Information Dissemination
New Digital Opportunities
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IMARK
Investing in Information for Development
Information Dissemination
New Digital Opportunities
© FAO 2005
Information Dissemination
New Digital Opportunities
Learning Objectives
At the end of this lesson you will:
be aware of the relationship between
audience, content, format and media;
identify the advantages and disadvantages
of digital media for information
dissemination;
recognize some of the issues involved in
converting existing print materials to digital
formats, and in creating new digital content.
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New Digital Opportunities
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Introduction
If you wish to improve your information services by taking
advantage of the new information technologies, some of the key
questions to ask are:
SHOULD WE GO DIGITAL OR NOT?
What are the issues
to consider for
making this choice?
Do we have the
budget to cover all
the related costs?
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New Digital Opportunities
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Relationship between audience, content, format and media
To answer, it is important to remember that:
AUDIENCES’ NEEDS
DETERMINE
CONTENT, FORMAT, AND MEDIUM
Therefore, your products and services must:
provide content that your audience(s) want and need (text, data images).
be presented in formats that your audience(s) can understand.
be in media which your audience(s) can access.
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New Digital Opportunities
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New digital approaches
Once you have made sure that your
content is aligned with your audience(s),
you should find out the ways to
disseminate it effectively.
You should:
• know the range of media available,
their potential, their requirements and
their drawbacks; then,
• make sure that the medium you
choose suits your audiences’ needs.
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New Digital Opportunities
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New digital approaches
Here are a few examples of various types of traditional products and
services that can be offered in digital media:
News services
Reference works
Periodical publications
Corporate document
collections
Management
information systems
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New Digital Opportunities
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Advantages of digital media
Before making a decision, you must evaluate the advantages and
disadvantages of each of the available digital technologies.
Here are some of the advantages:
VERSATILITY
INCREASED
STORAGE CAPACITY
INTERACTIVITY
INCREASED FLOW OF
INFORMATION
COSTEFFECTIVENESS
REDUCED DELIVERY TIME
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New Digital Opportunities
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Disadvantages of digital media
And here are some disadvantages of digital media, which should be
taken into account:
EASE OF
REPRODUCTION
TRAINING OF
STAFF
NEED FOR
UPGRADES
HIGH INITIAL AND
MAINTENANCE COSTS
RE-DEFINITION OF ROLES
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New Digital Opportunities
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Several options
Once you have made the decision to use digital media, you have
several choices:
to repackage old content;
to create new content in the selected digital
format(s); or
In most cases, you will have to choose both options.
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New Digital Opportunities
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Repackaging old content
When you decide to repackage old information, there are
three main large categories of issues to consider:
1. SELECTION
CRITERIA
2. STAFF-RELATED
ISSUES
3. GENERAL
COSTS
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New Digital Opportunities
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Repackaging old content: selection criteria
How do you select the documents to be put in digital format?
Here are some useful criteria:
Validity of information
Volume of information
Appropriateness to your
audience’s needs and abilities
Ability to repackage
in different ways
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New Digital Opportunities
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Repackaging old content: staff-related issues
Does your organization have enough trained personnel to manage a
conversion process? It is important to consider:
How will the process be organized?
Who will be in charge?
What will be the roles of your current
publications officers, librarians, and
computer services staff?
Information Dissemination
New Digital Opportunities
Repackaging old content: costs
Do you have the budget required for:
equipment (e.g. scanners, computers and storage devices);
software (for scanning, Optical Character Recognition, word
processing, spell-checking, image management);
human resources (staff time and skills);
the intended size of the project?
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New Digital Opportunities
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Repackaging old content
The typical steps to repackage old content in digital format are:
1. Select the documents to be included in your digitising scheme
2. Secure copyrights permissions
3. Scan and process into machine-readable form the hardcopies which are not in
digital format
4. Convert the documents to a suitable format (HTML or MS Word) integrating text
and images
5. Tag the chapters, paragraphs and images of the digital documents to enable the
different parts of a document to be independently selected and displayed.
6. Organize the digital documents into a structured digital library assigning metadata
(such as keywords, subject categories, etc)
7. Build the digital library or collection into your in-house library database
8. Distribute the documents either on diskettes and/or CD-Rom and/or the web
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New Digital Opportunities
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Create new content in digital format
Your organization probably already creates
much of its new content in digital
formats.
Most of the issues to keep in mind in this
case, are similar to the ones we have
already considered:
information quality,
staff, and
costs.
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New Digital Opportunities
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Create new content in digital format
Here is a basic outline of the production process for a digital document:
1. Define the final output medium of your digital documents
2. Define standards that should be consistently applied in-house.
3. Identify the necessary software and other tools that your staff need
in order to apply these standards, manage the workflow, and ensure
efficient storage/access/search.
4. Specify the key roles of the various staff/team members in charge
of the various tasks in your workflow.
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New Digital Opportunities
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Conclusions
To conclude, let’s review the basic steps for the design
and implementation of a dissemination plan:
Analysis of the information needs of your various
audiences.
Assessment of your current products/services and
your dissemination services.
Examination of the market, with particular focus on
competitors and partners.
Understanding the relationship between audiences,
content, digital formats, and digital media.
Setting priorities.
Assessing costs and benefits.
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New Digital Opportunities
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Summary
Audiences’ needs determine content, format and medium. This is
particularly important when deciding the appropriate dissemination
method.
There is a full range of new digital media for information dissemination.
In order to make a choice, you need to know not only the potential, but
also the requirements and the disadvantages of each medium.
Once you have made the decision to go digital, you may have : A) to
repackage old content; B) to create new content in the selected digital
format(s). In both cases, you should consider three areas of analysis: A)
selection criteria; B) staff-related issues; C) general costs.
Also, it is important to notice that the process of creating a document
has changed, and therefore changes have to be introduced in the
production workflow.
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new digital media