Monday, 28 September 2009

Top Web Trend 3 of 5: Personalisation

As ReadWriteWeb said in their Top 5 Web Trend for 2009, "ultimately personalisation is about web sites and services giving you what you want, when you want it." While this is true, personalisation is also about giving people what they want in the formats they want. For libraries therefore, personalisation means being able to deliver the information people want, when they want it 24/7, and in the formats they want it. While this is easy to say it is not always easy to do. For example, commercial licenses and insufficient bandwidth, are two factors that can stand in the way of delivering anything and everything 24/7. Furthermore, even with Google Books a lot of information is still only available in print format.

Ultimately there is a tension between what people want and what libraries can technical deliver within their budget constraints. However, because good libraries understand their patron's needs and wants, they should be able to leverage off the advances in Web personalisation and offer even more responsive and relevant services that better meet client's needs.

So what does this mean in practical terms? ReadWriteWeb goes on to say that the personalisation is driven in part by:

  • Filtering the Real-Time Firehose: richer and better tagged semantic data means people can pull out only the bits they are interested in, and there are a growing number of dashboard services that make this happen by giving the user control over the filtering.
  • Open Web: More Data About You, Better Personalization: The growth in personalised filtering is made possible because the underlining data is richer and more structured. It is also possible because to quote ReadWriteWeb "the more data about you and your social graph that is available to be used by applications, the better targeted the content and/or service will be to you."
  • Recommendation Engines: watch what you are interested in and personalise their suggestions to your preferences.
Libraries have being offering personalisation for some time. My public library lets me identify what interest me and I get an email if new stuff comes in that is mapped against my interests.

Libraries (and of course web services and platforms) also offer users the ability to personalise their web sites. Example include:
Libraries are also increasingly allowing patrons to personalise the way they engage with the library through the use of widgets / gadgets. Patron can grab and embed a bit of the library into their own preferred web platform. For example (because they have been in the news of late) see libwww.freelibrary.org/extras/#widgets. Gone are the days when patrons had to go to a library's web site to use the library's online services.

While this is great, the type of services and trends mentioned by ReadWriteWeb will take personalisation to a whole new level. Mixing personalisation with the other 4 ReadWriteWeb trends (Structured Data, Real-Time Web, Mobile Web / Augmented Reality, and Internet of Things) will give libraries the potential to offer incredibly rich and compelling services that are directly targeted to each individual patron's needs and wants. Welcome to the brave new world!

1 comment:

Crystal said...

Yes, we really do want what we want when we want it. And when I need a book or material from the library, I want it now. I often wonder why libraries are not as up to date on their technology as I think they should be. We should hardly ever have to walk into a library to access an book.