My Take on SWIFT

Many of the librarians that I admire have chimed in on the ITI/Computers in Libraries/Otter Group debacle. I’ve read over lots of the documentation provided, including the FAQ that was mailed out to attempt to assuage our concerns.

On the surface, the idea of a consolidated site for information on the conference seems like a good idea. So why the enormous pushback from the liberati? Several reasons:

The first is the one that David Lee King and others pointed out…the licensing agreement for SWIFT was onerous, to say the least. While they have said the agreement is changing, there is no evidence of said changes yet.

The second is more substantial. It harkens back to Tim Spaulding’s discussion of the difference between tags in LibraryThing and Amazon. Why did the tags in LibraryThing work, and in Amazon they did not? Because the tags in LibraryThing are my tags, they are your tags, they are tags that are used to describe things that are important to you, things we/you own. They are personal.

The tags in Amazon are not…they are potentially things you own, but they are not personal in the same way. There is a low ownership consideration with Amazon…as Tim points out, they don’t even have a way to export your tags.

SWIFT, in its way, is similar. It is a service asking for users….not users asking for a service. It is not personal, it is not needed, and it is not ours. Some of this is an issue with the method in which SWIFT was presented (poor marketing) and some of it is simply that it is a tool that no one needed.

Identify a need, then present a tool. Not the other way around.


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