New information seeking behaviours mean libraries and publishers have to change.
People are increasingly creating and consuming information on the move. This, combined with the growth of cloud-based products and services, is challenging the traditional workplace environment and opening up new opportunities for agile working, personal development and how we spend our leisure time. The first digital revolution took place in fixed space – in the office, the home and the library. But the second digital revolution is taking place on the move – and this has enormous implications for the continued existence of libraries and for publishers of information.
These are the conclusions of David Nicholas of the pan-Europe research organisation CIBER. He explained how he had come to these conclusions at the latest NetIKX meeting held in London. He described how he and his colleagues use technology to record millions of digital footprints and how this provides high-value insights into how people really interact with information.
He describes a world in which ‘horizontal’ information seeking (shallow and skimming) has become much more important than ‘vertical/deep’ activity. Users are bouncing around, clicking on hyperlinks that discourage deep engagement. They are hyperactive (looking at one page before moving on); unsophisticated searchers and generally ‘promiscuous’ – 40% will never return to the webpage.
CIBER has conducted research on the Europeana website. As far back as 2010, their research outputs described the critical importance of the visual and the moving image to users. The latest Europeana figures show that mobile access to the site is growing five times as fast as from fixed devices. Mobile users are ‘information-lite’ users – they use abbreviated search and spend less time on the site. They are seeking immediate answers. Peak mobile access is happening at the weekends and evenings.
For the younger generation in particular, mobile devices are trusted ‘complete’ sources of information – in contrast to libraries which they view as ‘incomplete’. Conditioned by texting they have a ‘fast food’ attitude to information. Mobiles provide access to everyone anywhere and OA models are simply increasing the information haul.
Libraries need to articulate the value and rationale for their collections in the borderless information landscape. They need to emphasise their capacity for quality control and assurance in a ‘fast food’ world.
David Nicholas was speaking at NetIKX. The second speaker was Max Whitby of the innovative app publisher Touch Press. His presentation, showcasing the innovative content of best-selling apps, highlighted that clever publishers can create content that meets the needs of both vertical and horizontal searchers. Rob Rosset has written about his presentation on the NetIKX blog here.