Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Today at CIL - Opening keynote

I haven't fallen off the face of the earth - it's been an incredible day. (And I was unable to connect to the internet for several hours, so this is really late!) We learned several things about CIL this morning. The conference was first called "Small Computers in Libraries," with small meaning microcomputers which we now call PCs. How the world and our terminology have changed!. There are over 2100 people here representing all 50 states, 10 other countries including Canada, Egypt, Nepal, the UK, Sweden and Slovakia. There are 139 speakers and 62 companies exhibiting. What a group to be part of.

Clifford Lynch's opening keynote was exciting and inspirational. His purpose was to relect of what's happened in the last 20 years and project into the future. He spoke a little about the big trends he has seen that we all lived through but seldom think about in an organized way.

He talked about arpanet in 1969, the internet emerging in the mid to late 70s and the web in 1994. 1985 was the beginning of the era of online catalogs, ATM began in the early 80s and were many people's introduction to computers. In the mid 90s the Internet burst into the public scene and there was a huge adult education problem that libraries stepped up to address. I never thought about that role for libraries, but I used one in a library before I had one of my own, and I was proud that I could manage the catalog fairly quickly.

The trends he spoke of include moving from scarcity to abundance, from hard-to-find information to more than we can cope with. Moving from surrogates to digital representations that stand by themselves, from bibliographic records to full text.

And he spoke of the long term trend from scriptoriums in monasteries to printing presses that belong to organizations to PCs that belong to individuals. The power has shifted immensely. The web is for authoring as well as consuming - BLOGS, for example.

Information is paradoxical - it is fragile and must be preserved with care. And it is impossible to get rid of when you sent one angry email in 1982 that is still on the web and comes up every time someone Googles your name! EVerything embarrassing will persist!

He talked about security and privacy and the issues we still need to sort out there.

He predicted with certainty that CIL at 30 will be an interesting thing!!

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