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