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Sharing Knowledge on the Web
Developments unveiled at the Online Information exhibition in London
William Pollard (will789)     Print Article 
Published 2006-12-05 14:59 (KST)   
MPS Technologies in India are close to launching BookStore, a digital warehouse to make book content available online for search and purchase. Some of the functionality is comparable with the features of Google Books. However, the Google project has resulted in some adverse comments from publishers worried about copyright issues and losing a direct contact with the reading public.

At Online Information, an exhibition and conference held at the Olympia Grand Hall in London, it was announced that two sites would be launched in the first quarter of 2007, for Macmillan New Writing and the Borsenverein, the publishers and bookseller's association in Germany. It is only recently that online methods of publication have been accepted as comparable to books and printed news media. The monthly magazine Information World Review gave the same emphasis to promoting their blog as to distributing samples of the paper version.

©2006 Courtesy of MPS Technologies
Although Google did not have a stand at the exhibition, Jadu showed a content management system built around the Google Search Appliance. Two years ago, there was some protest when they won an award. The business model of free search funded by advertising competes with some of the services promoted at the show.

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The proposal to scan papers for Google Books started without much consultation with publishers. Google Scholar is a specialized search engine that includes sources such as early drafts of papers available at conferences or working papers hosted at universities. Although many journals are now offering open access to papers after a period of time when they are exclusive to subscribers only, the effect of Google Scholar is to widen the availability of free content.

One aspect of Google that publishers like is the support for backlist titles. Titles can be found that would otherwise be out of print. With digital printing, there can be short runs for print or digital editions sold online. Publishers are now aware of what is possible and are looking for ways to adjust their approach.

Richard Charkin, CEO of Macmillan said, "BookStore and other similar enterprises show publishers that they can protect their author's copyright while embracing the opportunities of the digital revolution."

The intention is that BookStore "will be crawled by major search engines, making the full text of publishers' content highly visible online, often for the first time." The difference with Google Books is that the publisher has full control over how much text is displayed and how it can be paid for.

BookStore is hosted in New Jersey and the software is developed in India. There are offices in Boston and London and there is already much interest from publishers.

Microsoft attended Online Information and promoted their Windows Live Academic Search, which has a more clearly defined scope than Google Scholar, and is developed through working closely with journal publishers. They are waiting on information supplied and concentrating on specific subjects. They have started with computer science, electrical engineering and physics

A strong area of content at Online Information was in the area of science, medicine and technology. This is the scope of Scopus, an online search engine from Elsevier. This is only available to institutions with a license. Research for a paper at Biomedical Digital Libraries suggests there are some benefits in both Google Scholar and Scopus, together with the longer established Web of Science. Windows Live Academic Search is too recent for comparison figures to be available. The paper mentions that there is no public information on all the sources used by Google Scholar, though it is believed that they do not have an agreement with Elsevier.

Google Scholar is now widely accepted. Writing in Information Today on developments in 2006, Jill O'Neill from the National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services (NFAIS) wrote that current students are so used to Web search that university libraries need to adjust to meet expectations: "Publishers quietly reached agreements with Google Scholar because, if content wasn't indexed in a Google environment, this student wouldn't bother to look elsewhere."

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Elsevier sponsored some Web access at an Internet cafe to promote "Let's Talk Books," mostly about science e-books to be launched next year. Mark Dalton told a seminar on e-books that Elsevier would have about 80 percent of their book catalogue available as e-books within five years, compared to under 5 percent currently. He suggested this is "in line with what other publishers are doing." Elsevier have been at previous shows around "online information" but this is the strongest endorsement yet for digital compared to paper.

The panel on e-books did mention possible developments in e-paper but there was no detail on this and no display on the stands of any mobile devices with refreshing screens. Unfortunately, a confusion at Newswireless.net prevented a connection with research on mobility and screen displays. There may be online discussion, however, and improved communication on a future occasion.

Highwire Press from Stanford announced the 1000th journal to join their online service, the Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society. The next milestone is likely to be one and a half million articles with free access. There is often a delay between publication through journals and free availability on the Web, but this makes a major contribution toward open access.

The British Library continued to promote their service for digital delivery of articles from journals. They usually scan from hard copy on request so there is no risk of a move to digital unless publishers decide on it. During 2006, Google Scholar has added a link to the British Library whenever a journal article is available for a charge. This is a welcome service for people unable to reach an academic library or for those journals not widely subscribed to.

In July, Cambridge University Press started to offer an Open Option on some journals. Selected articles may be made freely available online for a charge of $2,700. Articles may also be hosted on institutional repositories and through author hosting. The version as submitted may be available on publication but the full typographic effect of the PDF has to be delayed for 12 months. From November, Oxford Journals has agreed with the National Library of Medicine to make open access content available through PubMed Central. This removes the need for authors to self-archive and improves visibility for search. There have been almost 2,000 open access articles in 2006 so far.

Open source is now better supported in the mainstream computer industry and this was reflected in the Information Management Solutions section at the back of the hall. Sqiz demonstrated the MySource Matrix Content Management System and explained the benefits of open source. Jeffrey Walker from Atlassian Software Systems spoke in favor of "lightweight software" that is cheap and easy to use. This may include open source but there is a cost for support. He argued that one reason for the growth of wikis is that "knowledge management" and "content management" systems are too complicated and do not facilitate collaboration. XML was firmly established as a standard. Exegenix offered a service to convert content to XML, still showing a Seybold Hot Pick logo. Seybold events came to an end last year as San Francisco attention turned to the Web but it was good to see at least one Seybold Hot Pick at the event.

EMC Documentum is often seen as one of the suppliers for organizations with a large budget. The applications they support are suitably impressive. Wolters Kluwer Health launched an updated version of PubFusion based on Documentum, a content management for publishers including version control and Web access. There has been a saving of about $2 million in the first year. The system supports many document formats including PDF for proofing. The creation of production PDFs for printing means they can be outsourced to pre-press suppliers. So this is effectively an approach to print management. There is some Adobe server software involved but it is not clear where this fits in. Adobe LiveCycle software is usually expensive and only promoted to a select tier of accounts or through companies like EMC or IBM. My impression was that PDF is now seen as just an output option. Most of the technology discussion is around XML. Adobe was not present and their PDF server software remains unknown to most people.

IWR promotes its blog.
©2006 William Pollard
The acceptance of blogs is evidenced in the ways that the show is reported. The official Web site shows a link to the IWR blog. Last year there was a temporary blog just for the event. The IWR blog will continue year round and extends the authority of a print publication. The print version now has a "blogosphere" section on the back page and the David Tebbutt comment reflects online discussion. Information Today started to blog the event in 2003 and this year includes many photos. Their blog indicates that blogging was still an experiment in 2004, but 2005 was the first year that some press members added the word "blogger" to their badges.

The move toward e-books is only the start of a change in how knowledge is created. Text and other content online can be presented in many formats and combined for new purposes. Last year's keynote address by David Weinberger, "Everything is Miscellaneous," continues to be influential. He has now completed a book that is being edited for publication next year by Times Books. It may seem odd that an argument about how the audience can influence categories should be in the form of a printed book. However, this just demonstrates the blended nature of positions on learning and knowledge.

In this year's keynote address, Tom Stewart spoke about the speed of change, customer power and low-cost competition. He also discussed decision-making under uncertainty and management without supervision, an environment in which Weinberger's approach to sharing knowledge could contribute. There is more on the keynote address in the Information Today blog.

Trexy won the Best Specialty Search Award for their search trails technology that builds on the results of previous searches.

Nigel Hamilton said, "We want to give information professionals the power to remember and share their search trails on all the online engines they use. Having someone with expert knowledge of an information repository helps provide real authority when it comes to information retrieval. Librarians are natural trailblazers."

The "trail" is a term based on work by Vannevar Bush in 1945, describing trailblazers as "those who find delight in the task of establishing useful trails through the mass of the common record." At a seminar, Hamilton explained that the aim is about "advancing the knowledge that we have. It is not about the information. It is about what people do with the information."

Learning cycle.
©2006 Courtesy of Trexey
Megan Hamilton explained more on the approach: "Online communities are being built around social search tools. Online searchers now decide what a good search result is, and harnessing this communal effort can contribute to expert knowledge being shared among users. With Trexy, users can also follow the anonymous search trails of other Trexy users, or as we call them, "trailblazers," to quickly pinpoint information without having to do all the searching themselves. The idea behind Trexy is that if someone creates a meaningful trail, others will follow in it. This means that the more people accessing the trail over time, the more relevant it will become in the results."

Kate Worlock -- EPS.
©2006 William Pollard
In a keynote address for the e-publishing strand, Kate Worlock compared publishing with Web 2.0 ideas and saw many opportunities, although there are few examples of publishers taking advantage of it. She acknowledged O'Reilly Media both as a source for the Web 2.0 concept and for the success of the Rough Cuts series, where readers pay for the chance to suggest changes in an unfinished text. There are probably not many publishers with a strong enough connection to their audience to attempt something similar. The Safari project of online texts may be a better value as there is no assumption that a text is final as with a printed book. In London, the Friday Project is an example of a book publisher working from Web content. Beer in the Evening is a pub guide based on user generated content.

Several examples came from Nature Publishing and the keynote address was followed by Greg Suprock, Nature's emerging technology director. He confirmed that Connotea can be compared with del.icio.us for bookmarks and that Dissect Medicine compares with digg for news. Some of the new Nature projects are not yet viable but they help to create communities around the brand. Alexandria is the real estate sponsor for Nature Network Boston and there are plans to launch Nature Network London next year. Suprock described the Nature approach as "considerably different than traditional journal publishers."

Part of Kate Worlock's presentation to explain Web 2.0 was a comparison of the Encyclopaedia Britannica with Wikipedia. However, there are some changes, as Britannica gets ready for a January launch of a new Online School Edition at BETT, an event for British educational technology. Developed with Azzurri, the Talmos Britannica includes class administration features and allows staff to collaborate in producing lessons from Britannica and other sources. There are 100,000 web links to selected sites such as NASA. There may be discussion at BETT on how collaboration software could be used by students as well as staff.

In his 1945 article "As We May think," distributed at the show by Trexy, Vannevar Bush predicted that "Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified." Trexy explain a memex as "an enhanced supplement to personal and community memory."
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter William Pollard

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