Thursday, November 17, 2005

"The Future of Libraries: Beginning the Great Tradition"

The University Librarian ran across the article "The Future of Libraries: Beginning the Great Tradition" by Thomas Frey, Executive Director of the DaVinci Institute. I've hardly even skimmed it and I'm posting it here as a reminder to myself than anything else. The piece is by a librarian for librarians and it even ends with a "Recommendations for Libraries." The article identifies "ten key trends that are affecting the development of the next generation library." (Frey notes that these are not the only trends, "but ones that have been selected to give clear insight into the rapidly changing technologies and equally fast changing mindset of library patrons." They are:

  1. Communication systems are continually changing the way people access information

  2. All technology ends. All technologies commonly used today will be replaced by something new.

  3. We haven’t yet reached the ultimate small particle for storage. But soon.

  4. Search Technology will become increasingly more complicated

  5. Time compression is changing the lifestyle of library patrons

  6. Over time we will be transitioning to a verbal society

  7. The demand for global information is growing exponentially

  8. The Stage is being set for a new era of Global Systems

  9. We are transitioning from a product-based economy to an experience based economy

  10. Libraries will transition from a center of information to a center of culture

I'm particularly drawn to item 6:
Keyboards remain as our primary interface between people and electronic information even though inventors have long felt there must be a better way. The days of the keyboard are numbered. As mentioned earlier, all technology ends and soon we will be witnessing the end of the keyboard era.

Dr William Crossman, Founder/Director of the CompSpeak 2050 Institute for the Study of Talking Computers and Oral Cultures, predicts that as we say goodbye to keyboards we will begin the transition to a verbal society. He also predicts that by 2050 literacy will be dead.

While the accuracy of his dates and the wholesale transition from literacy to a verbal society may be debatable, there will undoubtedly be a strong trend towards verbal information. Computers will become more human-like with personalities, traits, and other characteristics that will give us the sense of being in a room with other humans.
As is probably obvious to those who know me, I don't buy Crossman's predictions, but Frey's point that we're relying more and more upon verbal interfaces and verbal communication is clear (can anyone forget Rich Rice's C&W 2001 town hall presentation on sound, sex, and mayhem?).

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