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Robin, This One’s for You!

I love The Chronicle of Higher Ed’s Wired Campus blog. Despite much benign GoogleReader neglect, a quiet weekend at the SMCM Library has allowed me to catch up on my feed-reading, and–surprise, surprise–most of my favorite posts are coming from Wired Campus.

Two of my favorites can easily be lumped into what I call the Robin-eye-rolling-exasperated-sigh-followed-by-angry-hand-waiving category (Robin being a former librarian co-worker and the rest being, well, self-explanatory). Although I may not be in the mood to test out the WordPress Categories character-limit, I did want to be sure to give a Robin shout-out.

Robin, this post’s for you.

WheelReinventing the Wheel

A $12.2-million federal stimulus grant from the National Institutes of Health will finance a network some are calling a Facebook for scientists.” Rather than use established professional networking tools like Ning, LinkedIn or, this grant will help build yet another online tool that most faculty will not use. Forgive me for being snarky, but really NIH? If most academics are anything like my husband, The Professor, they probably know most of the colleagues with whom they share research interests.

Earlier this month The Professor went to a “math monestary” for a week-long workshop and managed to meet and reunite with most of the researchers in his field. He described it as one of the best research experiences he’s ever had, and came home with several collaborative projects in the works. The huge boost came from spending time with his colleagues, and not just in seminars. Hikes, dinner, drinks, and sightseeing all gave these researchers time to get to know each other as people and develop relationships that grew into collaborative projects. I don’t really see a multi-million dollar “new Facebook” doing as good a job promoting collaborative research as face-to-face interaction.

3885190336_baaaf67e7d_mSold! Twice!

Wired Campus also had a recent post (The Library-Catalog Wars) on a Sept. 09 Chronicle of Higher Ed article about “new search software” for libraries. My former place of work was one of the libraries testing out a so-called discovery search interface from Innovative, namely, Encore. As my former co-worker so aptly put it: Rather than improve their catalog interface, Innovative just created a brand-new search product with a brand-new price-tag. The craziest part: Libraries are buying it! They’re spending huge sums of money on  search overlays produced by the same companies who produce their crappy catalog. Although Chronicle of Higher Ed article does highlight some open-source alternatives, it sounds as though quite a few academic libraries are willing to shell out extra cash for a better “search experience.”

Robin, let the eye-rolling begin.


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