Thursday, June 15, 2006

Can't we all just get along?

  • An editorial at The Chronicle of Higher Education implores publishers & web designers to work together.
Wise words from Kate Wittenberg, the director of the Electronic Publishing Initiative at Columbia University:
Thus a number of things are clear: First, partnerships are the critical element in developing effective and relevant resources for the next generation of information users. Second, we need to face the fact that commercial search engines are now the mechanism of choice for finding information, and we desperately need Google and other powerful players in the search-engine field to help users find our content and services. We must begin treating such players as valued partners with whom we will negotiate effective ways of collaborating that benefit our businesses and our users. Finally, we know users are becoming used to communicating in sophisticated, interactive, and collaborative online environments, and therefore that the traditional forms for publishing content are at risk of becoming irrelevant if they do not evolve.

Keep in mind that we are all mutually dependent, and that no group is in a position to dictate the discussions or the outcomes: Search engines need the content provided by publishers and libraries to provide a high-quality experience for users; libraries need stable, robust technology platforms, wide use of their collections, and growing communities of new users; scholars and students need more effective access to information and the skills to determine its quality and value. So it is alarming that those groups are so often in conflict that they end up in court rather than at a conference table.

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