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Conference Buzz: NFAIS 2011 -- Taming the Information Tsunami

Conference Buzz: NFAIS 2011 — Taming the Information Tsunami

Written for Unlimited Priorities and DCLnews Blog.

NFAISThe 53rd annual conference of the National Federation of Advanced Information Services (NFAIS) was held in Philadelphia on February 28 — March 1. Its theme was “Taming the Information Tsunami: The New World of Discovery.” Here are a few brief highlights of the conference:

In his address, “The Crowd, the Cloud, and the Exaflood: The Future of Collaboration”, Michael Nelson, Visiting Professor, Internet Studies, Georgetown University said that content used to be king, but now the king is connection. He gave us 12 “words that work” in today’s highly connected environment: vision, cloud, game changer, many-to-many, things, exaflood, collaboration, consumerization, people, emotion, predictions, and policy.

Rafael Sidi, an Elsevier Vice President, said that we should not look at our products, but at our platforms. Customers are leveraging social networking platforms; Twitter has changed us. The new “gold rush” area is applications because people are solving problems with them. Openness will lead to creating new things and bring collaboration.

John Blossom, author of Content Nation, said that we must learn to swim naturally in an ocean of content. As long as a system works, many users will not care about the platform. We are now in the era of the “second Web”, and no longer go to data; the data is all around us.

A major event of the conference was the presentation of the Miles Conrad Lecture by Professor Ben Shneiderman, Founding Director of the Human-Computer Instruction Laboratory at the University of Maryland. His lecture was the first one in the series to focus on social media, and echoing other speakers, he said that we have shifted from content to community. Social discovery has become a new media lifestyle, and a significant part of it revolves around apps. He also mentioned the issue of privacy in healthcare, and noted that the PatientsLikeMe service has an openness policy. Users are encouraged to share their experiences and learn from those of others. The site has become widely used and has over 50,000 registered users. Shneiderman was also instrumental in the development of NodeXL, which is a template for Excel that facilitates the display and analysis of social network graphs. The graphs can be clustered to display communities and the connections between them, which increases the understanding of the social media world.

Many of the speakers’ presentations are available on the NFAIS Web site.

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