RSS NewsMastering In The Enterprise - The End of The Information Professional As We Know It?
In June 2004, the transcript of an interview with Robin Good, the concept creator of the NewsMaster, was published in 'Knowledge Management', the quarterly supplement to Information Today, Inc.'s 'The Information Advisor'.
In the article, entitled "Not Enough New Roles and Titles? How About RSS NewsMaster?", Robin Good described how an organization's in-house RSS NewsMaster could create a whole range of expert news and research based products and services using the various tools and technologies that have developed recently around RSS.
In response to the Question:
"If librarians were to do this for their organizations (i.e. newsmastering), what would you see as the primary benefit and value to their staff and to the organization as a whole?"
Robin Good had replied:
"There are several major benefits in leveraging this approach to researching and gathering information. Let me mention the most important ones:
a. the ability to create specialized news channels specifically targeted at topics and issues the organization is interested in
b. the ability to let other knowledge workers in the organization syndicate, edit, filter, and reuse such news channels to create further and more refined content and information sources for their departments
c. the flexibility to add and extend the number of selected news sources to any content-generating information source online or offline through RSS output conversion
d. the potential to reuse such news content in multiple formats and multiple media with ease, since RSS is based on XML, which cleanly separates content from the presentation layer, giving publishers unprecedented abilities to repurpose information in multiple ways."
Although the Interviewer followed up on this answer to a degree, it deserves a much more detailed analysis and discussion within the information professional/corporate librarian community, for the following reasons:
- RSS is a highly disruptive technology, which as we speak is creating unprecedented turmoil (perhaps even a 'paradigm shift') within one huge global industry - the news media
- information consumers are desperate for 'something new' from the news and information publishing industries
- if traditional media do not recognize this and adapt, they will die
- it may actually be too late for traditional media to change and their current sickly condition may be terminal
This provides both an equally devastating scenario for the traditional information professional, tied up for so long to the exclusive sources made available to them through the subscription databases of the major media groups - as well as an unprecedented opportunity.
Those who recognize the threats to the status quo can take immediate steps to create enormous opportunities for themselves, their peers and co-professionals, by honing their existing expertise and competencies and re-skilling to meet the rapidly emerging and evolving needs of the marketplace.
Those who don't will find the value of their 'metier' decline and diminish, as their markets and consumers move their custom elsewhere.
Rather than undertaking a traditional PESTEL/SWOT strategic analysis of the corporate information professional, it might be more constructive to use an image, a hypothetical 'cyborg' if you like, of what a NewsMaster, or ResearchMaster, can and will look like - and then ask the simple question "How will you compete with this?"
Over the coming weeks, in order to incite constructive and realistic debate, we'll use a framework based on the core 'processes' that make up the work of the information professional and outline how, for each process, the RSS NewsMaster/ResearchMaster will be able to employ their newly acquired and honed skills to render many of those currently used redundant.
Here are the five core processes:
1. Search - how best to look for information
2. Discovery - how best to make sense of found information
3. Organization/Management - how best to organize and manage that information into valued 'packages' of products and services
4. Delivery - how best to deliver those packages
5. Reward - how best to be evaluated and remunerated for 1. to 4.
To be continued...
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