Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

TECHXNY June 2002 and Implications for Libraries. (Communications)

Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

TECHXNY June 2002 and Implications for Libraries. (Communications)

Article excerpt

If the morning weather report predicted rain, would you carry an umbrella? The annual Technology Exchange Week (TECHXNY) conference predicts gales and calms in the information technology (IT) industry, and we in library IT who share the climate should listen. Whether you choose to carry an umbrella is up to you--and your patrons.

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TECHXNY, with its emphasis on innovative business-related technology, commands a position to suggest IT trends. TECHXNY suggests what's hot, what's in, and what's on its way out.

How might knowledge of IT trends help in the library? It might prevent us from planning--or worse, investing in--products that are too new or too old. Ironically, it is fortunate that library budgets do not in general allow us to sit at technology's cutting edge where we might be more likely to take a costly electronic risk. Our library missteps are perhaps more likely to lead us down the path of purchasing obsolescent equipment or omitting security features we ought not be without. Presented are some industry trends extracted from exhibitions, talks, trade publications, and promotional literature that flowed freely at the TECHXNY conference. These trends can, in turn, help set the agenda for the library. It is hoped that this essay can help guide library IT strategy and assist in prioritizing purchases, suggesting what may be eliminated and helping focus on present and upcoming essentials.

TECHXNY, in its twentieth season, welcomes thousands of attendees annually. This year, exhibitors from over three hundred of the world's leading IT companies participated, including Compaq, HP, IBM, Intel, Iomega, Microsoft, Palm, Samsung, Sony, ViewSonic, and Xerox, to name a few. Microsoft, IBM, and others provided keynote speakers. Special sessions were held on topics such as Win2000, Linux, start-ups, security, storage and high availability, and IT infrastructure.

Discussed following are a few of the conference themes that have particular bearing in a library setting: hardware (such as physical objects), telecommunications (for example, communication over a distance), and IT in the organization (that is, overall functioning of the system). The relevance of each theme is considered first for the industry in general and then specifically for a library setting. These observations are less recommendations than what are intended to be taken as provocative ideas. (1)

Hardware at TECHXNY

In a departure from conventional usage, the exposition publicity proclaims that "PC" now stands for "Pervasive Computing," in that the desktop system is no longer the sole platform for productivity. Instances of pervasive computing represented at the conference included laptops, notebooks, and PDAs as well as desktop computers. Other products shown were digital video creators, speech-enabled server appliances, credit-card-sized digital cameras, color print/scan/fax copiers, and 3D-Album photo presentation software, to name a few.

One of today's prime IT marketing conceits is to describe a product as a solution. In point of fact, many of the latest solutions have yet to settle on problems significant enough to warrant purchase of the gadget. It is difficult to arrive at any conclusions about the range of devices represented because a conference presence of some gadget does not necessarily reflect its acceptance or share in the market. Take DVD, for instance. The Digital Video Expo was described in the conference program as "the largest professional video event on the East Coast focused exclusively on digital video tools and technology," and the extensive DVD sessions were open to all conference attendees free of charge. Representation of DVD at the conference, however, does not reflect its use at large. Show director Christina Condos mentioned to me that the CMP DV Media Group had paid for this promotion. Not represented at the conference was holographic storage technology that may soon compete with DVD. …

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