The rise of new web applications that both facilitate and depend upon user contributions has exposed a number of serious issues that today’s libraries must face. These web services allow users to easily:
* build digital collections (YouTube, FLIKR);
* join and create social networks (or digital collections of people such as MySPACE, Facebook); and
* self publish (Blogger, LiveJournal).
The advance of these tools have had impacts in multiple areas. One clear example is on software developers (and consumers). Software developers now release early betas of software to a community for testing and refinement…sometimes creating permanent betas that never get officially “finished.” Software developers also often look to a loosely coupled cadre of programmers to create and/or maintain software and standards through open source. These shifts in the Internet software community have already begun to impact libraries. User expectations for the online catalog and the services of a library they can access online have changed, and libraries must keep up.
The American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy has contracted the Information Institute of Syracuse to research and write a detailed technology brief on the topic of participatory networks. The brief will put an emphasis on interactive and social web applications such as blogs, social networks, and include a survey of the general “Web 2.0″ and “Library 2.0″ development world. The idea is to present a comprehensive document library decision makers can use to understand the new wave of social Internet applications, and devise strategies to respond to potential opportunities and threats. The draft of the document will be shared with ALA as well as experts in the field for initial comments in September and October. A public forum will be incorporated into a final drat document at the 2006 LITA Forum in Nashville.
The lead authors of the brief are R. David Lankes and Joanne Silverstein.
The public draft and web tools for commenting will be available soon.