Saturday, October 15, 2011

What would Steve Jobs say? Reinventing the library catalogue

Steve Jobs first pitched for the iPhone at MacWorld 9 Jan 2007. Here is the original transcript and below is the video of the master at work.

There Steve claimed to be reinventing the phone. How would he reinvent the library catalogue?

"This is a day I've been looking forward to for almost 140 years. Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything. And Libraries has been -- well, first of all, one's very fortunate if you get to work on just one of these in your career. Libraries been very fortunate. It's been able to introduce a few of these into the world. 1876, introduced the Card Catalogue. It didn't just change Libraries. It changed the whole print industry. In 1960, we introduced the first OPAC, and it didn't just change the way we all search for books, it changed the entire online world. Well, today, we're introducing three revolutionary products of this class. The first one is a next generation library catalogue search with faceted browsing and web 2.0 features. The second is a revolutionary searching device that searches articles from databases. And the third is a breakthrough mobile internet device. So, three things: a next generation library catalogue; a revolutionary searching device that searches articles; and a breakthrough mobile user interface.  These are not three separate devices, this is one device, and we are calling it icatalogue. Today, libraries are going to reinvent the catalogue!"

"So, before we get into it, let me talk about a category of things. The most advanced catalogues are called next generation catalogues, so they say. And they typically combine a catalogue search plus some social capability, plus they say it's web 2.0. It's sort of the baby web 2.0, into one device, and they all have these advanced search options in them. And the problem is that they're not so smart and they're not so easy to use, and so if you kind of make a Business School 101 graph of the smart axis and the easy-to-use axis, classic catalogues are right there, they're not so smart, and they're not so easy to use. But next generation catalogues are definitely a little smarter, but they actually are harder to use. They're really complicated. Just for the basic stuff like finding articles people have a hard time figuring out how to use them. Well, we don't want to do either one of these things. What we want to do is make a leapfrog product that is way smarter than any catalogue has ever been, and super-easy to use. This is what the icatalogue is OK?"

Okay so it didn't fit very well but then again I don't have a reality distortion field :) 

BTW the hypothetical "icatalogue" is in fact the web scale discovery product/unified index product, but improved further perhaps with more social features or should it be gamification (maybe along the lines of the social features for bibliocommons or Lemontree project)?

R.I.P Steve.

Bonus : Downfall Parody of savelibraries campaign in UK by Phil Bradley.

For those who are unaware this is a internet meme, where people post fake subtitles of a scene from the German movie Downfall, where Hitler discovers some unpleasant fact and starts ranting. Of course since this is a parody the fact discovered can be something utterly trivial (such as being banned from World of Warcraft to something bigger like Obama becoming president).

I have not found many library related downfall parodies (maybe 3) but this seems the best. With so many library issues from the serials crisis, budget cuts, library closings, ebook pricing , one suspects that more could be created...  Anyone game ? :)

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