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By Scott Brown


As researchers, we are continually learning about new tools, exploring new topical areas and finding new sources of information - subscription, free, or otherwise. Traditionally difficult-to-find information is increasingly becoming accessible. 


Rachel Bates Wilfahrt, in her guest editorial for the FreePint Report: Research - Part 1 (Information Practice), notes that “one of the greatest things about working as a researcher is continually learning about new tools and exploring new topical areas, especially ones that have previously been challenging.” This resonates with me as a researcher, and I agree that traditionally difficult-to-find information is increasingly becoming accessible.  

This issue of Information Practice seems to be about the increasing accessibility of information. Last issue, my editorial talked about data mining, and since then we’ve published the FreePint Report on Monitoring and Mining Social Media and News, which brings together several articles on the topic. As Aileen Marshall observes, social media is providing unique and valuable information, but also requires new approaches to finding and understanding that information.

Speaking of information that used to be harder to find, Perrin Kerravala looks at private equity (PE) and venture capital (VC) information sources. In addition to covering subscription and free sources, Perrin points out Palico, which profiles over 54,000 PE professionals and 5,400 general partners. Sources like Palico provide a new way to find PE and VC leads and contacts – something that would have been the exclusive realm of competitive intelligence and primary research activities in the not-so-distant past.

While social sources can be quite helpful, James Mullan rightly reminds us of some of the potential pitfalls. In the area of collaboration tools, James asks, is your in-house collaboration tool masking a failure in hiring the right people for the right job? There is always the danger, too, of people making grave missteps via social media tools. While the streams of social media and information coming out of the Olympic games were remarkable, James highlights some of the negative aspects – including the Australian swimmer who blamed social media for her failure to win a Gold medal in the 100m swimming final.

But not you – you’ll take away the Gold with this issue of Information Practice! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Feel free to forward this free newsletter to your colleagues and invite them to register to receive their own copy at I welcome your comments.


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Scott Brown is the owner of Social Information Group (, an independent information practice that focuses on the effective use of social networking tools for sharing and finding information. His forthcoming book, "Social Information: Gaining Competitive and Business Information Using Social Media Tools" will be published in late 2012. He has worked with libraries, Fortune 500 companies, startups, government organisations and individuals to help them understand and effectively use these tools for their clients, and to drive increased visibility and return on information resources. He has over 20 years of experience in library and information organisations, in public, academic and corporate settings. Scott is a regular speaker nationally on many areas of information work. He is also a professional coach.

You can follow him on Twitter at @socialinfo.

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