Workflow is an intermediate consumer

I have been using the following contrast in presentations for a while. This is to make a distinction between library services – or any other service for that matter – in a pre-network age, and such services now.
Then: people were prepared to build their workflows around library services.
Now: the library must be prepared to build its services around people’s workflows.
This is to try to capture succinctly a recurrent theme in these pages. This shift is because people are increasingly building their workflows – or learnflows, or researchflows. … – on the network. In some cases through a bricolage of desktop and network tools (e.g. toolbars, rss feeds, social networking sites, search engines, etc); in some cases through prefabricated workflow environments (e.g. course management systems, …). Where resources are not easily available to those workflows, they may not be used.
Of course, putting library services in those flows is not straightforward …. It does mean that the library needs to think about ‘intermediate consumers‘ – those workflows and applications that may sit between the library and its users (search engines, RSS aggregators, course management systems, search engines, social networking sites, cell phones, etc).
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One thought on “Workflow is an intermediate consumer”

  1. Well said. I especially like that you added in so many examples since very few of my community college students have even heard of RSS or customizable toolbars, which seem to be the most cited examples.

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