Castle Librarian

Archive for November, 2010|Monthly archive page

Predictions of Future Past

In Musing, Web 2.0 on November 30, 2010 at 8:48 am

A long time ago (1992) when I was in graduate school learning to become a librarian, we were shown a short video that predicted the future of information.First let me set the scene:

  • This was pre-graphical Internet browsers. (Mosaic was another amazing demonstration at the time, but there was no Internet Explorer, Firefox, or whatever.)
  • We were using Pine for email.
  • We were posting things to “bulletin boards” and usenet. (I remember spending hours reading the leaked script to the Star Trek Next Generation movie and being disappointed.)
  • There were no images, no videos, no animations, no search engines.

The video we were presented with showed a business man getting up in the morning and having a relaxing cup of coffee while his computer generated “information butler” (my terminology) told him verbally about news reports he might find relevant, gave him the stock report on his investments, told him his schedule for the day, and responded to the man’s verbal feedback. All those things that personal assistants do for the rich and powerful. The message for us apparently was that we had just signed up for a profession that would soon cease to exist. I looked on YouTube for this video, but that is like looking for a needle in a very big haystack with my eyes closed.

Happily, 18 years later, the death of the librarian profession has not been realized. We still don’t have artificial intelligence and we still need people to organize, channel and disseminate information. (We still need people to figure out why the computer system isn’t giving us what we want when we want it.)
There are things like RSS feeds that we are supposed to use to glean information we want from the overwhelming mess called the internet, but only a few use them (the info savvy). Even I haven’t taken the time to set this up for myself (mainly because I expect to be deluged with more info than I can possibly handle). I’m a secondary consumer, I suppose. I rely on my Twitter friends who are using their RSS feeds to find out what is happening in the world. They then share the link via Twitter and if their comments catch my eye and I think I might be interested in the information, I follow the link and read for myself. I’ve found some really important information that way.

In a way, the Internet is seriously inbred. For example, someone out there writes something interesting. Someone reads it and channels it in my direction. I find it interesting and useful for others, so I put it in a wiki or a blog for further distribution. Search engines index my wiki enabling others to find it and before long my wiki is linked to someone else’s wiki or website. Etc., etc., etc.
In the spirit of inbred Internet, here is a link I think you might find interesting. The Internet in 1969 via the Huffington Post

[Previously published on my other blog.]