On Tuesday 21 November 2006 I gave a talk on “Web 2.0: What Does It Mean For The Publisher?” at an ALPSP Technical Update Meeting on “Web 2.0 Hip or Hype: New Ways to Engage Users with Content?”.  A summary and a response to the feedback we received follows.

This event was a repeat of a meeting originally meeting held in March 2006, orgnaised by ALPSP (The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers) and aimed at the scholarly pushing sector. It was interesting to read the details of the original meeting held just over 6 months ago, which described the arrival of an exciting new development: Web 2.0. Since then, the term Web 2.0 is now widely used (a feature in a recent Guardian magazine described not the future possibilities of Web 2.0, but the various successful services which are currently being used by millions).

I have just received the feedback from the event (many thanks to Lesley Ogg of ALPSP for processing the evaluation forms so quickly). The rating for the content of the meeting was very positive (75%), with 7 scores of 5, 10 of 4, 4 of 3 and 2 of 2 ( on a scale of 5 for excellent, 3 for good and 1 for poor). I would normally regard this as being indicative of a successful event. However two participants were disappointed with the event. From one perspective, this is just a small minority; however, using Web 2.0’s ‘long tail’ there are potentially large numbers of people with similar reservations. Using a Web 2.0 technology, such as this Blog, I can try and address the concerns which were raised in the feedback forms, not only for the two participants, but for the wider community.

The main criticisms made were:

  • ‘Surely much of the advice about open data is incongruous with publishers’ business models?’ This is a question I would like discussed.
  • Good general overview but perhaps good to have more real examples to ‘bring it home’
  • Brian’s talk was [too] technical. It assumed too high a level of knowledge

The issue about open data is clearly an important one for scholarly publishers, all of whom, I am sure, with be aware of Steven Harnard’s voluminous postings on this topic 🙂 This was out-of-scope for the session (which aimed to provide the broad overview) but is a topic, I would agree, which needs to be addressed – perhaps a topic to be addressed in next year’s programme of events for ALPSP. It should be noted that Web 2.0 encompasses a wide range of application areas , technologies and ‘attutudes’. However there is no need to but into the full monty – publishers should select those which do reflect their business needs. However the Web 2.0 phenomena is changing the attitudes of the end user community, the perspective of the institutions and also providing an opportunity for new business models. As a simple example, the benefits of use of RSS for alerts of new issues, new journals, etc. and for syndicating content are now widely accepted.

The potential for Blogs and Wikis may not be so apparent – if you don’t see a need for them, then don’t deploy them! However, as Terry Hulbert, IIOP, described at the event, IIOP makes use of Blogs as a tool for sharing information within the organisation, and Leigh Doods (ingenta) has told me how Wikis are used at ingenta as a simple editing tool on the ingenta Intranet. These tools are simply tools – nobody is forcing organisations to use them only in a fully open context.

I agree with the point that case studies of how such tools are being used would be valuable. So I invite any publishers who read this Blog to respond to this posting.

The final comment was that my talk was too technical. It is always difficult gauging the level at which to pitch a presentation. Providing a more entry-level talk could have resulted in a flood of comments saying that talk was too basic – but in response to this comment I would like to point people to the various QA Focus briefing documents, a number of which provide a more gently introduction to various Web 2.0 technologies such as RSS, Wikis, Podcasting, Creative Commons, etc.

I hope this feedback has been useful.