Online Information 2007 and the Web 2.0 Mandate

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This meeting is larger than most conferences for information professionals. Its size and drawing power make it difficult to characterize, but from the perspective of this U.S.-based writer, diversity prevailed. The language of the conference was English, although attendance was large enough and wide-reaching enough to warrant language-based sessions in Spanish, German, Nordic, French, and Italian. Several groups, including the Dutch and Germans, held "national" gatherings. One attendee noted that these gatherings permit a more nuanced sharing of information, since participants have a stronger command of their native language over English as a second language. Organizations with international members took advantage of the opportunity to meet and greet. The Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP) held its annual President's Breakfast drawing members from countries including the U.S., England, France, Italy, Israel, Spain, Germany, and Poland.

What Is Web 2.0 Again?

The full conference name was Online Information: Applying Web 2.0: Innovation, Impact and Implementation. Given the Web 2.0 theme, it would be nice to agree on a working definition for what we mean by Web 2.0. Well, that's easier said than done. For example, Wikipedia founder and conference keynote speaker Jimmy Wales refers to Wikipedia as Web 2.0 in action. According to Wikipedia itself, technology publisher Tim O'Reilly says, "Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform." The same Wikipedia article quotes an IBM social networking analyst who defines Web 2.0 as "a knowledge-oriented environment where human interactions generate content that is published, managed and used through network applications in a service-oriented architecture." On the other hand, Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, questions "whether one can use the term in a meaningful way, since many of the technology components of 'Web 2.0' have existed since the early days of the Web." One conference speaker declared that she strongly dislikes the term and avoids using it. When conference chairman Adrian Dale mentioned Web 2.0 in a conference program, he cited YouTube, MySpace, Facebook Bebo, and Wikipedia. In the context of this conference; Web 2.0 appears to encompass applications that permit an interactive web presence with the creating and sharing of content.

Online Information: Applying Web 2.0: Innovation, Impact and Implementation offered attendees a full program of 30 conference sessions. To attend all the conference sessions one would have registered as a paid delegate. Each of the 3 conference days was divided into three tracks: Web 2.0 technologies and users; information search, delivery, and management; and library and publishing developments. The 30 conference sessions looked at 2.0 from every angle, including the costs of application, its rate of adoption, how it affects search, and some case studies.

Meanwhile, approximately 60 free seminars went on in the exhibition hall. The free seminars covered more traditional territory, looking at business information, career development, STM (scientific, technical, and medical) information, epublishing, and challenges for libraries. Finally, the exhibition hall included almost 250 companies and organizations, including many industry veterans and 29 first-timers.

One can imagine how much territory the speakers could cover in 3 days of sessions and seminars. In an effort to take the pulse of the industry while also catching up on topics that might interest Searcher readers, this info pro focused on some practical aspects of Web 2.0 technologies, a few searching topics, and first-time exhibitors, sampling as many dimensions of the conference as possible.

Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

Conference keynoter Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, spoke with great energy and enthusiasm about the wiki phenomenon and the opportunity for disseminating knowledge and building community. …