Newsline April 2018

Letter From the Editor

Achieving a goal is equal parts determining what that goal is, aligning resources to accomplish the goal, and then working hard to achieve it.  One of the challenges with leading an organization as diverse and overarching as NISO is identifying what goals should be the focus of our attention and then prioritizing those goals.

Technology is a mercurial foundation upon which to build a strategic plan. New technologies are developed and deployed all the time. Trends in development and approaches to implementation wax and wane.  What is ascendant one day could be consigned to the waste bin the next month, only to be resurrected years later. These movements make strategic planning ever more complicated for a standards development organization. Short of bringing out the crystal ball, the leadership can only do its best to prioritize and work toward achieving goals for the organization and our community.

Fortunately, NISO has established a structure where several teams of people are involved in establishing those goals across a variety of domains. We maintain a set of leadership groups, Topic Committees, that oversee the work of standards development and management of working groups.  These committees’ main charges are to launch new initiatives and ensure that working groups are effectively getting their work done. They also keep an eye on our legacy portfolio of long-established and stable standards to ensure the incorporation of any newly-identified issues or concerns.  Importantly, the Topic Committees are responsible for leading, in a strategic sense, NISO’s future development work. The groups discuss horizon issues and changes in technology or policy that could impact standards development.  Ideally, they spend about twenty percent of their time forward-focused: launching new projects and building on the NISO community’s collective future.  Over the past few months, the Topic Committees have been focusing this time allotment on the development of an overview of the technology, trends and issues facing their respective portfolios of information distribution issues. 

Last week, NISO published a strategic planning document developed by the NISO Architecture and Topic Committees that outlines the priorities for standards development in the coming years.  Last fall, our Board of Directors approved a reorganization of the Topic Committees and their respective standards portfolios.  This next step in that reorganization process will help to focus our attention on the areas that are most likely to influence the broadest swath of NISO’s constituents. The NISO 2018 Strategic Directions document is available on the NISO website. Among the topics that the Information Content & Curation Topic Committee identified as priorities are the integration of open access content, the evolving role of repositories, preservation issues, and content formats.  For the Information Discovery & Interchange Topic Committee the key priorities identified were: transparency in discovery, discovery implications of open access, discovery of non-traditional content, data quality and exchange, the user experience, and the increasing use of APIs for systems interoperability.  The Information Policy & Analysis Topic Committee identified the business models developing around open access and value added services around free content, the granularity of content identification, and integrating legacy content into new services or products, metrics for open content, and the connections between content and research data.

I encourage you all to read this document and consider the implications for NISO and your own engagement and opinions in these areas of work.  We welcome your feedback on the document’s elements as well as your own ideas about what NISO’s priorities should be.  In addition, members of the Architecture Committee will join me next week during our monthly open teleconference to discuss the document and our plans to implement some of the ideas in it.  I hope you can join us.


Todd Carpenter
Executive Director, NISO