Informare! 'Knowledge and understanding' at German information conference

At the the debut of a new information community conference in Berlin the conversations covered linked data, social media and research in corporate environments.

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Informare!, held in Berlin in May 2011, attracted some 350 delegates from academic and corporate work environments.

The brainchild of information industry veteran Arnoud de Kemp, Informare! kept its promise of delivering knowledge and understanding.  Held at the iconic Café Moskau, centre of East German spying activity during the Cold War, Informare! exemplified exactly the opposite.  Instead of a closed society, where information was not freely available or particularly trustworthy, the speakers at Informare! dwelt on open and shared information that can create new knowledge.

Stefan Gradmann, President of DGI (Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Informationswissenschaft und Informationspraxis) and library and information science professor at Humboldt University in Berlin, set the tone in his opening talk when he discussed the relationships among data, information, knowledge, understanding and wisdom. This wasn't the traditional pyramid, with data at the bottom and wisdom at the peak. Instead, Gradmann stressed that those concepts are interrelated. Knowledge can be viewed as information in context and Linked Open Data can provide contextualisation resources to help create knowledge. To illustrate this, Gradmann pointed to the Europeana website and its incorporation of semantic elements. Gradmann concluded by suggesting we consider the 'syntactic web' rather than the 'semantic web'.

Social media

Prof. Dr. Klaus Tochtermann, Director of the ZBW - Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft in Kiel/Hamburg, moved the discussion from the theoretical to the practical as he described what he saw as opportunities and risks for the information industry. What is the future of the internet for information professionals and for libraries?  Tochtermann described how four important elements of the future internet (internet of content and knowledge, internet by and for people, internet of things and internet of service) differ and how they will affect future behaviour. He is particularly excited about social media and user generated content and mentioned the Enterprise 2.0 Fallstudien as an example of a platform for scientific case studies of Enterprise 2.0 implementations. In fact, ZBW is heavily involved in experimenting with social media. I was particularly intrigued by its use of Twitter to ask and answer reference questions. ZBW also makes extensive and effective use of blogs, has a presence on Facebook and employs a community manager.  (Prof. Dr Tochtermann will be a keynote speaker at Internet Librarian International 2011).

Social media was also on the mind of Alexander Stocker, a researcher and project manager at DIGITAL - the Institute for Information and Communication Technologies at Joanneum Research in Graz, Austria.  Celebrating the importance of openness and transparency, he said that the next generation of employees will expect this, just as they will expect the equivalents of Facebook and Twitter in the workplace.  Some companies are moving in this direction. Both Siemens and Capgemini, according to Stocker, use Yammer for internal communication.

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