Top Technology Trends at ALA10 Part One: Current Technology
Monique Sendze and Jason Griffey at the Top Technology Trends panel. Photo by John Blyberg.
Maybe it was the cavernous ballroom, but this year’s ALA10 Top Technology Trends panel seemed to have the biggest attendance I’ve seen. It was also the most information-dense, so much so that I’ll split the coverage into three parts. The Trendsters had three minutes to project trends for each of current, imminent, and long-term time lines.
Part One of my coverage is a wrap-up of their current trends:
John Blyberg kicked off the panel, talking about convergence and how content delivery is not one-dimensional but also contains, for example a twitter “back channel” of discussion surrounding the content itself. It’s users—and not manufacturers—who find ways to use these media products in new ways by converging around one format to fulfill a variety of needs. For example, we use the same tools and platforms for both business and social communication. While convergent experiences are traditionally less effective than their component parts, hardware like the iPad will change that.
Lorcan Dempsey offered mobile technology as his current trend and described four areas where we need to change the way we think about content and delivery of content in order to make mobile work. First, we need to think about “atomizing and reconfiguring” the data we’re providing to patrons so that, for example, public transportation data can be delivered alongside details about library events. Second, the interplay between the physical and virtual world—libraries should be, for example, looking at ways to offer information about the environments in which they serve patrons in the physical environment itself, through tools like QR codes. Third, we need to look at how to introduce location into mobile services. And fourth, we should be looking at what he called “microcoordination” or the ad hoc way in which we plan. Our physical spaces should accommodate microcoordination in the same way that Starbucks provides a near-ubiquitous meetup spot.
Jason Griffey talked about the trend of separating content from delivery interface. He noted that libraries have already been doing this with their reference databases, but being aware of “information sans interface” will become even more important as touch-based interfaces like the iPad gain hold.
Monique Sendze predicted that handheld devices will continue to proliferate and make their way deeper and deeper into institutions. However, it’s not just about the hardware; patrons and librarians themselves will be looking more and more at innovative software applications for their libraries. One possible application is an Apple Store–like point of sale, where library staff can check out books to patrons from anywhere, and patrons won’t rely on circulation desks or self-check machines.
Cindi Trainor talked about libraries’ push to transform their business models from one focused on delivery of what’s in the library to delivery of all content. Libraries can expand their by indexing e-book catalogs and providing search results within their OPAC for titles they don’t necessarily own but could acquire on the spot.
Joan Frye Williams discussed librarians’ position as incubators for the so-called “new creatives,” or hyper-local, community-based startups that need a place to work, collaborate, and produce. While librarians are used to delivering content in an institutionalized, “clean” way, they’ll have to change their approach to deal with the “mess of creativity.” To do this, she said, librarians need to “stop being the grocery store and start being the kitchen.”
Check back soon for Parts Two and Three.