Monday, May 04, 2009

NFAIS Forum: Social Media and the Future of Scholarly Publishing - Part 1

Friday (May 1) I attended and spoke at the NFAIS Forum entitled Social Media and the Future of Scholarly Publishing in Philadelphia, PA. Participants at this event included content aggregators, publishers, and librarians who were all interested in the use of social media/web 2.0.

I was impressed by the efforts that are being undertaken. This was a wonderful opportunity to see what publishers are experimenting with and implementing. It was good to hear them talk about what was working well and what wasn't. Everyone is still learning, with perhaps the biggest lesson being that there is no magic solution.

Due to the length of my notes, I'm dividing highlights of the event into multiple blog posts.

Steve Paxhia:
  • The Gilbane Group publishes free reports on content and information technologies. Steve Paxhia, from the Gilbane Group, included information from their reports in his presentation. He sees the primary reasons people and companies are adopting web 2.0 tools are for collaboration and community.
  • Paxhia mentioned Eroom FacultyCafe at Wharton, They have created 300 faculty cafe rooms.
  • According to Paxhia, the community must have the interpersonal dynamics of a student lounge or a pub in real time for remote participants.
  • SAP has used strategic communities in order to provide tech support for its products. Users are supporting each other. There are 1 million active participants (all volunteers). 60,000 wikis. Tech support questions are answered in 16 minutes. Recognition incentives drive success.
  • Quoting Clay Shirky:
    • Audiences are built. Communities grow.
    • Communities face a trade-off between size and focus,
    • Participation matters more than quality.
    • You may own the software, but the community owns itself.
    • The community will want to build. Help it or at least let it.
  • We need to put the platform back into the hands of the people.
  • This is a bottom-up tech revolution.
  • The challenge for librarian is to stay on top of the explosion of user generated content.
  • One question -- will there be market saturation of web 2.0 stuff?
Jeff Boily:
  • From BioWizard, which is UPenn-centric and venture backed. Founded in 2005.
  • A portal focused on life scientists, who want what they want when they want it.
  • In their research, they followed doctoral candidates to see how they searched for information. They found that people stick to a few key sites.
  • The portal contains web 2.o features some of which are "Digg-like". Trying to make the content on the site viral.
  • Scientists can post their own articles to the site.
  • BioWizard is also exploring Second Life. Bioly said that an amazing number of young life science students are in SL.
  • Found that users actually spend a limited about of time on the site. High usage in limited spurts of time.
  • Among the lessons learned - make the utility of the site immediately obvious.
Lettie Conrad:
  • From, which is owned by Sage Publishing. It is a new online community for research methods.
  • The site is focused around exchange and collaboration.
  • Contains discussion forms and ways for people to comment on materials.
  • They are posting one free book chapter and one free article each month.
  • They are providing Twitter and Facebook widgets.
  • The site was recently launched, so the number of users is still small. (1000+)
John Sullivan:
  • The American Chemical Society, which Sullivan considers a long-standing social networking, is not using online social media.
  • The underlying software is from Jive Software, Inc. (BTW Information Week had an article in the March 23, 2009 issues about enterprise social software, which contained a list of vendors.)
  • Believes that when you use social software that you need to "let go" and release the reigns. They users need to have control.
  • Believes that success equals engagement.
  • They are struggling with how to measure success in meaningful ways. (Something that the Information Week article touches on, "Can Enterprise Social Networking Pay Off?")
  • Their initiatives and experiments include message boards, file sharing, polls, groups, use of Facebook & Twitter, wikis, tagging, blogs....They are also using Second Life.
  • One way that they used to grow the networking initially was in-person marketing at a conference.
  • ~11,000 people pre-registered for the ACS Network before it launched.
Jason Wilde:
  • From Nature Publishing Group.
  • "Science happens not just because of people doing experiments, but because they're discussing those experiments..."
  • There are social networking tools on their site, and they are also using Twitter and Second Life.
  • Their blogs have received 1.5 million pages views per month. 150,000 users. 500 comments per month. Comments are moderated by Nature editors.
  • Nature Network connects scientists.
    • Launched in 2005.
    • Users can create blogs and groups.
    • Still experimenting with this.
    • 100 active bloggers --> 6,000 posts --> 35,000 comments
    • 22,000 regular users
    • 1000+ discussion groups
  • Connotea:
    • Social bookmarking tool launched in 2004.
    • 6.5 million tags
    • 150,000 active users
    • 1 million bookmarks
    • He discussed a user-generated add-on called HotCites.
  • Talked about areas where audience participation have been difficult (where it is not the cultural norm) and the use of conventional marketing to drive people to the social sites.
  • In looking toward the future, he sees the need to make science more interactive online. Wilde does not know if anyone will be making money from social media.
Quick thoughts from these speakers:
  • Organizations are trying a wide variety of tools, including Second Life.
  • They are experimenting and seeing what "sticks".
  • They are employing the crowd as well as their own staff in order to fuel these efforts.
  • While there was no discussion of money, it is clear that these organizations are making significant investments in social media/online social networking/web 2.0.

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