Statewide Reference: Think-Tank update

What does “Everyware” have to do with the future of libraries? This is just one of 10 trends considered at the Statewide Reference Think Tank held August 25-26, 2008 in Pasadena, California. Eighty-six participants joined together for two days to consider the trends that are impacting the way people are finding and using information, and to build possible future scenarios for providing statewide information services.

The event was facilitated by futurists Michele Bowman and Sandy Burchsted, who introduced the 10 trends and facilitated the workshop. The 10 trends included:

Everyware: Information will be embedded in everyday objects and places in meaningful ways. Things will think and interact with each other and us-storing, transmitting and creating data.

“IAAM” It’s all about Me: Describes a shift in consumer demand from conspicuous mass consumption to mass personalized consumption.

Information Visualization: As we transition from a text-based to a visual-based society, information visualization is undergoing a creative technological renaissance. Text-based search is giving way to semantic and sense-based search, creating a new dimension in our hunt for information.

We Media: Armed with easy-to-use web publishing tools and a host of increasingly powerful mobile devices, online audiences have become active participants in the creation and dissemination of news and information.

Google World: The Internet economy is facilitating the disintermediation of dozens of industries, from television and media to banking and airline travel. The “middleman” is becoming extinct.

Power of Us: Connective technologies are expanding our ability to cooperate and create value. Collaboration is emerging as an engine of growth and innovation.

No Boundaries: From communities of interest to virtual worlds, IDENTITY is giving away to AFFINITY as people increasingly negotiate and redefine their personal social spaces.

Friend-formation: We’re starting to use our friends to find, sort, vette and curate the ever increasing fire hose of information. Being “friended” equals being trusted and relevant.

Social Media and Web 2.0: The social media sphere is the primary means for disseminating information and ideas throughout society. Social media sites are idea transmission systems, neural pathways of our emerging global brain.

Innovators R Us: The era of not invented here is giving way to a new era where everyone is an innovator. The people formerly known as customers are now co-creators.

After the trends discussion, the whole group voted for the top two trends that were most important and uncertain to the future of statewide library information services. The top two selected were Google World and Power of Us.

The group then broke into smaller groups to consider the impact of these trends over the next 12 years. These groups also selected a third trend to add to their future thinking. After brainstorming all of the possibilities, the groups then worked on creating future scenarios. Each group created headlines for the China Daily: Special Edition: The Future of Information Services 2020. The headlines and brief stories conveyed possible futures. One headline read, “Truthiness Database Hacked! People Flock to the Library.”

From all of the creative thinking several themes have emerged that are now being examined by a smaller group of Think Tank participants. These themes are guiding the development of ideas for new information services that we can begin to build now. These ideas will be shared at the Annual Conference of the California Library Association in November 2008 and through other venues to get input from library staff members across the State. After the feedback is collected, a builders group will be formed to plan for implementation of one or more of the concepts.

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