Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about web services vs. web sites and librarians as content creators. I’ve been excited by the fact that non-techies can push content to the web thanks to 2.0 principles. I’ve been amazed at the rapid development of facebook applications, netvibes widgets, and google gadgets.
This is particularly important to me because if we believe the axiom “knowledge is power,” and people feel they can gain all the knowledge they need from the internet, then whoever can put content there has some form of power. You shouldn’t have to know html to be able to publish content in your area of expertise. I don’t believe that reference librarians should have to know coding of any sort (though I do think it’s helpful if someone is so inclined). Thankfully, you don’t have to know coding to publish content on the web. You just have to know how to use some service to put it out there.
So lately I’ve been thinking a lot about blogging, twitter, flickr, and all those other places you can put your content. They’re pretty easy to use, and they make information into small pieces that can be reused anywhere. Blogging photos from flickr is unbelievably easy. So is putting a flickr badge on your website. Pretty much any of these formats using RSS can be reused in interesting ways.
So lately, at work, I’ve started several blogs. I don’t do this because I believe anyone will subscribe to a “new reference resources” blog or a blog of all our new screencasts. I do this because the feeds from these blogs make the content immensely useful. I can imaging a reference page or a library page that has content that is entirely new every week, just because the blogs have been updated. I can think of portal pages that are actually interesting because the content changes. And if someone really digs some of the content, it’s easy to find the blog or twitter feed it comes from and subscribe to it. Win-win as far as I’m concerned.
So, at this point these are just ideas I’m thinking through, but it seems to me that reusable content makes a lot of sense, anyone with expertise adding to the web makes sense, and changing content on a page makes sense. What do you think?