Social Software

Blogs, Podcasts, RSS, Flickr, YouTube – there are many exciting services on the Internet for people who want to be heard. The maxim is: “From e-Services to Me-Services” or “Everyone is a publisher.” To put it simple, this services allow the broadcasting of text, audio, and video/images from many to many. They are developed for interaction of individuals, for communication in a social context, and for building communities, therefore they are called Social Software or Web 2.0. This regularly column will show the different services which are available at the moment and which may (and will!) emerge in the future. It will discuss these services in their meaning and significance for libraries. It will motivate you to use them personally or as a tool for enhancing your library services.
Using Web 2.0 in libraries is called Library 2.0 by some. Because this term is discussed somewhat controversial I will not refer to Library 2.0 in this column.

Items of possible interests
Let us start with blogs. Blogs is short for Weblogs or “Web log book” – a diary in web format. Blogs are organized chronologically by date (newest entries are usually at the top), are updated somewhat regularly with relatively short entries, includes many links, provides a unique URL (called a “permalink”) for each individual post, provide an “RSS feed” that “syndicates” the content, link to other blogs (called “blogroll”), and can be integrated via RSS into any other web site. In the very moment while you read this, Technorati (a popular search engine and aggregator for blogs) will track and organize over 60 Mio. Blogs world-wide – this figure doubles each six months. Most are private blogs, small diaries of every kind and quality: “I woke up this morning feeling really bad, nice breakfast with my dog I had, and a dispute which makes me really mad.” Kind of that stuff. But there are some professional blogs out there, which are of real benefit. In the following I will concentrate on blogs about any topic written by medical librarians or on blogs with the topic ‘medical libraries’ written by anyone. What blogs are out there and of interest for the profession? Four US/Canadian blogs are a continuously source of information, knowledge, tips, and hints: The Search Princple Blog or Google Scholar Blog by Dean Giustini, The Krafty Librarian by Michelle Kraft, T. Scott by T. Scott Plutchak, and davidrothman.net by … ok, you’ve got it. In table 1 you find an overview of North-American blogs, ranked by popularity according to Technorati.

Especially T.Scott is a must-read for anyone interested in the very nature of medical librarianship. The former long time chief editor of the Journal of the Medical Library Association is a huge source of wisdom and with his deep thinking postings his blog is like lighthouse, not only within the blogosphere (blogosphere is the network of individuals which are interconnected by their blogs.) For sure, in the following columns I will refer to T.Scott quite regularly. In table 2 there is a list of the blogs from European medical librarians or libraries. Surprisingly there are some blogs which started earlier than the US ones and also there are some which much more frequent postings. Only blogs with current entries are listed.

Tab.1: US- and CA-Blogs

Tab.2: European Blogs

Euromedlib – an experiment
At the 10th EAHIL conference at Cluj, Romania, I had the great opportunity to deliver an empowerment session on blogs and RSS. I started an demo conference blog just before the conference named EAHIL2006. Without ever thinking, due to the interaction with other bloggers at the conference, this blog suddenly emerged into a lively conference blog with reports on sessions, clips from social events, and interviews with participants. Pictures from the conference were published via the Web 2.0 service Flickr and could be seen almost immediately by the networked participants – thanks to the excellent wireless LAN at the conference venue.
Motivated by the success- and joyful cooperation at Cluj, five bloggers from Sweden, Netherlands, France, and Germany decided to take this idea one step further and build a cross-border blog with an real European scope, called EUROMEDLIB – Items of Interests for everyone working in an European Medical Library. As it is stated in the mission of Euromedlib, “There is a strong desire for networking among European medical librarians. This blog serves as a starting point for what is at the heart of EAHIL”. You find Euromedlib at http://euromedlib.blogspot.com/. Every European Medical Librarian is invited to participate, either by writing or commenting posts.

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