An Old Story with a New Twist

I have been busy getting the Rochester household ready for our new addition and I have neglected to read the news from library land. I saw a few posts pop up about Swift when they first popped up, but I did not read them. I think maybe I should have because I would have seen that Swift, which has been denounced as a waste in different ways by many people I respect, was created by the Otter Group.

This Otter Group.

I believe in giving people second chances, but it seems to me that this company has learned nothing in the two years since they were last on my radar. I suppose this just goes to show you that companies will pay money for anything. Crap, libraries and our organizations do it all the time. I know not all online tools are “free” but Karen makes a great argument about what we would like our organizations to be spending money on and this is not it.

I can see Swift being useful at a conference where the attendees and presenters are not Internet or technology savvy, but that is the target audience of ITI. People at CiL have some clue as to what is going on in the world. We already have a way to share the things Swift wants from us.

I want to know why ITI felt the need to use a product like Swift. How did they get bamboozled into that decision? Was it simply because the hive that usually exists around the conference (via Twitter, blogs, IM,etc.) can not be contained and thus can not be profited from? This whole discussion reminds me of a quote I use in presentations to talk about transparency and reputation:

“The reputation economy creates an incentive to be more open, not less. Since Internet commentary is inescapable, the only way to influence it is to be part of it… Putting out more evasion or PR puffery won’t work, because people will either ignore it and not link to it – or worse, pick the spin apart and enshrine those criticisms high on your Google list of life.” —Clive Thompson

We, the librarians in the Internet Tubes, see through things fairly well because we are smart and often like to read the fine print. We spend our days looking for new things to serve the public better by saving money, not making it. Please do not be surprised when we look your expensive horse in the mouth and tell you that the reliable and cheap pony we already own works fine because we see only a shiny toy with no substance that you are offering. Beware of things that only glitter.

–Jane, ITI, we already have transportation to the Ball, we do not need another ride. Now can we talk about wifi?