Information Sources — so many Sources

This week I have been dabbling with Twitter and its a very good source of topical references. If you would like to know what Tim O’Reilly or John Battelle are thinking about, then you will get lots of good ideas following them on Twitter. Or you can pick up JAFurtado’s tweets, which scatter plenty of topical technology and publishing references (I like the fact that some of them are in French or Spanish and Portuguese, although I can only cope with the French).

Twitter is on a roll, partly because Obama had 140,000 followers on Twitter at the end of his campaign also because lots of Mumbai news came from tweets. Tim O’Reilly recently had a good blog posting about Why I love Twitter. He is right to emphasise that the model of social interaction that Twitter encourages is beguiling and simple (followers and following). Tim does not make much of the fact that Twitter’s brevity (its messages are restricted to 140 characters, the SMS limit), while an obvious limitation, in fact has a lot to do with its deep appeal. That and the compressed syntax of tinyurl and similar services.

Tweets in their allusive conversational style reinforce the deeply ‘referential’ character of the web, just as much as Google’s page rank algorithms for search. But twittering is just another layer, and if you want deeper analysis we are still pretty reliant on blogs to pick up on what is happening in the technical areas that are of special interest. For me PersonaNonData, OpenAccessNews, Techmeme and Ars Technica continue to be among the best news sources, in the area between publishing, the web and technology that most concerns me.

I have also been experimenting with a free trial of the daily news briefing Insights service provided by Outsell. This week, I found particularly interesting their notes on Twitter (again), and a summary of a company, unkown to me Ringgold, that is specialising in information about institutional IP ranges and open identity solutions. These are matters of considerable interest to libraries, aggregators and periodical publishers. Outsell’s service is commercial and its coverage of big commercial publishers is particularly good. A free private email list with a similar remit, Read 2.0, is run by Peter Brantley. Brantley has a good eye for new trends and developments (broad view — almost a fish-eye lense), but you have to be asked to join his now quite large list, and if you join it you will then see a lot of email from sometimes over loquacious participants. Some of the best parts of the Read 2.0 conversation appear at O’Reilly’s Tools of Change. I wonder if Brantley’s talents would shine better if he Twittered?

When we have done with twittering, blogging and email lists we come back to personal meetings and it is still true that the traditional Trade Show has a lot to offer. This year’s Online show in London was smaller than I can recall, but there was certainly a buzz of innovation and a lot of useful information came my way. Some of it will get twittered or blogged about.

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