Sunday, October 14, 2007

InfoCamp 2007 Live: Plenary by Bob Boiko

Day two at InfoCamp Seattle 2007 is underway. We began the day with a YouTube video titled "Information R/evolution". It's pretty slick:

We just got a very interactive (reminds me of my best lectures back at Cornell) plenary session delivered by Bob Boiko, instructor at University of Washington's Information School, author of the Content Management Bible and Laughing at the CIO, and president of Mediatorial Services.

Bob started with a quote from the cover of an issue of (the now defunct) Business 2.0 magazine: "Forget everything you know about business". He argues that we don't actually throw away old information. In fact, he argues, we "reinvent, refine, [...] and rearrange" information, building on what has come in the past.

The plenary consisted of trying to answer the question, who are we as information professionals? A couple of highlights from the answers he elicited:

  • We make the process of accessing information easier
  • We deliver information of high quality
  • We elicit the right question from users to answer their questions
  • We improve the experience of finding the question and then answering that question
Bob rounded all this out with the statement:
We hook up the knowers with the want-to-knowers.

However, he argues that this process needs to be personal and typically should involve lots of people. He argues that there are tons of idle brains around; "this is not a limited resource" he says. This sounds a lot like the current trends in social sites (a.k.a. web 2.0).

Then there's the notion of "cross pollinators" which Arron Louie brought up while introducing the key note. Regarding this, Bob asked three questions:

  • Are we cross pollinators?
  • Is that valuable?
  • How do we do it?

Regarding the first two, we all agreed that the answer is yes. As for the third, that's what this BarCamp is all about!

In fact, Bob asked me to give a session about making access to information "easier" (in this case, faster). This was after I brazenly argued that I know how to speed up access to a specific type of information by an order of magnitude in all cases. I think I'll call the session "Shortcuts to Information: Increasing Time to Access by an Order of Magnitude". By the way, an order of magnitude may just be a rhetorical device in this case...

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