17 January 2011

Growing Knowledge with LIKE

The Growing Knowledge exhibition at the British Library showcases innovative research tools and LIKE went to see it.

This was not an official LIKE event as such but it's best to see something like this in a group, one of LIKE's founders works at BL and LIKE are good at organising things like this.

Numbers were limited due to the size of the room and only the first 22 of us to sign-up were able to go. Strange to think that only a few months ago LIKE's monthly venue only held that many, now it seems a ridiculous restriction.

Growing Knowledge is an experimental room in the public part of the library (in the far right corner from the main entrance) that has modern technologies in what looks somewhat like a trendy bar, in a good way.

Or maybe it looks more like the SS Enterprise with its clean lines and bright surfaces.

The dials you can see here on the right are showing the real-time volumes of tweets in various locations. You need to know that.

The room impressed but the technology less so.

While it was cool to scroll along at a very long image, to zoom in on parts of it, to jump to embedded links and to do all this on a large touch screen, there is nothing intrinsically new in any of this.

Perhaps it seems new to librarians used to curating old books. But new or not, it is clearly useful to scholars to be able to see images of old documents that are so detailed that the marks made in erasing text can be easily seen.

Of more interest to me was the use of social networking in research with tools that show you things like people who read this also read that.

Social tools can help researchers to build collaboratively on each other's work by, for example, sharing links between documents and notes on those documents and links.

So, some food for thought there. And, this being LIKE, there was food to eat too and we made our way to the Somerstown Coffee House for, in my case, a spinach and mushroom pancake washed down agreeably with a couple of pints of London Gold.

There the conversations continued until sanity prevailed and the joint decision was made to home happy and safe in the knowledge that we would be meeting again in a couple of weeks.

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