Eric Lease Morgan’s Top Technology Trends, 2005

Top Tech Trends, 2005

This is a list of my Top Technology Trends for the 2005 ALA Annual Meeting.

1. Live CD’s and massive storage devices are increasingly making the CPU of computers commodity resources.

The bootable massive storage devices such as live CD’s or USB drives are enabling people to carry their entire computing environment around with them without the need of a network. Imagine what will happen when a person can carry around the equivalent of the Library of Congress on a key fob. What will libraries look like at that time?

2. Web Services, a technique of disseminating XML data over the Web, are playing an increasingly important role in the dissemination of data and information.

Expect the component parts of integrated library systems to be parsed out as individual Web Services. Expect the functions of things like dictionaries, thesauri, and encyclopedias to be disseminated using Web Service techniques and combined into new and innovate interfaces usable in many environments and available on many computing devices. AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript + XML) is an example of such a technique. It enables the creation of Web-based scripts to appear stateful and consequently enable the developer to create environments holding people’s attention longer. Apple Computer’s “popularization” of Konfabulator, known as Dashboard Widgets, is another example.

3. We are increasingly seeing commercial and non-commercial information be accessible side-by-side.

The principles of Open Access publishing and Open Source software are very similar. They are both about providing free access to data, information, and knowledge for the benefit of people everywhere. One will not supplant the other. Support both in order to hedge your bets and continue to remain relevant.

4. The preservation of digital materials is a pressing problem.

We are in the midst of creating a Digital Dark Age. Libraries are about the collection, organization, preservation, and dissemination of data, information, and knowledge. Increasingly this data, information, and knowledge is manifested in digital form. What are we doing to preserve this content? How will people five, ten, fifty, or hundred years from now going to access to this content? While I do not advocate the preservation of all digital content, there is a need to articulate collection policies regarding it and then implementing the policies. I suggest the preservation of locally produced content be the first priority. Consider the markup of content in XML and the use of LOCKSS as potential solutions.

5. You can decreasingly expect people to come to your website for content.

Instead, explore ways to integrate your content and services into the working environments of you patrons. Playing a role in institution-wide portal applications is one example. Create Search Bar tools for Firefox browsers. Explore the use of XUL to create institution-specific interfaces to collections and services. Syndicate your content, and develop tools — gadgets/widgets — providing seamless access to you, your content, and your services from within the user’s browser, email client, and RSS reader.

6. Customization is not going away, and gathering personal information is not necessary for personalization.

Google News and Yahoo News are expect examples. At the same time, more and more you see things like Remember Me buttons on commercial sites while logging on. For the most part things like People Like You Also Used and You Might Also Be Interested In are appreciated services. These functions make content providers “sticky.” Balance your professional values for patron privacy with the usability of your Web presence. Strive to create the best mix of professionalism and user expectations.


Eric Lease Morgan
University of Notre Dame

June 16, 2005

11 thoughts on “Eric Lease Morgan’s Top Technology Trends, 2005

  1. “…what will happen when a person can carry around the equivalent of the Library of Congress”

    The ubiquity of storage has passed the point where it is an unmixed blessing. You can carry a substantial library around with you, but with nothing better than a file system to organize it, it’s a big jumble. We get some assistance with the rise of desktop search engines like Google Desktop and Yahoo Desktop (et al) – but they still need work to handle the beefy flash drives and portable hard drive devices we plug into them on the fly.

  2. I see this “problem” — the ability to carry around significant amounts of content on a key fob — as an opportunity for librarians. As Thomas mentions, these tools only allow you to store this information on a file system. Us librarians have an opportunity here to devise tools and methods for users to organize this mass of data. Search is only part of the answer. Browse is the other part.

  3. I wld concur with most of this but I think we need to think why these trends are occuring – eg Web Services and components, to really interpret what and when they will change the game. Breaking up monolithic apps into XML Web Services is a no brainer, the real opportunity is in orchestrating the results and re-integratin the functionality into even more powerful applications.

    As to smarter clients (eg AJAX) I agree – and it is refreshing to see someone in this domain recognise the importance of XUL like technologies.

    btw Take a look at http://silkworm.talis.com ….. says it all.

    Dave Errington, CEO, Talis.

  4. Thanks for the list. I had not seen the Live CD information before. I was just reading that the current Live CDs are all Linux. Will there be Windows versions?

  5. It is unlikely there will be wide-spread implementations of live CD’s with Windows. Technically it is possible, but there would be legal/financial impediments.

  6. I can give evidence to point 5 already in a small way. On most days, especially the last couple of weeks, more people read my blog via Bloglines than actually visit my website.

    This is not true of my library’s website as yet. Our news feed can be picked up through Bloglines, but our public does not seem to have discovered this. Perhaps we should tell them.

    I did not realize it, but we are starting to integrate into other environments, too. We have placed links to our reference help onto our local historical society’s website. Perhaps we should put links to our databases onto the village government website. Users would still have to enter their library card numbers. It might increase our service to the community.

  7. OCLC Office of Research has, famously, put all of WorldCat (60 million records) on a medium-sized iPod. This doesn’t include the indexing, nor does it include the full-text or full-image content. But as portable mass storage gets bigger and cheaper by leaps and bounds, and as an increasing amount of full-content is digitally available (think G5 libraries), it is not much of a stretch to imagine carrying around a sizeable personal library in ones’ shirt pocket.

    If this portable library represents ‘my story’, how will libraries help me define, gather, and maintain (update/weed) this story? I think librarians will increasingly look a lot like publishers and authors.

  8. “If this portable library represents ‘my story’, how will libraries help me define, gather, and maintain (update/weed) this story? I think librarians will increasingly look a lot like publishers and authors.”

    I am unable to answer this question definitively, but I see it as an opportunity to be exploited. Libraries, IMHO, are about collecting, organizing, archiving, disseminating, and sometimes evaluating data, information, and knowledge. We could take our professional experience, package it up in software, and embed the software into mass storage devices. By doing so we should be able to suppliment the user’s experience with their masses of data/information saved on their storage devices.

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