Magazine article Information Today

Growth Continues for Information Online Conference

Magazine article Information Today

Growth Continues for Information Online Conference

Article excerpt

The Information Online 2005 12th Exhibition and Conference took place Feb. 1-3 at the Sydney Convention Center in Darling Harbor, Australia.

As the self-proclaimed "No. 1 event for the online information industry in the Asia-Pacific region," the conference drew a very large and geographically diverse group of information specialists and librarians. Approximately 1,000 delegates attended the conference. Most took the opportunity to peruse displays from about 100 exhibitors in the trade-show sector. The delegates were predominantly academic librarians, although government, public, and special/corporate librarians also attended. The exhibit hall--conveniently close to the conference rooms--attracted more than 700 exhibit-only attendees.

Only 5.5 weeks after the tsunami disaster that decimated the northern

reaches of the Asia-Pacific region, off-session discussions continued to focus on the event and its aftermath. With the tsunami death toll surpassing the quarter-million mark, a pervading state of shock was evident, especially from people who regularly visited the tourist areas of the affected region. Charitable activities were part of the 3-day conference.

Kay Harris, convener of the event, welcomed delegates and invited them to join discussions on topics such as information governance and architecture, content and information management, knowledge management, and technology. Other prevalent topics included open access, smart technologies, digital copyright, and virtual reference.

The Truth About Metadata

Residents of Australia and New Zealand, who are known for their candor and openness, participated in the lively and enthusiastic discussions that ensued from the sessions.

I particularly enjoyed one entitled "Poor Search Facilities Cost Money--Is Metadata the Answer?" In this session, David Hawking, leader of the Enterprise Search Group of the CSIRO ICT Center, offered evidence to suggest that while metadata is valuable, the results are detrimental and counterproductive when the inherent quality of the creative input and subsequent structure are poor. Hawking highlighted the importance of correctly categorized information, and his statement was clear: Metadata needs to be created by professionals who are motivated to build it with retrieval precision in mind.

The anecdote he used was of someone doing a search on depression on the big search engines, all of which retrieved many pages describing methodologies and even groups associated with suicide. Hawking was asked for his thoughts on the value of portals versus search engines, and he responded that while Google search would fare better than a portal in overall retrieval metrics, the quality of information of a well-structured and targeted portal would be undoubtedly superior. (Proprietary database producers who continue to debate whether Google is a threat or opportunity might like to know that only 5 percent of the Web was reported as being visible to Google.)

Plenty of Room for Demonstrations

Major show sponsors--LexisNexis, EBSCO, Elsevier, IBIS World, RMIT Publishing, Thomson, and Zenith--all had a significant presence on the exhibit floor, and most took advantage of the product demonstration facilities, which were located in a room directly adjacent to the main exhibit hall.

I particularly enjoyed a new product from IBISWorld that utilizes the experience and know-how of its specialized business indexers to categorize and further define--against its own set of parameters--various business industry sectors. …

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