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Roddy MacLeod :: Blog :: Why the Gold Dust project is exciting

January 17, 2008

I read Emma Place, in the Intute blog, saying “I would agree that Internet research skills should be actively taught as a formal part of the university curriculum.”  At the present time, it’s hard to disagree with the idea that most students could benefit from being taught at least some information gathering skills.  But this is mainly because many of the tools, search engines and search services, some of which cost thousands of pounds in subscription charges, are so dreadfully difficult to use - each one seems to have its own interface, style and content - many of them are dreadfully slow to respond - and to cap it all they change their interfaces on a regular basis.  

Anyone working in an academic library will also know that there is a great deal of overlap between various services, resulting in much wasted effort on the part of the searcher, that the links between many search services and available full text are often less than perfect, and that access/authentication methods can still be complex - to say nothing of the many names that searchers need tio get to grips with (e.g. Scirus, ScienceDirect, Web of Knowledge, ProQuest, Zetoc, Scopus, Synergy, EbscoHost, Emerald, Scholar, InformaWorld, IngentaConnect, Ovid, Scitation, WorldWideScience.org - and so on, and so on.)


Information skills training involves stuffing much of this down some often not very willing throats.  After all, most students go to university/college to study a subject (maths, science, languages, whatever) and not to study how to find things by using multiple not-very-user-friendly search services, or to learn information skills.


Much more effort should be going into developing next generation finding services.  I use the term ‘finding’ rather than ‘search’ because I reckon that in ten years time the whole concept of actively spending time ‘searching’ for things may seem very old fashioned indeed.


In the future, the right information should come, by itself, to the user (rather than the user spending time searching for the right information).  It should come to the user with the least possible effort (if any) on the part of the user.  It should come to the user in a place of the user’s choice, rather than one of a myriad of places that the user has (usually) to log-in to, or remember the lname and/or ocation of.


Working towards getting the right information, at the right time, in the right way to the right person, in the right place (i.e. an online place of their choosing), with no need to do things such as define search terms, or whatever – this is what the Gold Dust (U&I) project is investigating, as far as current awareness information is concerned, anyway.  One project (such as Gold Dust), by itself, won’t be able to solve too many problems, but it's because Gold Dust is aiming in the right direction that it is such an exciting project.

Overview for Keywords: Gold Dust, information skills, search

Blogs with Keywords: Gold Dust, information skills, search

Posted by Roddy MacLeod

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