Online Again!

December 2, 2005 Leave a comment Go to comments

Yesterday was the first day of the International Online Information Conference and Exhibition – the premier (well I think so anyway) trade show for those interested in anything to do with online information.

Whether you are interested in competitive intelligence, or scientific information or history or knowledge management – or even just chilling out with some really great people, you’d find something to keep you interested, amused or just full up with chocolate. (Yes – lots of stands were giving out free chocolates – which means that this is one show that you should skip if you subscribe to Chocoholics Anonymous).

My day started with the annual AIIP breakfast – sponsored by the Thomson Organisation (Yes – even corporates can be altruistic sometimes!) – and speaking to old (and new) friends within the AIIP community. (You don’t know what AIIP is – and you call yourself an information professional? Go this minute to their web-site and sign up – or if you are not independent, find out how you can improve your research efforts by using some of the world’s best searchers (www.aiip.org).

And then to the day’s key-note speaker: David Weinberger (for more on David – visit his site at www.evident.com or his blog at www.johotheblog.com). Unfortunately I spent too much time chatting at the breakfast and so missed the start of David’s talk. However what I heard was enough to make me realise how much further things will go in the information-using industries (and isn’t that all industries?). He highlighted how blogs and wikis are changing the way people perceive information. He contrasted corporate web-sites with the newer collaborative models such as wikis and blogs. He suggested that corporate sites tend to be narcissistic in that they are self-referencing with links that only refer to other parts of their web-site, or sometimes to paid advertisements. Compare this to blogs which invite the reader to explore outside and visit other sites. Rather than focus on sticky eyeballs and making sites sticky (whatever that means – I’ve yet to see anybody attach their eyes to a sticky screen showing some cool web-site!) they have enough confidence in their content to know that readers will return for more – after they’ve visited the links of interest.

The impact of such collaborative approaches is sure to grow – just consider the number of entries on Wikipedia compared to something more traditional – the Encyclopedia Britannica for example. Wikipedia has more entries – many of which are highly eclectic showing the range of information that people view interesting or important. The Britannica is, more staid, serious, and tied to older ways of sharing knowledge. As a result it can’t keep up with the dynamism of Wikipedia. (Could you imagine an entry such as the Wikipedia one for Deep Fried Mars Bars in the Britannica. This was one example of several given by Weinberger).

Apparently Weinberger has given a similar talk before – which was turned into a Podcast. So if you missed the talk at online, it is available for downloading at the Everything is Miscellaneous link on Paidcontent.org. (Thanks to Marydee Odjala for this – Marydee, apart from producing a great blog at InfotodayBlog, is the editor of Online Magazine).

And then to my session. I spoke for 30 minutes on using Online tools for finding competitive intelligence that can help identify opportunities and threats. Obviously you can’t do more than an overview of such a vast topic in 30 minutes – but I tried, by giving a brief overview on competitor, customer and similar monitoring using selected online tools before moving on to mention RSS feeds as a way of keeping up to date and then selected futurist sites for anticipating the future (e.g. the Global Business Network (led by Peter Schwartz, author of the excellent The Art of the Long View) or Shaping Tomorrow as two examples. (The Art of the Long View is my favourite scenario planning/futures studies books – I list several more on my web pages at www.marketing-intelligence.co.uk/resources/books.htm. OK – I know that is a plug for my site, but this is my blog, so tough – live with it! )

In the afternoon, I found time for two sessions on searching, featuring luminaries from both the UK and across the pond in the US including Chris Sherman (of Search Engine Watch; Karen Blakeman of RBA Information services – one of the top UK based information search services; Amelia Kassel of MarketingBase who had joined me a short-while earlier as a co-leader for a round-table session on competitive intelligence where we were joined by an international audience with people from the UK, US, Europe, Egypt…; Mary-Ellen Bates of Bates Information Services; the UK’s own Phil Bradley and the aforementioned Marydee Odjala. Could you ask for more?

If all that wasn’t enough for one day – I finished off joining Will Hann of Freepint (the information professional community site – if you don’t know Freepint then this is another one to visit and bookmark now) and friends for after show drinks and snacks. A great day – to start a great show. Today – Wednesday – will finish with the International Online Awards dinner, but before then will be some more great sessions.

And the show goes on (until Thursday – 1st December 2005, that is!)

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