Landscape and brandscape

Information landscape was a term used in various conversations some time ago to refer to the idea of a set of resources organized around user interests rather than around the characteristics of supply. For example, an information landscape might be a personalized selection of information resources delivered within a metasearch environment.

I imagine that one of the issues that has complicated the emergence of a more robust metasearch environment is that many providers are uncomfortable with being presented in somebody else's landscape. Especially if the presentation context of their own system has to disappear as they offer up results to a different interface through Z39.50 or a similar approach.

Brand is important. Providers want their value to be recognized. One approach we have seen is the incorporation of a logo in a result.

This is why after so many years of work, we still have an 'information brandscape', rather than an information landscape. Different user interfaces jostle for our attention, each with its own unused help screens and superfluous advanced features.

Perhaps this is a case where the interests of individual providers have overcome the interests of the overall user experience? This may be becoming clearer as we see the gravitational pull of Google, Yahoo, and Amazon, large consolidations of data with simple interfaces.

However, as Richard Wallis notes, libraries are now facing this issue themselves as they provide services into other environments.

Librarians have understood the value of what they do to enable the rest of humanity to identify, find, and get to the information they need, since Aristotle was a lad, and because they also kept the books they were appreciated for it. When this massive value-add for humanity is burred behind several web service calls and some non-library interface, that connection won't be so obvious. [panlibus]
It is becoming clearer that library services need to be integrated with various user environments. How much do they want to hold onto their 'brand' in how they are presented? Contributing to the 'information brandscape'? Or how much will they adapt to the 'landscape' in which they are presented?

Comments: 1

Apr 29, 2005
Migell Acosta

The ability to ditch our brand and contribute our resources to the information landscape may be another example wherein libraries have ceded control to commercial interests, this time the ILS vendors. Our holdings as well as digital archives are encapsulated in the ILS interface - in our case, SIRSI. Even thought we provide deep linking access to our collection through various partnerships, like Santa Monica's Environmental Programs Division, the user experiences a branded interface because that's the only interface our vendor provides/allows. As a matter of fact, I once got a call from their legal department when they discoverd I had stripped out their large and oafish copyright statement which they had chosen to display as a large, unwieldy graphic.