue is who is next? As with any burgeoning field many newcomers will and go but only the strong and unique will survive. Already many in the field have stumbled, as indicated by their traffic rankings, including heavily funded with its former founder at the helm, and with its ridiculous Web 3.0 slogan. There are many possibilities but it is a dark horse coming fast into view and taking hold in the social networking site market at the global level that has us interested the website - Less than a year ago, this newest contender directed at 25 to 50 years olds graced the absolute bottom of the list with its website ranked at a dismal 5,000,000. With not so much as a squeak this rising star has come from the depths of anonymity growing an eye-popping 10,000% in less than one year to make itself known worldwide now sporting a recent web traffic ranking in the 5,000 range.

Understanding the Market

When people in the United States hear about Facebook and other services such as MySpace the widely held belief is that these websites are globally used and are as synonymous as Google or Yahoo in regards to having a global market presence. This idea is completely misguided. Now it is true that both of these social networking giants are geared to service the western industrialized cultures but when it comes to the markets of the future, the emerging markets, they have virtually no presence. The sites themselves are heavily Anglicized, and Facebook in particular has an extremely complicated web interface that eludes even those familiar with the language, making them virtually inaccessible in other parts of the world even where English is the main language.

Our interest in Vois is global and geopolitical. Simply, Vois understands this lack of market service and is building its provision model on a global research concept developed by Goldman Sachs a few years ago. The concept is basically predicated on the belief that beginning now using current economic models and continuing those models over the next few decades will lead to a major paradigm shift in the world regarding nations who are current economic leaders like those being the USA and the other members of the G-7 and those who will become dominant in the world economy mainly the BRICs. In the Goldman research report Goldman highlights the fastest growing nations and has dubbed them with the two acronyms BRIC's and N-11. BRIC standing for ( Brazil, R ussia, India and China) representing the fastest growing economies and N-11 or what are being called the Next-11 representing the next 11 countries to emerge as future important economies such as Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Turkey and Vietnam. This approach has already been implemented with some success with companies like Orkut, who has over 80% of the market share in Brazil and large holdings in India and Eastern Europe . Other providers such as Hi5 have the world as their focus and are making great strides in global market share while Facebook builds itself into a niche provider wholly unready to take on the world.

A Growing Presence

As Vois breaks new ground in the world market pursuing previously ignored demographics, they afford themselves the opportunity of tremendous growth unfettered by the giants such as Facebook and MySpace. While cultivating this new user base, Vois will also be able to monopolize on their business revenue strategies, creating an area of commerce that will make their site increasingly attractive to business and users the world over. This concept, dubbed sCommerce, allows the subscriber to promote themselves in both personal and a professional fashion while giving them the option of setting up shop on the site. This approach will allow business owners to target their market in a way never before allowing them to focus on interested groups of individuals while providing follow-up without having to commit to wasteful blanket campaigns that are typically the order of the day. This newfound border will allow Vois to explore new revenue models while provide a tremendous service for both their regular subscribers and business subscribers alike. With all this going on, rapid traffic growth to the site, we pose the question - is Vois the next Facebook, it sure looks like it but only time will tell….

12/05/2007 11:40 AM  

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