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I’m currently reading “The University of Google: education in the [post] education age” by Tara Brabazon. It’s absolutely fascinating, highly recommended for anyone interested in higher education and information skills in the digital age. I need to buy a copy myself, because as I’m reading I feel the need to highlight passages all the way, I’m nodding my head in agreement whilst I read..

I love this quote on page 45 – ‘Everything can be learnt from the web, except how to use it’. Brabazon notes Google Scholar as a welcome intervention to tertiary information seeking, as Scholar places the refereed literature amongst search results. Maybe I’m getting old, but it seems bizarre to me that higher education can function without the specialisation and expertise that comes from advanced information seeking – moving beyond Google and Google Scholar, which are great starting places, to the specialised databases and indexes. I think I’m finding Tara Brabazon’s book refreshing because after beating the infomation literacy /information skils drum for so long, especially *here*, it’s great to find an academic with the same beliefs.

I remember working on the reference desk at QUT, and one cohort of students arrived saying that their lecturer had set an assignment with a compulsory component of using at least three refereed journal articles. ‘What’s a refereed article?’ ‘What’s peer-review?’ It’s a convention particular to scholarly, academic literature, I guess, but it confers a value based on evaluation and quality control. We have sophisticated (maybe overly so) databases in which to search for this type of literature – I wouldn’t expect first year undergraduates to use these, but final year students who scrape by without them – are they cheating themselves out of really understanding their discipline?

So if we take Google Scholar, with its inclusion of refereed literature, as a step in the right direction, the problem of access remains. The commodification of information by international publishers placing tolls on access – a familar argument to those in libraries and repository circles. Interesting to see this coming from the perspective of information location, evalution and use.

Tara Brabazon is a key note speaker at the LILAC conference. I’ve been to the last two LILACs, they are the Kylie Mingoue’s of conferences – small but perfectly formed! Really enjoyable with a great mix of practitioners and researchers. I hope Tara Brabazon’s presentation goes online afterwards.

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Despite the fact that I’ve really got a million things to do, including preparing for at least three upcoming presentations – two on self-archiving and the repository, and one on blogging, I’m off work this week. And in Stockholm. It’s a family thing.
But an interesting thing to report – I put my powerpoints for the Blogging Masterclass at ILI on Slideshare.net and the one for ‘why have a blog’ has been really popular – over 350 views in the last two days! That just amazes me – has it just been picked up by someone with a large user group, or do people have search alerts set up to send them new stuff on their topic of interest? How did this get viewed by so many people? This is the power of open access. How else would my powerpoint have been distributed amongst so many in such a short space of time? Clearly a popular topic, and the nice thing – it’s been favourited 5 times. 🙂

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Are there any institutional repositories out there that incorporate social bookmarking tools?

A strong advocacy claim for depositing material in a repository is that this increases access to the material and subsequently increases citation rates. If we’re to look at web citations, wouldn’t adding options to post to del.icio.us, Connotea, CiteULike, etc. on each item record aid in resource discovery of that item and consequently increase the chances of citation?
I know RSS feeds can be set up from repositories, which is a useful alerting service for getting information out. However, I’m thinking of the viral attributes of social bookmarks, widening awareness of an item. The serendipitous discovery of the breadcrumb trail when following one item’s tag or viewing other bookmarks belonging to a person with whom you share a tag.
Adding social bookmarking options can be neatly done. I love the ‘Share and Enjoy’ option on the DigitalKoans blog from Charles Bailey (highly recommended – in fact it’s going on my blogroll). Not everyone uses all of these bookmarking tools, and to be honest there’s little need to use more than one but that’s one way of getting your paper or article bookmarked and collected.

It’s so obvious surely someone has had a crack at it?

Roof in progress

Photo: The other focus in my life at the moment – the saga of getting the roof re-felted and re-tiled. What do you need to know about membranes, slate tiles, scaffolding, … ?

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