Since announcing OCLC’s web-scale management services strategy, it seems that the term “web-scale” (or “webscale” depending on your editing preferences) has been catching on a bit.
At first, some users diluted the meaning that Lorcan Dempsey had labored to establish in the library space. And I will continue to argue that web-scale in the context of library automation–especially management systems–is a major sea-change. 5000 transactions per second may be no great shakes for Google, Amazon, and Twitter, but in library automation, we’ve never seen anything like this before.
Then web-scale began to catch on a bit, and I thought the library technology lexicon was beginning to change, but the more I saw and heard it used, the more I feared that we might be getting away from it’s original meaning.
Then I see that Mark Dahl has articulated so clearly what my colleagues and I have been discussing…what the library community in general has been discussing in many forums. While experimenting with metaphors, trying to explain a major initiative in one sentence, and living in powerpoint (all while simultaneously keeping up with a massive product development effort), I was struck by one simple turn of phase:
“it gets better the more people use it”
What a great way to sum things up. While I’ve been grappling with analogies, cloud computing, the web-scale landscape, and library sea-changes (that’s four metaphors in one sentence for those of you keeping track), Mark, I think, gets it right. The only extension that I would add to Mark’s distinctions about Web-scale is that they apply equally to library management systems and not just discovery-to-delivery.
We’ve begun testing of the web-scale circulation component. Print and licensed acquisitions and license management are soon to follow. I can’t wait for more people to start using these services because I know they will only get better.