Defragmentation – the latest meeting

The third meeting of what began with the fragmentation /death on the CILIP LinkedIn Group last August was held on Tuesday 31 May.  The first two meetings, the second of which I wrote about on 24 February, were invitation only, but this one was open to all, and attracted over 70 people.  It was hosted by the British Computer Society and opened with a welcome from BCS’s President, Jim Norton.  Then Conrad Taylor, one of the organisers, set the tone by quoting from Sue Myburgh’s PhD thesis on the future of the information professional.  (Sue is happy for people to email her for copies – sue.myburgh@unisa.edu.au.) Mark Field, who started the whole thing off, sketched in the background and Nicola Franklin, the third of the organisers, explained her involvement which came from seeing the narrow view of what the profession was about that so many of the new professionals she interviewed as a recruiter, a siloed approach which often continued through their careers.

Conrad stressed that one of the key elements of the meeting was the opportunity to talk to people from other organisations, and asked representatives from some of the many represented to briefly describe them.  There were contributions from BCS, CILIP, IRM, BIALL, KIDMM, ISKO UK, SLA Europe – and NetIKX, of course.  In my two minutes I explained that NetIKX covers a very wide spread of information professionals – and others who wouldn’t describe themselves that way but are still interested in many of the topics we discuss.  We then spent time in our small groups to discuss the six questions that had been posed.  (You can find these and much else in the wiki that has been set up to support all this.) Throughout there was a constant stream of Tweets on the topic, both from those at the meeting and from others who were following the #infodefrag hash tag.  One striking one was from someone who pointed out that they belonged to no organisations but used social media to keep in touch – which was how they had found out about the meeting and come along!

I’m not sure than we really managed to answer any of the questions but it did produce some very interesting and lively discussions – and more questions.  There was also an intriguing argument that diversity is fragmentation turned upside down and we should celebrate diversity.  We then went on to consider how those present and the organisations they represent can do to move things on to ensure the information professions can survive as a community.  There is considerable support for the idea of an information charter and manifesto.  We need to articulate the value of what we do, and for this we need stories – and there was a great one about the IMF.  We also need to describe a core of competencies, and to link together the common and transferable standards that organisations like BCS and CILIP have already defined.  Mark Field suggested the production of an annual report, “The state of the information profession this year” to set out our achievements and raise our profile.

So what next?  The liaison group will continue, developing the wiki as a resource – so do check it out, and hope to involve other people to work on the action points that Nicola identified in a series of tweets

  • create a repository of stories that show value of information professionals
  • work on a core competency statement, and look at common professional  standards in the associations
  • get information groups to agree to work more together, eg joint meetings, joint training
  • produce annual report on ‘ the state of information profession this year’ with logos of all info groups in the back

NetITX is committed to working with this project, because we feel it is so much in keeping with what NetIKX is about, bringing everyone who works in information together whatever their job title or starting point whenever there are topics of general interest to learn about and skills and experience to share.  We would love to hear from you – your comments of the six questions, your thoughts about what we should be doing – email me at info@netikx.org.

For more on this, see the wiki, James Mullan’s detailed report on his blog,  Nicola Franklin’s discussion of key points and Val Skelton’s summary

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