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Monday, February 25, 2008

NFAIS 2008 Sunday afternoon

Yesterday afternoon I attended the NFAIS conference in downtown Philadelphia. The talks were actually very engaging.

First up was David Weinburger, who co-wrote the "Cluetrain Manifesto", an enjoyable book that I caught on audio book a few years back. His talk was mainly about his new book "Everything is Miscellaneous", which looks interesting based on his talk. His main point was that hierarchical classification systems are not as useful for many systems compared with spontaneous tagging by online communities. He also indicated that information overload was not as big of a problem as many people suggest, something that I definitely think is the case in science.

Lee Rainie's presentation was also well done. He presented the results of the Pew Internet & American Life project. I thought the most interesting portion was at the end, where he described the 10 different types of people, classified according to their attitude towards technology. Hopefully his report will be available shortly along with the rest. (In the meantime, Bryan Alexander took some good notes on this session.)

I presented at the next session on "The Emerging Culture of the New Information Order" on Open Notebook Science, which was a good fit, giving a laboratory researcher's perspective of Web 2.0.

My co-panelists included Chris Willis from Footnote.com and Bryan Alexander from NITLE. Chris gave many good examples of the power of community tagging, including a new project bringing relatives of Vietnam veterans together on a massive digital "wall". Bryan also gave a stimulating talk but he was so addicted to his social software that he was recording video blog posts as we were waiting to speak :)

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  • It was great meeting you, Jean-Claude. I liked your presentation, and have shared parts of it with colleagues and (ahem) through social media.

    Can you expand on your note about information overload not being a big problem in science?

    PS: it was Seesmic I was using.

    By Blogger Bryan Alexander, at 6:07 AM  

  • Bryan,
    In discussions about Open Data, I often hear the objection that it is not realistic to expose all scientific raw data because the volume is too much to handle. Depending on the field, that may or may not be the case. In most cases like this an argument is made that a special central database should first be established before sharing can start. I think that this is often a false contingency. First make the data public and see how Google handles it. You can then build additional databases to make searching better.

    By Blogger Jean-Claude Bradley, at 8:53 AM  

  • Interesting. As Google continues to hone its search strategies and protocols, will your approach become increasingly more effective?

    By Blogger Bryan Alexander, at 5:29 PM  

  • Certainly - Google has a good track record for delivering useful technologies. We'll see if it can keep up with our needs.

    By Blogger Jean-Claude Bradley, at 8:15 AM  

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