Sarah Houghton-Jan's Top Technology Trends

I won’t be able to join you all for the Top Technology Trends panel, but someone more worthy than I can read this in a good strong feminine voice, and hopefully he or she will be wearing black, so as to most accurately reproduce the experience of actually seeing me speak.

My predictions are few this year. The only constant is change (but that’s not new, is it?).

RSS goes mainstream
With all the subtle introductions of RSS into internet users lives (My Yahoo!, Firefox & now IE RSS-friendly features, etc.), more and more people are being introduced to the wonders of RSS. Despite my unheard plea with the world to stop calling it RSS and call it textcasting instead, RSS is still RSS. But even with its name working against it, more library users, family, and friends seem to be asking about RSS and then using it happily once they discover it. I also predict that more and more libraries will use RSS to display current information on their websites, from new books in the collection to new headlines from the teen blog.

I predicted this last June as well, and I believe it now more strongly than ever. I believe that OCLC is angling to produce a fully-functional ILS. OCLC is a membership organization of libraries, and what are all libraries having problems with more than anything else right now (not including funding)? That’s right–a stinky-poo ILS (yes, whoever is reading this out loud has to say stinky-poo — hee hee, I made you say it twice!). OCLC’s progress toward an ILS may be full of baby steps–a web interface here, an integrated ILL system there, ending with the full-fledged patron database, cataloging, acquisitions, plus infinity monster program that is the ILS. Let’s see what they can do and cross our fingers that the result is cheap, easily installed, and intuitive for patrons and staff alike.

Reaching out online
We have our own little fiefdoms online, our own library websites that branch out into subscription databases, reference and tutor chat services, and other paid content. What we still need to do is reach out online to where our users are, which sure as heck isn’t our library websites. Libraries are starting to do this piecemeal—listing podcasts in iTunes, posting video content to YouTube, posting on local blogs and forums, listing ourselves in free wi-fi directories, and so on. I predict a mass awakening in the library world, though, to the need for online outreach. This is important because just as we do physical outreach in our communities, we need to match those efforts virtually. Our communities spend a lot of time online—we just need to figure out where, and meet them there.

The move to web-based everything
No, you only thought the whole world was web-based. Now you’ll really see it happen. With services like Craythur.com offering a virtual web-based operating system with applications and storage space online, and Google moving slowly like the beast toward Bethlehem toward a complete web-based OS with its school of web-based office applications (calendar, word processing, spreadsheets), long-held predictions of people like Steve Wozniak seem to be coming true—everything n our computing worlds will be web-based. Say goodbye to the individual PC with software loaded onto it and files stored in its inner depths. Say hello a sci-fi world where everyone’s end-user devices are basically dumb terminals that are used to access your web-stored information—files, software licenses, everything—from anywhere, anytime. No more being tied to one computer to access “your” stuff. You will simply have web-based profiles with the web mega-giant of your choice, probably one for work and one for school. Along with this, say hello to a desperate race to develop adequate file security for this environment that will satisfy the gadflies among us.


  1. Bill Drew

    OCLC used to have one. It was called SiteSearch. I think you are wrong in this prediction. It just doesn’t feel right to me.

  2. Ken Chad

    OCLC already has three ILSs! See the OCLC PICA website “For the management of your library processes, OCLC PICA offers three library systems, each with its own specific features and benefits, such as the possibility to serve as a stand-alone solution or the option to be fully integrated with the central system.” See http://www.oclcpica.org/dasat/index.php?cid=100883&conid=0&sid=33db6e29d6d81dcddfcfdf8e9ee99ca2.

  3. John Kupersmith

    Re: “Say hello a sci-fi world where everyone’s end-user devices are basically dumb terminals that are used to access your web-stored information…” Not disputing the prediction, but if any further proof were needed that the world is a giant pendulum, this is it.

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