INLS 740: Environmental Scanning

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A digital library project is a large undertaking, into which figures a wide range of technologies and processes. These technologies and processes are constantly changing, as research and development progresses. It is a challenge to get up to speed on all of these technologies and processes in the first place: I could argue that that is the purpose of this course. It is equally a challenge to keep up to date with all of the changes to these technologies and processes. This assignment will distribute the task of keeping up to date.

For this assignment, working groups will conduct continuous environmental scanning in their particular area. Throughout the semester, each group should monitor a range of sources of information relevant to their scope of work: check websites, blogs, and news announcements; monitor user and developer forums; subscribe to listservs, RSS feeds, and Twitter accounts; etc. I would also encourage groups to actively participate in any venues to which users may contribute: pose questions on user forums, have conversations with organizations on Twitter, etc.

The information gathered from these venues should, naturally, inform each group's work. For this assignment, however, groups will digest this information and provide the class with brief reports about developments in their area. Each group will make at least three reports during the semester. More would be fine, of course, if there is especially interesting news to report. Due dates for this assignment are loose: since you presumably have no way to control what is in the news in the DL world, reports may be posted any time on or before the due date on the course calendar. These reports should be made as brief posts to the Discussion fora in Sakai.

A good example of an environmental scan in a library context is the Pattern Recognition report by OCLC. Your group's environmental scan need not be this formalized, and your report should not be this long. But this report provides a good example of the methodology used in environmental scanning.

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