Current Cites

October 2010

Edited by Roy Tennant

Contributors: Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Susan Gibbons, Peter Hirtle, Leo Robert Klein, Roy Tennant

Association of Research Libraries, , and  Stratus, Inc.. The ARL 2030 Scenarios: A User's Guide for Research Libraries  Washington, DC: Association of Research Libraries, October 2010.( - The ARL 2030 Scenario Set contains four hypothetical suggestions of the state of research environments in 2030. These are not predictions of the future, but rather very different, plausible scenarios designed "to make deeply held assumptions and beliefs explicit, and to test those beliefs and assumptions against the critical uncertainties facing" research libraries. The scenarios are deliberate in the absence of research libraries in the narrative; it falls to each of us to imagine what the roles of our libraries may be in these very different research landscapes. While scenaric thinking has a rich history that dates back to the 1950’s, this is a relatively new strategic planning tool for libraries. This publication serves as a good introduction to the scenario methodology, even if the research environment focus falls outside of the primary scope of your library. (Full disclosure: I was one of several dozen individuals to participate in some of the meetings and focus groups that informed this scenario set). - SG

Boyd, Danah. "Streams of Content, Limited Attention: The Flow of Information through Social MediaEDUCAUSE Review  45(5)(September/October 2010): 26–36. ( - Certainly the concept of "flow" in social networking is not a new one. Even I have written about it as early as four and-a-half years ago, and then again in June 2009. Therefore, I was a tad surprised that this piece by one of the anointed experts on social networking seems a bit late to the party -- and even then she credits Dan Gillmor with inspiring her to talk about this. But her thoughts on flow and the issues it presents to society are well worth pondering. Better late, I say, then never. Her named challenges: democratization; stimulation; homophily; and power. My personal take-away quote: "We need technological innovations. For example, we need tools that allow people to more easily contextualize relevant content regardless of where they are and what they are doing, and we need tools that allow people to slice and dice content so as to not reach information overload. This is not simply about aggregating or curating content to create personalized destination sites. Frankly, I don't think this will work. Instead, the tools that consumers need are those that allow them to get in flow, that allow them to live inside information structures wherever they are and whatever they're doing. They need tools that allow them to easily grab what they want and to stay peripherally aware without feeling overwhelmed." - RT

Lewis, David W. "The User-Driven Purchase Giveaway LibraryEDUCAUSE Review  45(5)(September/October 2010): 10-11. ( - Lewis, the Dean of the IUPUI University Library, speculates on the role that libraries will play in a world in which most information is digital. In this "thought experiment," he suggests that libraries could better meet researcher's needs if they abandoned purchasing books for the collection. Instead a library would use its budget to purchase titles that were then given to the patrons to keep. The titles would either be loaded onto the patron's e-reader device or, if hard copy was required, printed on the library's print-on-demand printer. A library that purchased and then gave away digital books would, he argues, deliver more material to researchers at a lower price than the current model. If Lewis is right, then librarians today had better start demanding licenses for purchased e-resources that would authorize this vision of the future rather than blindly accepting whatever publishers elect to offer. They would also need to develop retrieval systems that would list not what libraries owned, but what they could purchase. - PH

Rheingold, Howard. "Attention, and Other 21st-Century Social Media LiteraciesEDUCAUSE Review  45(5)(September/October 2010): 14–24. ( - This thoughtful and thought-provoking piece explores the following interconnected "social literacies": attention, participation, collaboration, network awareness, and critical consumption (what Hemingway called "crap detection," cites Rheingold) and how they play out in the classroom. Attention is the most important, he asserts, as it is the one that is fundamental to, and links together, all the others. But ultimately, he states, "the most important fluency is not in mastering a particular literacy but in being able to put all five of these literacies together into a way of being in digital culture." Rheingold's experiences in the classroom and his useful explication of these literacies can only serve to help other instructors and professors understand their students better, their network impulses, and how best to engage with and channel them to better learning outcomes. At least one could hope. - RT

Samuelson, Pamela. The Copyright Principles Project: Directions for Reform  Berkeley, CA: University of California, Berkeley, School of Law , 2010.( - With lawsuits over digital information use and distribution flying left and right, you don't need to look very hard to conclude that the current copyright system is in need of reform. Noted copyright expert Pamela Samuelson and 19 other members of The Copyright Principles Project, including such luminaries as Michael W. Carroll, Brian Fitzgerald, Laura Gasaway, and Jessica Litman, have tackled this thorny problem and developed a set of 25 detailed recommendations for change in order "that copyright law can better be adapted to meet the challenges of the day in a way that is principled and balanced, and that would command respect from the public as well as from copyright owners." - CB

Tanner, Simon. Inspiring Research, Inspiring Scholarship: The Value and Benefits of Digitised Resources for Learning, Teaching, Research and Enjoyment  Bristol, UK: JISC, 2010.( - This full-color, 12-page brochure is designed to laud the benefits of digitization to research, scholarship, and the broader cultural heritage at large. Specific examples of British digital projects are sprinkled throughout, and serve to illustrate the main points of inspiring research and scholarship, bestowing economic benefits, connecting people and communities, and creating a "digital Britain". Although I would not normally cite what is basically a fluff piece likely designed to garner further funding and support for a digitization program -- or to help justify it -- this is a potentially useful example of what might be effectively employed on a smaller scale -- say, to help increase support for a digitization program within a particular institution. - RT

Wainewright, Phil. "Defining the True Meaning of CloudZDNet  (30 September 2010)( - Since I've been speaking recently about "cloud computing," which can be a vague and difficult to define term, I took notice of this good piece that seeks to do just that. Wainewright states that to be true cloud computing, all four of these aspects must apply: 1) abstracted infrastructure (purposely made more broad than simply "virtualization"), 2) as-a-service infrastructure, 3) multi-tenancy, and 4) cloud scale (i.e., the capacity to handle usage spikes, etc.). Altogether, this very brief piece is one of the best I've seen on condensing in an understandable fashion what "cloud computing" means in real terms. - RT

Wilkinson, David, and Mike  Thelwall. "Social Network Site Changes Over Time: The Case of MySpaceJournal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology  61(11)(November 2010): 2311-2323. ( - Some social networks live and die; others evolve to serve in another way. It's this latter scenario that the authors examine, looking in particular at former leader-of-the-pack MySpace through the years 2007 to 2010. Along the way, they bring up useful ways of thinking about social networks, who belongs to them and why. - LRK