STEP ONE: STOP CALLING THEM DATABASES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A friend of mine has said many times that she believes we in libraryland need to stop calling databases databases, and I have always agreed, but I have not done anything about it. I haven't written about it, talked about it, blogged it, mentioned it, or thought about it any more than that.
When I hear the word "database," and if I didn't know what it was, it conjures up for me some really complicated spreadsheet system or, well, database, that is way too complicated for me to figure out and use, and that is TOTALLY BORING - not exciting or attractive to me in anyway, doesn't sound useful to me and doesn't make me want to use it or care to find out how to use it at all!
Well, yesterday this flew out of my mouth (or my fingers rather) in a twit over on twitter when someone mentioned they were changing their database descriptions to try to at least better reflect what they were to try to get their students to use them.... I put out my thought that if we really want to become more "2.0" and more valued and user-friendly, we need to stop calling databases, databases and do it now! More like do it yesterday!
This created a nice little chat discussion on twitter about what we SHOULD call them and that led to another nice little discussion about what they really are and what the users think they are and want to call them.
I want to thank Rochelle, KGS, Pete Bromberg, Library_Chic, cindi, wanderingeyre, awd, and everyone else for that twit yesterday. I am using the verb to twit as in a chat, to chat here ...
This was also a great example of a nice use of twitter.... a quick IM-like conversation between a few people that was captured in the twitter program for me to go back and look at today.
It wasn't an IM session - that in most cases would be between two people and wouldn't necessarily automatically have been captured for me to refer to today. It wasn't a chat room, it wasn't e-mails, it was a quick conversation among some professionals that was saved as it happened. We commented back and forth while doing other things on this topic - in the 140 character limits of twitter - so we had to be brief and concise - no waste! I thought it was great!
Today I could go back and refer to all the suggestions and thoughts and questions and compose this post over here on Blogger.
So, to get back to the issues of the databases.... Really now, what can we call them so that people
1. Want to use them
2. Get the idea of what they are
3. Don't be made to feel stupid (see the excellent post on this over at Tinfoil Racoon's blog)
4. Don't feel intimidated or turned-off by them
5. Find out the value of them
The twitter conversation went something like this:
Databases are mentioned.
I say we need to stop calling them that.
Someone says, then what do we call them? "...those article thingies?" *
We decide to "brainstorm" this
Someone says "Find good stuff with these search tools"
I say "yeah, search tools, electronic resources - still "eh" on those"
Someone adds, "search tools for [discipline(s)"]?
This causes me to start wondering if the databases are search tools or the resources within them? "but is the database the search tool or the gold in the mine!?"
Another adds, " "library resources"? "resources to use in your research"? "
Then, of course, we got a little silly with:
"crap that your professor wants you to use so just do it already"?
And then in response to "tool" vs. "gold mine" we got to
"The trick is the meta-search of multiple indexes and then cross-linking to the full text in their respective happy places "
Which resulted in
"tool to find happy place of needed articles" ;-)
"that's the problem. Catalog = search engine, inventory control, or lipstuck pig? Database = search or result or full-text?"
At one point, the brilliant KGS characteristically asked, "why don't we ask the user?" and
someone replied, "*has* anyone asked the user what to call it?"
Then a few "gasp! ask the user!? oh no!" comments and jokes twitted by and then we continued questioning "well what is the database TO THE USER, not TO US!?"
Someone comments that their kids say the databases are websites, "database, electronic resource, etc="website" "
Which gets a reaction of "knee-jerk reaction "no it's not!!"...but really, isn't a database just an iteration of a website? at least to the user? "
We get a little silly again:
"goldmines of knowledge" is suggested
"Goldmines of knowledge = databases, I love it. Is hilarious and descriptive"
"what to call databases: Stuff you need to convince your teacher you used more than wikipedia "
"Infopools, factipiles, report'o'calls" (some of my personal faves!)
"Put on your hipboots, kids and wade into our authoritative, full-text Sludgepits o' Knowledge"
Okay, okay we were getting a little out-of-hand toward the end, but you get the idea....
So, c'mon everyone: What are we going to call these things that are expensive, incredibly powerful, valuable, under appreciated, under marketed and UNDERUSED!?
I KNOW we can do better than databases.
STEP 2: Get everyone on board calling them by their new name........
* I have decided to not cite who said what in case anyone wouldn't want their terrific twits shared with the world - I am not trying to withhold credit, but protecting against exposing anyone - if you want to claim any of those - go ahead - and/or tell me and I'll give you credit where credit is due! ;-)