Looking To The Past To Predict The Future

developments in wireless technology

 

On Monday Tony Hirst and myself co-facilitated a workshop on “Preparing for the Future: Technological Challenges and Beyond” which preceded the ILI 2015 conference. In the workshop we explored ways in which librarians could help to identify technological developments which may affect the range of services libraries provide and how broader trends may accelerate or hinder such developments.

In the workshop we discussed a number of techniques which may be useful in providing more flexible approaches to predicting the impact of technical developments, including asking questions such as “What did you notice for the first time?” and exploring answers to the question “Did you try the library?“.

We also discussed ways of playing with time, such as the describing the history of technologies in reverse, such as taking the recent EU decision on illegality of the “Safe Harbor” agreement and explore how that could lead to social media services such as Facebook being used in only 21 universities by 2005, with Mark Zuckerberg officially scrapping Facebook in October 2003 and then starting a course at Harvard University. Exploring possible reasons, such as loss of advertising income through changes in technologies, political developments and user hostility towards failures to make adequate tax payments, may be useful in identifying relevant trends which could occur in the future.

It is appropriate to highlight such approaches on #BackToFutureDay, with the BBC featuring articles on “Back to the Future II: What did it get right and wrong?” and, on their sports pages asking, with tongue in cheek, “How will sport look in another 30 years?

At the workshop we also discussed how we can learn from conferences: not only from the content of talks but also from the titles of talks and how they may be groups together. I pointed out that the ILI 2015 conference was featuring a number of talks on use of video in a variety of contexts which, it seemed to me, indicate a newish trend in the library sector.

The ILI conference was launched in 2000 and I have attended – and spoken at – all bar one of the conferences; the exception being ILI 2008 when I was speaking at a conference held at the National Library of Singapore. ILI conference web sites are available for a number of recent ILI conferences but no, I think, all 15 conferences. However since all of my slides are available online, I am able to view the titles and abstracts of my talks and the slides I used. I’ve provided links to the materials in the following table.

A number of things occur to me looking at this list:

  • In 2001 I described Jisc-funded work on “Advertising on Your Web Site” which investigated whether adverting revenue on Jisc service web sites could be used to fund the services. Following the dot.com crash around the turn of the century it was decided not to explore this possibility. It’s interesting that the more severe economic crash in 2008 didn’t lead to a revival of interest.
  • ILI 2002 saw interest in mobile devices, in particular dedicated ebook readers and PDAs. How important would the Rocket ebook reader and the Palm PDA be for librarians, we discussed. That seems such a long time ago!
  • The talk on “Beyond E-mail! Wikis, Blogs and Social Networking Software” at ILI 2004 could have been entitled “An Introduction to Web 2.0” – except for the fact that the term “Web 2.0” wasn’t popularized until late 2004! But it is interesting that the conference organisers felt that this area was of relevance to libraries in 2004.

Of course a richer insight into the trends relevant to Internet librarians would require access to the complete programme for the 15 ILI conferences. For me this is a reason why it is important to preserve access to resources such as conference programmes, with access being open to anyone with an interest in what we could refer to as “Internet archeology“.

Happy #backtothefutureday!

No. Event Title Link Notes
1 ILI 2000 Finding Resources on Your Web Site [Link] Talk
 2 Electronic Magazines: Issues in Implementation [Link] Joint talk with Bernadette Daly
3 ILI 2001 Publishing Web Magazines, e-Journals & Webzines [Link] Half day workshop with Marieke  Napier
4 WebWizards’ Roundtable [Link] Panel
5 Beyond Design: Advertising on Your Web Site [Link] Talk
6 ILI 2002 New Devices And The Web [Link] Joint talk with Helen Petrie
7 Benchmarking Of Library Web Sites [Link] Joint talk with Penny Garrod
8 Building 21st Century Web Sites [Link] Talk in exhibition
9 ILI 2003 HTML Is Dead! A Web Standards Update [Link] Talk
10 Web Site Accessibility: Too Difficult To Implement? [Link] Panel session
11 ILI 2004 Quality Assurance For Web Sites [Link] Half day workshop
12 Beyond E-mail! Wikis, Blogs and Social Networking Software [Link] Talk
13 Optimising Technology in Libraries [Link] Panel session
14 ILI 2005 A Holistic Approach To Web Usability, Accessibility And Interoperability [Link] Half-day workshop
15 Folksonomies – The Sceptic’s View [Link] Panel session
16 Facing The Challenges Of A Standards-Based Approach To Web Development. [Link] Talk in “Using Open Standards and Open Source Software” track
17 Email Must Die! [Link] Talk in “Digital Tools for Collaboration” track
18 ILI 2006 Web 2.0 and Library 2.0: Addressing Institutional Barriers [Link] Talk in “A101 Setting The Stage for 2.0” track
19 Reflections On Personal Experiences In Using Wikis [Link] Talk in”A103 Wikis and Social Software” track
20 ILI 2007 Using Blogs Effectively Within Your Library [Link] Half-day workshop with Kara Jones
21 The Blogging Librarian: Avoiding Institutional Inertia [Link] Talk in “A105 – Blogging Inertia and 2.0 Scepticism”  track
22 ILI 2009 Using Blogs, Microblogs and Social Networks Effectively Within Your Library [Link] Half-day workshop with Marieke Guy
23 Standards Are Like Sausages: Exploiting the Potential of Open Standards [Link] Talk in “B105 Open Standards” track
24 Top Technology Trends for Libraries and Information Professionals [Link] Panel session
25 ILI 2010 Effective Use of the Social Web in Organisations [Link] Half-day workshop with Ann Chapman
26 Monitoring and Maximising Organisational Impact [Link] Talk in “C102 Resource Management” track
27 ILI 2011 What’s on the Technology Horizon? [Link] Talk in “A101 Technology Developments and Trends” track
28 ILI 2012 Making Sense of the Future [Link] Talk in “A101: Future Technology: Stay Ahead, Stay Agile” track
29 What Does The Evidence Tell Us About Institutional Repositories? [Link] Talk with Jenny Delasalle in “B203 Evidence and Impact” track.
30 ILI 2013 Future Technologies and Their Applications [Link] One-day workshop with Tony Hirst
31 Digital Life Beyond the Institution [Link] Talk in “A104 Being smart with technology – creating something from nothing” track
32 ILI 2014 What are the Major Technology Trends that will Impact Library Services and their Users? [Link] Talk in “B101 Trends in Technology” track
33 ILI 2015 Preparing for the Future: Technological Challenges and Beyond [Link] One-day workshop

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