Monday, 16 March 2009

Here comes everybody

Recent reading has included "Here comes everybody" by Clay Shirky. I can thoroughly recommend it to anyone seeking a thought provoking read on the effect of the web and of social tools more particularly on how we get things done.

There is plenty in there to link to KM. How do we exploit the low transaction cost and barriers to shared working that web tools can offer? In a world of folksonomies and full text searching via google books does our formal cataloguing offer enough added value to justify the costly professional time (at least in a library like mine)? How do we position ourselves in terms of the filtering role?

I was really interested in some of the theory around communities and how they work as they grow. What sort of semi formal and formal structures might we participate in to ensure both a closer understanding of user needs and a two way flow of information with the widest number of people?

I recently experimented with inviting reader reviews of items in our collection to appear on our library catalogue but this drew a very limited response. In this instance I think it was a combination of insufficient audience, insufficient incentive to participate and too high a barrier with online submission linked to the item not available.

Shirky identifies three requirements for a successful online collaboration

Promise - a plausible goal
Tool - easy / free / appropriate
Bargain - what you expect what they can expect

I'll be bearing these in mind next time I set out to try and generate some participation in my service.

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