Written for Unlimited Priorities and DCLnews Blog.
The opening keynote speaker, Dion Hinchcliffe, Vice President, Dachis Group, said that this year’s hot topic is social media, and analytics are its future. Social media usage has grown extremely rapidly in the past few years; about 850 million people are using social computing today–more than use e-mail. This is the fastest migration to a new platform that the information industry has ever seen, and its effects are still being felt. Hinchcliffe said that social capital cannot be acquired by an organization alone; it is an aggregate of all its employees. One’s influence in the world will be determined by the kind of social capital he or she has built up. And analytics will be the next significant advance in social media. We can expect to see the development of many niche analytical tools but the social landscape will ultimately look like the search industry does today.
Another major topic at Online Information was search, tools to improve it, and its future. Ontologies were promoted as a major technique for improving search. Buyers of search systems are no longer talking about searching but finding information to solve problems. It is extremely difficult for a machine to interpret a query so that it matches the user’s need; the effective use of metadata has become significant for this purpose. But there are many problems that metadata alone cannot solve, so much further work is still needed. One panelist at the closing session on the future of search suggested that enterprise semantics is another technology worth considering as this problem is studied. That panel concluded that the current big challenge is to help people form their queries to so that the search engine has the best chance at returning relevant results.