SLA2008: The Promise of 2.0

While this talk was presented by Springer and had a Springer bias (which the speaker warned us about) it was very interesting and enlightening to hear a publisher speak about how they’re enabling 2.0 tools into their products.

Olaf Ernst, our speaker for this talk, mentioned right off that integrated econtent is king – without having your content online you can’t have added value to your content – at least not the kind of added value he was talking about today.

When he mentioned adding value, he’s wasn’t just talking about just adding value on the library side – we have to add value for all visitors to the tools, librarians and non-librarians alike. Our users are growing up with content online and they expect to find everything online – this is why the publishers have to move into this arena.

Olaf mentioned a research study by CIBER on the Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future, and listed some of the findings.

  • users demand 24/7 access and instant gratification
  • suggests that ebooks will be the next publishing success story
  • libraries need to gain a much better understanding of how people actually behave in a virtual library setting and use their expensive content.
  • there is a new form of reading – reading online

In order to handle these changes, there has to be a new publishing strategy:

  1. your content has to be online (all your content – articles, books, backfiles)
  2. your content has to be ‘findable’ (search engine indexing, portal integration, etc)

You have to work with everyone out there to make your content findable – Google, Yahoo!, MSN, Amazon, PubMed, etc. in order to make your content findable to all users.

Springer has seen a huge increase in downloads over the last year because they indexed it right and made it findable!

So now it’s time to enter the world of web 2.0 and add value to the content. Web 2.0 is characterized by participation, openness, and network effects.

Olaf thinks that publishing is a good fit for 2.0.

There are different types of openness – open source, open standards, open access. For Springer, they have Open Choice where every article, in every journal, can be made freely accessible. Springer is the first major commercial publisher to provide journals via open access.

Context is king

Adding content isn’t good enough, users want content in context:

  • find related articles on a service
  • citation tracking, view articles that cite this article
  • search within this journal, export bibliographic information of the article
  • search other databases for articles by the same authors
  • rss feeds for the journal (this last one did not get as useful as the context related things listed earlier)
  • etc.

Openness means opening the content up to the greater world of information that surrounds it – the ability to find related articles is an example of this. My question is is this really 2.0? There isn’t much participation going on in this – and this sort of thing has been around for a while … I’m not sure, because it does meet the openness model, so maybe it doesn’t have to have all three pieces to make it 2.0.


Before allowing people to participate, they wanted to make sure that people actually wanted that.

They found that:

  • 50% of adults have contributed to something online – number of blogs is doubling all of the time
  • 45% of internet users belong to a social network – people like to belong

He showed us Springer Protocols which supports commenting on both protocols and videos. This is heavily used and people actually like the idea of adding content.

Springer also has wikis. Their model incorporates the best values of the traditional publishing (quality control) with the concept of openness and participation (wiki software) — basically a moderated wiki page – users enter edits and someone approves their edits before they appear. This is a pilot project so I don’t have a link yet.

Network Effects

The value of a good or service is greater the more people join in the service.

What does this mean in the publishing arena? He showed us CiteULike where you share your library with others. This is a kind of self organized peer review – researchers are sharing their resources online and so the more people sharing a resource the more likely it’s useful – you can also rate records.


“People don’t want a quarter inch drill, they want a quarter inch hole.” – Theodore Levitt.

“Researchers don’t want the scientific information, they want the relevant knowledge in the information that will them them do their research.” – Olaf Ernst, Springer.

This was a very interesting talk and it makes me wish I was in a library and able to use these tools!

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