BIALL Conference, day 3, Sat 16 June

June 20, 2007

Despite having a great time at BIALL’s annual dinner the previous night, held in the sumptuous Cutlers Hall, I was able to check out of my hotel and make it to the conference hall in time for the first 9.00am session. I felt it was worthwhile making the most of my remaning time, since unfortunately I had to get the 11.27 train back to London. I did manage to squeeze the first 2 sessions of the day in before rushing off, though, and I detail my thoughts on them below.

“Working with what you already have- improving findability across your organisation” – Kate Simpson, Tangledom

Kate Simpson’s presentation was another session on effective knowledge management, again aimed at those working in law firms. I must admit that due to the earliness of the hour, the pace of the presentation and the rapidity of the Powerpoint slides flashing up on screen, I may have missed some of the nuances of the lecture. However, her basic point seemed to be a good one, and was the idea that we are irretrievably “tangled up” in information, but that instead of despairing there are a number of strategies we can pursue to ameliorate this situation. In particular, there were three things on which we should focus, and I thought these three focii were a useful way of conceptualising good knowledge management:

  1. Examine user needs to determine the best way of delivering information.
  2. Review the information held to make sure it is relevant.
  3. Review IT and other systems to optimise “findability” (ugly word, but I see what she is getting at).

“Web 2.0 – Issues for Law Libraries” – Phil Bradley, internet trainer, speaker and author

This session was the sessionI had been looking forward to most all conference. I am a fan of Phil Bradley’s, if such an admission isn’t too embarassing, and I think his blog (found here) makes for essential reading. The session didn’t disappoint. I like to think of myself as someone who is fairly up on issues surrounding web 2.0, and most of the themes and benefits Bradley talked about were familiar. The main strands of web 2.0 that he covered were as follows:

  •  Bringing things together (or having bookmarks, email, RSS feeds etc. all available via a single resource)
  • Creating web-based resources (such as weblogs, podcasts, videos and other media)
  • “Search 2.0” (or the ability to search in a focussed way, and to have search results directed where you want, for example via RSS or email)
  • Sharing resources (for example via wikis, del.icio.us, flickr, Slideshare, Yousendit etc.)
  • The ability to instant message (although I’d question whether this is strictly a web 2.0 resource)
  • Weblogs (naturally!)
  • Social networks (Facebook, Myspace, Bebo etc.)
  • Change as the central concept in web 2.0- and in fact, in Bradley’s view, changing the way we work FOREVER!

While I am sceptical of claims that web 2.0 will “change everything” (I’m more on the side of Tim Berners-Lee view that web 2.0 is just web 1.0, but more developed), the sheer number of resources that Bradley flagged up, and the myriad uses these resources can be put to, was pretty inspiring, as was his call (echoing that of Andrew Mills on day one) to just get involved and see where it takes you.

The other inspiring theme throughout Bradley’s talk was his view of what IT departments are there for. He repeatedly stated that IT people are there to do what we, the information professional, tell them to do, since we are the ones who know how to manage and make available information. He obviously brooked no excuses from IT people along the lines of “well, we could do that, but think of the bandwidth!”. This is a point that I would totally agree with, although I’m not sure that stating this to your IT people in such stark terms is necessarily the best way to go!

All in all, this was an excellent presentation, stuffed with useful information and provocative opinions. You can see Bradley’s slides, via the very web 2.0 Slideshare service, here, and I would thoroughly recommend seeing him speak in person should you have the opportunity.

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2 Responses to “BIALL Conference, day 3, Sat 16 June”

  1. Phil Bradley Says:

    Thanks very much for your kind words – they are most appreciated.

  2. neilstewart Says:

    My pleasure, Phil!


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