Wherein the IngentaConnect Product Management, Engineering, and Sales Teams
ramble, rant, and generally sound off on topics of the day

Another new appointment: welcome Anna Drage

Monday, March 31, 2008

We're very pleased to welcome Anna Drage, joining us today as Senior Client Manager with responsibility for some of our major publisher customer relationships. Anna comes to us from Atypon where she had a similar role, and prior to that she worked at a number of publishers including Oxford University Press, where her responsibilities included their relationship with HighWire. So we feel very confident that Anna has a comprehensive understanding of our industry, our customers, and our competitors.

The full press release about Anna's appointment is here.


posted by Charlie Rapple at 10:14 am


Consortial Networks and Publishers: Partnering in a Sea of Competition

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Electronic Resources & Libraries conference is taking place from tomorrow in Atlanta, GA. This is the conference's third year, and it's sold out - no surprise, given that it's a packed schedule with some strong speakers. Our own Jeff Downing (library relations manager) will be part of a panel discussion about the ways in which consortial networks can help libraries to retain "market share" in an increasingly competitive landscape. Here's a précis of Jeff's paper (which we published in last week's eyetoeye newsletter).

It is no secret: libraries face daily and ever-increasing competition. Within this sea of competition, however, publishers and regionally-based consortial networks are forging partnerships to develop creative, long-term cost-effective business models for content delivery.

Where is the competition coming from?
Competition for traditional library services is coming from all directions, but most obviously from the web, where consumer information is widely available and in many cases freely accessible. Wikipedia, for all its faults, has become a destination reference resource while other less well-branded sources of information are made easily discoverable by search services such as Google. Thus users are now able to self-serve much of the information that historically has only been available via the library or other paid services. But, of course, users are largely untrained in the skills of assessing found materials for authoritativeness, and in forgoing library assistance they are at risk not only of missing out on valuable paid-for resources, but also of basing their studies on incorrect data or ill-formed arguments. The convenience of internet research is substituting for the credible sources to be obtained from the traditional library.

What effect does this new competition have?
Historically, libraries have had the good fortune of being a monopoly; if you wanted access to information, especially authoritative information, you went to the library. Libraries had no competition and thus had no need to operate like a commercial business. As other resources become more prominent, libraries are having to re-envision and re-tool to operate in a more competitive environment. This is an attitudinal shift to which not all librarians are ready to adapt; the rigours of competition in a free market are not necessarily a welcome environment for those who have opted for an altruistic career assisting researchers in their information quest.

End of Chain of Craters Road, where it meets the lava flow (Volcano National Park, Hawaii)

Some people's reaction to the sea of competition?

How can libraries reinforce their value in the information supply chain?
Researchers continue to need to access quality, peer-reviewed information, and in providing this the library is making itself an essential tool in the academic arsenal. Libraries should take advantage of regional networks like Amigos and Palinet that can help by promoting libraries as information providers and community leaders, and by facilitating sharing of resources and development of innovative services. Networks may also be able to negotiate discounts of which members can take advantage when purchasing scholarly content from publishers or aggregators.

If you are attending ER&L, be sure to attend this session in order to add your voice to the discussion. If you would like to arrange an appointment with Jeff Downing during the event, please contact jeff.downing@ingenta.com - or stop by the Ingenta table at the sponsors' reception tomorrow night.

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posted by Charlie Rapple at 5:34 pm


Latest issue of our library newsletter is now live

Just a quick posting to let you know that the latest issue of our eyetoeye newsletter for libraries went out last week, and contains:
I apologise that I still haven't implemented RSS for our newsletters, but would like to reassure you that they are scheduled for a bit of lovin' (a redesign is on the way!) and we'll get RSS in as part of that.

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posted by Charlie Rapple at 2:59 pm


A 2:1 in B2B blogging

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tips for successful blogging abound, but most seem to relate to b2c. I know that a lot of our readers are from other businesses, and for me the b2c guidelines often miss the mark. So I was pleased to spot this "Eight tips for successful B2B blogs" posting over on Search Engine Land. And since a lot of our business readers also have their own b2b blogs, I thought I'd share it here. If nothing else, it's a useful way of benchmarking your current performance:
So, overall I make that 48/80, a very respectable 60%, which at my university was a sigh of relief and a scraped 2:1. Anyone want to share their own rating? (or insist that my paper be remarked?)

(Don't forget to check out Search Engine Land's original posting where they go into more detail about each of these tips.)

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posted by Charlie Rapple at 10:50 am


The Two Ways of Web 2.0

Friday, March 07, 2008

In a recent posting titled, "The two ways of web 2.0", Lorcan Dempsey explores an interesting view of the "2.0" discussion, introducing the notions of concentration and diffusion.

Dempsey applies the term diffusion as a label for the communication, social networking, data syndication aspects of Web 2.0. Whereas concentration is essentially the opposite: harvesting, combining and reusing data that has been "diffused" out onto the web. The two aspects are obviously complementary and, in truth, like much of Web 2.0 aren't new. As techniques for sharing information these are well-trodden paths. Think "Broadcast" and "Aggregation". But many concepts get a new lease of life when combined with the great levels of interactivity and socialization that the web now offers.

I've made several attempts myself to tease apart Web 2.0 into more manageable chunks. Most recently in a paper in Serials called "The Threads of Web 2.0" in which I tried to decompose the concept into several buzzword free trends. Speaking to the same notions of data flow, albeit with a slightly more technical angle, I've also explored the ideas of Streams, Pools and Reservoirs as a model for data publication and aggregation on the web.

I've seen a few discussions lately about whether there is a continuing role for aggregators on the web in these days of near ubiquitous search. I think Dempsey's notion of concentration addresses that point directly: there is a definitely a role for aggregators, but that role is changing from one of simply compiling large volumes of material, towards compilation of relevant subject-specific collections for specific communities. This is where in my posting I differentiated between Pools (simple aggregations) and Reservoirs (pools that support a community).

Dempsey observes that librarians need to begin thinking about concentrations of data and how this might benefit their mission. I think publishers would do well to do the same. It strikes me that societies and other member organizations are particularly well suited to creating and driving these new aggregation models.

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posted by Leigh Dodds at 11:35 am


Have you heard the one about Moses and the subversive knitting Weebles?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Every now and then I come across some quite silly article titles on IngentaConnect that cause me to stop and re-consider my inbuilt expectation that science is only carried out in the pursuit of high-minded noble ideals.

Some of my favourite examples over the years include Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting, Blind Ducks in Borneo, and Weeble Wobbles: Resilience Within the Psychoanalytic Situation (this one even had follow-up articles, What Is A Weeble Anyway, And What Is A Wobble, Too? and "Wobbly Weebles" and Resilience: Some Additional Thoughts). And of course we've suddenly uncovered a wealth of them since we came to host the Annals of Improbable Research ("A Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gown" is certainly one I'll be taking home for further study).

The one that has caught my attention today, though, doesn't have the most immediately entertaining of titles (Biblical Entheogens: a speculative hypothesis). But perhaps I would have found it more noteworthy if I had at some point learnt the definition of
entheogen (en.THEE.oh.jun) : any substance, such as a plant or drug, taken to bring on a spiritual experience
Psychoactive substances? in the Bible? Well, yes, according to this recently-published hypothesis, which claims that Moses' vision of God and the burning bush was brought on by hallucinatory drugs. And what a stir it has caused. (It even made the British Daily Mail, but I'm afraid I'm too liberal to give them any link love).

It's particularly interesting to compare this to the Weeble examples I cited above. In that case, a controversial article was followed by letters to the editor, follow-up articles and the publication of "some additional thoughts" - the traditional progress of an academic debate.

In the Moses case, the discussion is already raging in the blogosphere just days after the article's publication (aided, I acknowledge, by an inflammatory TV appearance by the author in which he upgraded his 'hypothesis' to a 'probability'). Sure, a lot of the blog postings are Beavis-and-Butthead-style sniggery, but beyond them there's also a fair amount of reasoned, informed analysis (the Merkavah Vision and and BHA Science Group postings, for example).

It is in the reactions provoked by these controversial publications that we see the ongoing development of alternative scholarly communication channels - but they are also evidence of the "authority" problem with user-generated content. In having to sort the wheat (informed analysis) from the chaff (ranging from uninformed sniggery to non-scientific zealotry), I found myself frustrated by not knowing whose rhetoric to trust, and remembering m'colleague Leigh Dodds' paper at our PT Trends forum in December (Authoritative? What's that? And who says?).

Roll on wider adoption of the BPR3 initiative (which proposes that bloggers use icons to indicate when their posting is a serious discussion of a peer-reviewed work), or indeed of the embryonic kitemark for authoritative content that Leigh posited during his paper and which CrossRef are exploring further. As the boundaries between peer-reviewed publications and other fora for debate become less defined, I for one will appreciate a mechanism that defines whose analysis I can take seriously and who I should take with a pinch of salt.

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posted by Charlie Rapple at 4:12 pm


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