Anticipating the future…

22Jan09

Keynote for Information Online 2009 – Anticipating the future of libraries: understanding trends and staying relevant in the digital age – Andy Hines, futurist, adjunct professor of Future Studies at University of Houston. 22 January 2009.

Emerging challenges
1.    Values
2.    Demography
3.    Lifestyle
4.    Technology
5.    Work
6.    Education

‘addicted to growth, debt, consumption’ – but if we do the things we should – economy will collapse.


1. Values:
change predictable
Traditional (follow the rules), modern (achieve!), postmodern (what does it all mean? – sustainability, wellness, authentic, simplicity, spirituality, creativity, appropriateness, don’t trust the institutions- social networking instead)).
**Libraries have a residue of trust – how do we leverage that? Where do our stakeholders fit in – the modern, traditional, postmodern- how do we navigate around these differing  demands and needs?
Disenchantment with science and technology – technology not for technology sake. Eg GMO and making choices- what works and makes my life easier?

2. Demography
Did a survey for MTV on happiness- found drivers of happiness to be family, friends, faith – surprising? People seeking a ‘practical happiness’, are realistic and want to make a tangible difference. People aren’t behaving! – the young act old, the old act young, people don’t traditionally retire “one size fits none” and no mass message.
** Library  – Messages- how do we say the message in 6 or more different ways?

3. Lifestyle
Co-creation- extreme personalisation, share creations with peers.
‘enoughness’ –  environmental concerns, slow food, slow life, sense of limits and desire ‘to take back control of my life’ “all I want is X, Y and Z –  not the other 25 things”
**Library – online needs to be intuitive- no user manuals or online tutorials to show me how to do things.
Localisation – sense of limits to globalisation, greater community (virtual and real) connections, value authenticity, example- rise of local famer’s markets
** Library – localisation?
Ethical consumption – who I am is expressed in who I do business with. I back up my values with purchases – “stampede of footprints”
**Library footprint – our values?


4. Technology

Virtual made real – bringing objects in to the real world, increasingly porous virtual world. “I want it when I want it”
Technology as a partner –   shift burden of decision making onto software- so increasingly trust technology to make (at least) routine decisions.
**Library –  If trust is 5 levels- where level  1 is my level of minimal trust – how can I build up  relationships with people/clients- so that they will move up to level 3 or more in trust? Do we want more trust?
Transparency – live in glass houses, so invite community into your world, no secrets
Just in time life- making plans and adjusting on the fly- twittering, flashmobs.
**Libraries – are good at managing shared resources – take it further?

5. Work
Knowledge work- open source, workforce of one, information wants to be free, creative class, long tail.
Will stimulate a whole range of reasons why people need to meet F2F – the virtual world and connections stimulates the physical  networks and connections
** Library – as a third space- a space to work, connect?- great places with personal attention?
Organisations are responding to differing work needs

6. Education
Online learning takes off- we will get cleverer at managing the F2F stuff. Lifelong learning- people engaged not just for the money, for the knowledge. People are not retiring and sitting back.

**So with all of this- how do/should libraries respond?
Got to entertain the worst scenarios and plan, sense the possibilities, pay attention and take action – with cool heads and insight.

I love this sort of talk- libraries are in a good *place* in all of this – just need to be a more more ‘out there’?, take a few more risks?  not aim for perfection?

I also liked Andy’s ideas on the big ‘fix’ –

i) bandaids- the stimulus packages that governments around the world are doing now. will they work?

ii) the bigger bandaids

iii) the sustainable growth approach – fix the system.

I hope we get to iii) sooner rather than later…..Kx

postscript… also meant to say- I use to think I was just becoming more hippie-like, but now think I must be postmodern??

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3 Responses to “Anticipating the future…”

  1. 1 jo

    Hey there, am enjoying your posts and tweets re #io2009. Thanks for helping me keep informed – almost as good as being there

  2. veeeeeeeeery interesting. Think I can see that authenticity thing happening very strongly in other areas of my life – would really like to see it more in MPOW. We still are on the traditional-modern end of the spectrum.

    Gosh – maybe I’m post modern too and not as “alternate” as I thought. 😉 A meta-Penny maybe. *snort*

  3. Great post! Linked to it from my blog http://www.km-librarian.blogspot.com.


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