Friday, February 13, 2009

Horizon unConference part 2

Day 3 and we start with an extremely interesting chat with John Dalton who, though based in Hobart is a DBA for LibraryThing. He talked a little about LibraryThing 4 Libraries, but stressed he wasn't a salesman, and a lot about user tags and the power of folksonomies - and coffee table books.

Next DA's GM talked about the future of publishing from his perspective - probably the highlight was the video of the Espresso Book Machine in action. Yet again I got a sense that an industry intertwined with tertiary education was at the brink of major change. Publishers are getting closer to accepting the primacy of E over P, and considering ideas like selling micro content (eg a chapter out of a textbook).

The next ILS vendor was Civica showing Spydus. I got all nostalgic, having administered URICA back in the mid 90s - the product has come a long way - in fact it's not recognisable as related to URICA at all, which was written in Pick and sitting on a UniData dbms on a proprietary UNIX box (how did I get so old?) - Spydus is firmly in the Windows camp sitting on SQLServer and with client modules that act very much in the manner of the Microsoft Office Suite. It was the only Australian provider.

We then had Innovative Interfaces present, tag team, their core product and a couple of add ons. They worked hard to dispel the 'black box' myths about Millenium, saying that the data was fully accessible through web services. The ability to access functions associated with other modules without having to leave the module you were in was very appealing (eg create a temp bib record while in circulation). Another high point was the fuzzy search that when queried for 'Harry Potter and the Magician's Rock' asked if we meant 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone'.

The day wrapped up with a group session led by Anne Scott of the University of Canterbury. We got a sense of who was happy to sit with Horizon and tweak HIP, who was looking at a discovery layer over Horizon (which would make the move from Horizon transparent to searchers). We agreed to take HES up on their offer of groupware to give us a space to continue the conversation.

We discussed the possibility of collective bargaining, and while it makes sense to combine our economic 'might' there is little chance we would have identical aims for our resource discovery systems.

A draining but thought provoking three days, well organised, and a much needed crash course in the major ILS options open to us. I look forward talking more about the things it's making me ponder.

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