by Erin Anderson on Fri, June 19, 2009
Fluidity is about being flexible, variable, graceful and agile. OSTI as an organization is fluid. We are listening to the scientist, the researcher, the educator, the librarian, and the science attentive citizen. What do they need? What do they want? How can scientific and technical information reach them when and how they desire it? How can we make their work better, faster and easier? This OSTI agility means that switching gears midstream and going with the Web 2.0 flow to meet the needs and expectations of the public, is something just our speed. The Wikipedia definition of Web 2.0 states that "[i]t is characterized as facilitating communication, information sharing, interoperability, and collaboration on the World Wide Web." Web 2.0. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0 (retrieved June 4, 2009). What better fit to the OSTI Corollary "speeding the sharing of knowledge will accelerate the advancement of science"than the techniques and technology of Web 2.0?
To speed the sharing of knowledge, OSTI is facilitating communication through blogging, audio, podcast, and video sharing. We are also engaged in information sharing via widgets, alert systems, RSS, XML and OAI services. These tools compliment a variety of our scientific and technical information products, such as DOE R&D Accomplishments and DOepatents. They are tools that serve to increase accessibility by simultaneously enabling the information (format, speed, variety) and enabling the user (access, speed, variety) and therefore enabling the acceleration of science (sharing, collaboration, access, format, speed, variety). What is an especially key element to Web 2.0 is the notion of collaboration. Comment and discussion forum options, as well as the ability to use tags and tag clouds are just a few of the collaboration tools that OSTI provides.
Keyword searching and linking are also prime examples of OSTI utilizing Web 2.0 techniques in order to enhance information sharing. Our recently redesigned homepage contains a "Read, Listen & Share" box that brings together options for both facilitating communication and engaging in information sharing. Instances of interoperability include offering software as a service or APIs on the full text of the Information Bridge and, in another sense of the word, include how OSTI has established an information presence on outside web-based communities and web applications such as social-networking sites. OSTI has a page on Facebook.com and a channel on YouTube at www.youtube.com/ostigov/. Another instance appears in our use of "mashups". Mashups are on the search results pages of Science Accelerator, Science.gov, and WorldWideScience.org, and are where external sources of information, in this case from Wikipedia and EurekAlert!, are provided as a service to the user for help with additional background information or with the ability to further study their topic.
Internally, OSTI has found the benefits of Web 2.0 techniques and technology to be a tremendous boon to our organization. An example of a Web 2.0 way to facilitate communication, information sharing and collaboration inside of OSTI is with our Technology Wiki. Our software developers, system administrators, and product managers have all found the Technology Wiki to be a valuable tool for internal communications of technical projects, as well as serving as a repository for technical documentation related to these projects. Many product managers and others from the organization at large have also benefited from a program called the "23 Things"--originally developed for the library world and now tweaked for an OSTI audience--staff use this internal program to engage in learning and exploring the world of Web 2.0 via 23 exercises. This program is increasing internal collaboration and information sharing, as well as serving to stimulate ideas for new functionalities and capabilities at OSTI.
As OSTI flows in the Web 2.0 stream, applying and offering various techniques and technologies, we simultaneously go full steam ahead implementing future forward ideas to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and the acceleration of science. OSTI has a strong sixty-plus years of delivering science information to the people and we know the importance of being a fluid organization able to break new ground and utilize new tools and technology. For we understand the importance of "...facilitating communication, information sharing, interoperability, and collaboration....", but we see Web 2.0 as not the 'final frontier' as it were, but more as the 'next frontier', with many more just around the bend.