Monday, 20th December 2010
I am all for sharing content and support the research fundamentals of ‘building on evidence’. I am also interested in tools and products that help us information professionals and the research community connect and share. It is one of the many important features I look for as I review products here at VIP – in fact we give extra brownie points for sharing features that aid content workflow and management.
But is it always good to share and are we being driven to share just because we can or we are told we have to? Also does this sharing requirement only encourage ‘more content’, not necessarily better content? Having more content in the system perhaps just leads to the same old issues of information overload.
New tools and applications are coming into the marketplace daily, each with its own message of changing our lives for the better. Video has been a strong trend in information sharing and will continue to be into 2011 – we all get visualisation. Greater discoverability tools like semantic technologies continue to add extra dimensions and use to content – there seem to be many more layers and depth to content now to explore and use.
Back in September 2010 I was reporting on the British Library project on examining research and the processes of sharing – ‘Collaborative research behaving badly’ (http://www.vivavip.com/go/e30696). A recent blog post on the Research Information Network reminded me that ‘forced altruism’ (http://digbig.com/5bdcqw) is not always the best route forward.
Sharing content brings up many problems such as protecting intellectual property rights but also in questioning the unilateral benefits – does it really help everyone? Sharing because you have to does not always make the job worthwhile and benefits may be few. How well we share is perhaps more apt – for example using tags, annotations and structuring data is just as important to ‘maximise impact and reach’. And that is the crux of the matter.
I have been working on and off on a health information content project for the last 9 months or so. I have given advice on content – what it should look like, what formats it takes, how people look for information and how they want to use it. The potential ‘content engine’ is huge and possibly never-ending. Sharing that content – from ‘hyper-local to global level’ - seems obvious, but what will make this resource a success will be in the classification, tagging and structure behind it; the next stage of my involvement.
Is it good to share – yes probably, but only if we maximise what is good content and have greater discoverability and clarity. Sharing for sharing's sake does not add value to users, information professionals or the research community.
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