The Loon is a patterned bird (just look at her back in its summer plumage). Patterns leap and pounce on her like hawks on chicks; she can’t not yodel about them.
As the Loon graded online quizzes this morning via an interface so obtuse as to seem deliberately obstructionist, she happened upon this announcement of a learning-object registry. The pattern connecting the two phenomena griped her like an eagle’s talons, so here she is to expound upon it.
Libraries and other educational institutions are most often disrupted via ease-of-use and egoboo. This pattern is most obvious with respect to their software, but their services often betray it as well.
A few examples of ease-of-use disruption:
- Amazon versus OverDrive and similar library ebook vendors. Enough said.
- Any enterprise calendaring software anywhere versus Google Calendar and iCal. (If anyone in your enterprise uses Doodle for any reason other than connecting with folks external to the institution, you lose this one.)
- Any proprietary course-management system anywhere versus patchwork Web 2.0 properties. (The Loon does admit that Moodle has quite a bit going for it, however.)
- Any library database ever versus Google. (Not even Google Scholar. Is the Loon the only avian made horribly nervous by this article? She doesn’t want her medical providers relying on Google and for pity’s sake Wikipedia!)
- Any institution-internal data-management or data-storage system versus Dropbox. (The Loon knows all about the legal and policy risk issues. Her point is that they don’t matter; ease-of-use trumps them for researchers, every single time.)
- Any institutional repository versus SlideShare, SSRN, Mendeley, etc. It’s not as though the usability deficiencies haven’t been pointed out. Repeatedly. By repository managers, would-be repository depositors, and even the occasional software developer. Until they’re taken seriously, however, IRs will remain marginal. The Loon’s settled her wings and given up on this one, she really has.
With respect to the learning-object registry linked above: do the proprietors thereof really, truly believe anyone, anywhere will do this? The Loon bogged down just in the post itself, it’s so computer-jargonified! (And the Loon understands security and licensing jargon!)
The Loon apologizes for calling out this one service; it’s not usually a thing she does, and she wouldn’t have if JISC weren’t typically open to criticism, even sharp criticism from the beaks of loons. Suffice to say that this service is not alone in its flaws. If anything, it is typical of the kind of over-engineered, over-featured, under-usable millstones emitted by library and education development processes. Why are such products still considered acceptable? In 2011, after repeated failures and disruptions, yet?
A few examples of egoboo disruption:
- Libraries and archives versus the Center for History and New Media vis-a-vis collecting (especially digitally) around immediate crisis events. CHNM grabbed the good stuff around Katrina and Rita and 9/11 by responding immediately, playing on the egoboo desire to be “part of history.” No library, no archive the Loon knows responds that quickly or with egoboo in mind.
- Any US institutional repository ever versus SSRN, Mendeley, PLoS, etc. The Loon specifies “US” because in Europe, EPrints heeded the need to provide usage statistics to depositors fairly early on. DSpace, however, had to be dragged kicking and screaming into it, and the Loon has yet to see one of the new Fedora-based (or microservices-based) repositories taking it seriously. Do library software developers not learn?
- Library fuss over user-contributed metadata versus Galaxy Zoo. If libraries want more engagement with their digital collections, never mind crowdsourced help with them, offering egoboo is part of the price of doing business. (The rest of the price is dealing with spam and malice; again, Galaxy Zoo has that substantially licked as well.) The “look but don’t touch” attitude evinced by entirely too many librarians must die a swift and ignominious death.
So that is the pattern. Can it be broken, as it surely should be? The Loon doesn’t know. She just knows that for some strange reason, libraries and universities are the last bastion of dancing bearware.
Ease-of-use and egoboo: library disrupters by Library Loon, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.