By Stephen Downes
January 19, 2004

Pattern Recognition
"Google is disintermediating the library." This is one of the observations that led the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) to take a new look at the landscape and reassess its vision accordingly. The authors find three major trends in library services: moving to self-sufficiency, focus on satisfaction with online alternatives, and seamlessness. The most interesting discussion looks at "disaggregation" - the breaking down of larger works into "microcontent". But the main focus is on community, and "The ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is: How do we together, as a community of libraries and allied organizations, move our trusted circle closer to information consumers at the level of their need?" Great read. By Various Authors, OCLC, January, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

This IEEE publication has just come out with a special issue on open source. I haven't had a chance to read the articles yet, but I thought I'd pass it along. By Various Authors, January, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Camera Phones Help Buyers Beware
The CueCat - a bar code scanner magazine readers would use to get more information from advertisements - was an unmitigated disaster. This next device may be a little more successful - it is an attachment to a cell phone that reads bar codes on products in stores and returns information about the product. As curently designed - it brings up coupons and more advertising - it will be no more successful than CueCat. But if it should ever bring up genuinely useful information - such as the price, product reviews, learning - it may have a future. The idea that our phones could tell us anything we want about the products we buy is tantilizing. But it must comes from many sources, not just the vendor. By Amit Asaravala, Wired News, January 19, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Next big Thing?
Worthy of note is the list of terms used to describe the emerging technology, a list, notes the author, consisting of more hype than description. Well, sure. Ubiquitous computing is not here yet and it will be a long time before the computer fades into the background. For someone like myself, who remembers when there were no computers anywhere except in university labs, the computer will never really be invisible. By Unknown, The Economist, January 15, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Best Practices and Case Studies: Be Very Afraid
I'm not sure I would recommend the fear expressed by the author, but it's easy to forget that reference to best prctices is a form of inductive inference, and therefore, subject to the same constraints as prediction or analogy. The cases studied must be relevantly similar to your own situation. There must be enough cases to warrant drawing a conclusion. And you need to be sure of reliable data. This article sounds a reasonable note of caution. By Allen Weiss, MarketingProfs.com, January 13, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2004 Stephen Downes
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