About a year ago, I had the pleasure to observe and work with a group of new media researchers from a variety of disciplines, including the UNLV Journalism School, who came together to research the Consumer Electronics show, trade shoes/conventions, and technology. These scholars had proposed an interesting methodology of "swarm" scholarship (spontaneous, "in the moment", data collection) combined with a hybrid publication of a monograph and an evolving digital component (a wiki) to complement the content. This was the first time I was introduced to the idea, and shortly thereafter I was asked to collaborate with some of my UNLV colleagues on a book chapter for Library 2.0 Initiatives in Academic Libraries
using many of the same techniques.
While writing about Library 2.0 was exciting, it was equally as intriguing to be part of a new type of dynamic scholarship that involved not only the research, writing and editing, but also continuing updates and status reports on projects that, at this minute, are evolving and growing. There were times in the past year that I became burned out on Web 2.0. I felt like it was everywhere and unescapable; a trend that was going to be worn out by the time the book hit the publisher. But, the beauty of the hybrid project, is that the projects detailed in the various chapters are confined to the print their authors composed last year! They can be modified and reported upon as they mutate into new initiative, as they are evaluated, and as they become integrated services in the library. The print publication is available from ALA and the wiki will follow the projects through the next two years.
This type of hybrid research presents all sorts of interesting challenges and opportunities for libraries. How do we assist with this new type of research (topics that are a moving target or require timeliness and nimbleness, collaboration and new technological tools)? How does our consumption of it change (if we can't just wait for it to be printed, cataloged, shelved and circulated)? And how do we preserve this new type of information resource into the future (is it ever really "finished"...)? I, for one, am very heartened by these two projects as they seem to give life and vitality to the somewhat stodgy and oppressive "traditional" world of publishing.