Sara Waddington FreePint reports from this year's Online Information exhibition at Olympia
Jinfo Blog

Saturday, 1st December 2007

By Sara Waddington


This year's Online Information conference and exhibition at Olympia (4-6 December 2007, Olympia, UK) attracted thousands of visitors, over 230 exhibitors and 900 conference delegates from over 43 countries. The exhibition is co-located with the Information Management Solutions event.

The exhibition showcased a variety of content resources and information management solutions. Visitors could learn about and develop new search and information management skills at many of the 110 free show seminars. These include Information Skills masterclasses and Career Development talks; Business Information in Focus; Challenges for Academic and Corporate Libraries; Content in Context; Web 2.0, Information Management etc. Presentations from many of these can be downloaded on the website at <>.

The Online Information conference offered insight into learning; professional development; technology reviews and assessments; case studies and research results and opinions. Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia and Wikia, gave a keynote address examining "Web 2.0 in action - free culture and community on the move." Over 80 international experts, academics and business leaders were included in the programme, which can be accessed at <>.

Notes from Conference Sessions

Prior to the event, we asked you, our readers, which sessions you wanted to hear about. Here are our notes on some of the sessions requested.

Information on Web 2.0 highlights from the conference was requested by the FreePint network. Jimmy Wales, in his Web 2.0 keynote address, discussed his initiatives to create rapidly growing new concepts for community development on the Web. Not stopping with the encyclopaedia, he is now working on the rest of the library and an innovative new search engine concept. He also spoke about how the free licensing models that made ‘open source' the dominant software paradigm on the Internet are now pushing into content spaces and beyond. As part of his work at Wikia, Wales is developing a human-powered search engine ('Search Wikia') which, he says, will be based on the same open, community-driven principles as Wikia and Wikipedia.

A session on "Web 2.0 in Action (The Challenges)" was held on 4 December. In this session, three speakers, from Vodafone, ERM UK and Drugscope, outlined their views on social media, collaboration and time management.

Christian Schatzinger of Vodafone Group Services explained how Vodafone's wiki kept all its employees on the ‘same page'. Bonnie Cheuk, head of knowledge and information (Global Knowledge Sharing Programme) at ERM UK, showed the audience how Environmental Resources Management has embraced Web 2.0.

Minerva, ERM's global Internet and collaboration portal, offers all ERM employees access to a range of Web 2.0 tools (eg My Profile, wikis, blogs, collaborative workspace etc). Dr Cheuk outlined the lessons learned from the experience as a result of a new style of collaboration and communication through Web 2.0. Comments from staff to the MD's blog also resulted in changes to the way that ERM approaches and handles certain issues internally.

The last presentation specifically requested by FreePint users was given by Anne Welsh, Information Officer at Drugscope (UK), entitled "We've got the technology, but how do we find the time?".

'What is needed to create a good wiki, blog and set of bookmarks is not any special technical skill but the ability to find, create and organise information,' she told the audience. 'Make time for development ideas. When creating your wish list, ie a blog, it is very important to think "big". Don't think "small" and try to scale up - think "big" and scale down.'

She advised the audience to keep up with new technology developments - these offer the potential for increased profit/profile, greater efficiency gains and the possibility of potential future new services or the development of existing ones.

She also had useful time and money-saving tips.

'Get on board with feeds,' she urged users. 'They can save a lot of time - they save us at least two days per week, which we would have spent looking for new resources. The versatility of feeds means that any software that produces them (and all Web 2.0 software does) can be aggregated on to a main website, to cluster news and fresh information in whatever way is most useful to the end-user.'

She also stressed the importance of constantly reusing and repurposing material, ie press releases, blog articles etc, as well as sharing knowledge using wikis.

She also tackled topics such as how to keep the information flowing when you do not have a professional resource.

'Don't just do it because everyone else is or because it says Web 2.0,' she concluded. 'Do it because it meets your business efficiency and time requirements.'

OCLC, the world's largest library research and service organisation, also held a symposium, "Who's watching your space" on 5 December. John Naughton, Professor of the Public Understanding of Technology at the Open University and Observer journalist, examined the entire concept of social networking. Matt Brown, editor of Nature Network and blogger, outlined real life examples of social networking (including Second Life) using his experience from the scientific community.

Finally, Cathy de Rosa, VP Global Marketing for OCLC, presented results from OCLC's recent research report "Sharing Privacy and Trust in our Networked World". It examines four primary areas:

  • Web user practices and preferences on their favourite social sites

  • User attitudes about sharing and receiving information on social spaces, commercial sites and library sites

  • Information privacy

  • US librarian social networking practices and preferences.

The survey was sent to over 6,000 Web users aged 14 to 80+ in 6 countries.

'We know relatively little about the possibilities that the emerging social Web will hold for library services,' she explained. 'More than a quarter of all Web users we surveyed are active users of social spaces. As Web users become both the creators and consumers of the social Web, the implication and possibilities for libraries are enormous. The research provides insights into what these online library users will expect.'

Sample results indicated that, from 2005 to 2007, there had been a 33% drop in the use of library websites, reflecting the trend for users to find information from a growing number of sources. She pointed out that respondents had indicated a desire to have a two-way dialogue with information providers, urging librarians to find a way to do this online, and highlighted the potential of online resources (such as YouTube) for libraries to reach ‘Google generation' users.

'On social networking sites, 39% have shared information about a book they have read, 57% have shared photos/videos and 14% have shared self-published information,' she explained. 'Online trust increases with usage. Respondents do not distinguish library websites as more private than other sites they are using. 13% of the public feels that it is the role of the library to create a social networking site for their communities.'

The report is available for download, free of charge, at <>.

A focus on FUMSI

It was a busy show for the Free Pint Limited stand, which celebrated the 10th anniversary of Free Pint Limited. Photos of our activities can be found at <> .

As part of the celebrations, we made the award of the 'FUMSI Citation for Most Useful Article' at the Free Pint stand. Our editors reviewed the nominations and selected Heather Carine's article, "Mentors and Mentees: Structuring a Professional Relationship" <> as the winner. Heather, an independent information consultant based in Australia, was not able to accept her award in person; appropriately enough, however, her mentor, Amelia Kassel, was able to accept on her behalf. Heather receives a one-year subscription to VIP magazine <>, and the individuals who nominated her article will receive a one-year subscription to FUMSI, our newest offering, available from 2 January 2008 <>. Our press release, including Heather's remarks, can be found at <>.

We also released the results of our FUMSI user survey, which highlighted the needs of information professionals (subscribers to the different publications and sites within the Free Pint Limited network). The results can be accessed on <>.

The latest FUMSI Report on "European Research Resources" was also highlighted at the exhibition. This is a convenient introduction to Web-based resources for a variety of important topics: government, news, companies, industries and more. The new report was prepared by frequent FreePint contributor Adrian Janes, and includes an index to all URLs cited, links to other resources including industry associations and other materials published by Free Pint Limited, as well as extracts from relevant in-depth product reviews published in VIP magazine <>. For more details, please access <>.

News and product launches

The latest product launches, exhibitor news and show information can be accessed at <>.

We hope to see you at the next Online Information exhibition, which has been scheduled for 2-4 December 2008 at Olympia!

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