Panlibus Blog

When is Local Global?

I am currently sat at the back of a hotel conference room in Leeds, in the morning session of one of the Talis Customer Days is in full flow. I am presenting on the future, Web/Library 2.0, and the Talis Platform during the afternoon session. Through the wonders of hotel broadband [it’s a wonder it ever works]; bringing a wireless router with me; and Virtual Private Networking [VPN] I’m not only physically in Leeds, I am virtually at the Talis Offices near Birmingham.

This is, frustratingly, very real – I now know via internal email that I have just missed the breakfast van; the sandwich delivery has just taken place at the Talis office, and its still two hours to lunch here in Leeds! An example of, virtual, local activity in a global context – because of ubiquitous Internet connectivity I could have been equally frustrated by messages about sandwiches anywhere on the planet.

This brought me thinking about the comments that have flowed from Paul Miller’s posting from a couple of days ago.

In discussing shared participation Paul commented:

there’s certainly a place for viewing comments by those geographically nearby. There must surely also be value in viewing comments across a community of interest, regardless of space. Yes, there’s already Amazon, but the comments are locked up there. A shareable pool of comments contributed to and consumed by libraries

This drew the, somewhat surprising to me, comment from John Blyberg at Ann Arbor:

In regards to shared participation, yes, I agree with you Paul that building a pool of contributed content could be a powerful and useful addition to any PAC. However, in a community such as Ann Arbor where both Ed and I live, my intuition tells me that we would want to avoid such a clearinghouse and opt for a community-built social software program. The reason is that (as most people in Ann Arbor would agree), our community is very unique and filled to the brim with book-lovers and library-users who could start building a database that belongs solely to our community and reflects the tastes and interests of the community, not the world at large. The main problem with a large shared database is that it is no longer unique and will ultimately align itself with the likes of Amazon.

It is at times like these that you have the realization that your assumptions are not always in line with everyone else’s.

So what are my assumptions then? Well firstly, the contributions of the citizens of Ann Arbor would be of great use, interest, and value to a far wider audience than just their district. Secondly, contributions to any global pool should be tagged as to their source and type. Thirdly, because of that tagging, selection of results should be able to be via many filters such as library, library authority or institution, library type, country, language etc.

So following through those assumptions in John’s situation, I would hope that contributions for my community would add value to the global pot; be displayable locally in isolation as a coherent set; and optionally could be supplemented by those from other appropriate communities around the country and the rest of the world.

To answer my own question in the title of this posting, providing data is tagged as to its source and type, Local is just a filtered view of Global resources so under the hood they can be the same thing.

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