Thursday, 26 June 2008

Thing #23 Is this really the end? Or just the beginning

In 2007 Ross Dawson, an Australian business consultant who tracks different customs, devices, and institutions; put out what he calls his Extinction Timeline. Since then, this timeline has generated comment in both Australia and overseas. On his Extinction Timeline, Ross Dawson predicts that libraries will disappear in 2019. For details go to Is he right, and what does this have to do with Learning 23 Things?

The key, and probably the most critical, benefit of Learning 23 Things has been that it has introduced so many librarians to new and emerging technologies. As a result, it has allowed many librarians to see new and exciting ways of doing things. This is important, because the new technologies ARE been adopted by clients. If librarians don't adopt and adapt someone else will fill the vacuum, and libraries probably will be extinct by 2019.

Some thoughts:

The Internet, Web 2, web 3, and what ever happens in the future is disruptive. Taking a Schumpeterian view of these things, libraries need to recognise the Creative Destruction processes that come with these disruptive technologies. Building on the Schumpeterian view, Libraries also need to be much more entrepreneurial in the way they adopt technologies, adapt, and re-engineer services to meet the changing needs of clients without forgetting their key reasons for existing. Libraries also need to recognise that not only are we faced with more change, the change is also happening at a faster rate. We need to be better at playing with new technology, assessing it, using it, and not get to upset if it is out of date tomorrow and we have to move onto the next new thing. The days of leisurely change are over.

The sign that Learning 23 Things has been really success for the individual will be that they don't need to do another formal program like this. Instead, they will not only have learnt about new technologies, they will have be curious to continue to discover and learn, with and without, a formal Learning 2.0 / 3.0 or whatever programme.

Questions to ponder:

• In the digital age, what is the function of the library as a civic monument and public space; as an academic space, or a corporate learning centre?
• Will there be a role in the future for libraries as a public repository for books?
• What happens to our need for human interaction as distinct from online communication?
• What role will library technology playing in 2019?

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