Magazine article Information Today

Riding the Waves or Caught in the Tide

Magazine article Information Today

Riding the Waves or Caught in the Tide

Article excerpt

* Ever wondered about the implications of a Google Glass wearer who walks into your library? Instantly, everyone who is there is under surveillance. And if automated translation tools benefit us by breaking down language barriers, do they also remove the cultural context from the text being translated? It triggers the question of whether results from search engines, driven by algorithms derived by commercial entities, can actually be trusted.

These are just a few of the perplexing situations that could transform libraries in the future. Ingrid Parent, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) president, touched on these issues during the presentation of the IFLA Trend Report "Riding the Waves or Caught in the Tide?" during the 2013 IFLA World Library and Information Congress in Singapore in August.

Five High-Level Trends

The Trend Report (trends.ifla.org) identified five high-level trends in what Parent describes as an "insights document." Here are the big trends:

1. New technologies will expand and limit who has access to information.

2. Online information will transform and disrupt traditional learning.

3. Boundaries of data protection and privacy will be redefined.

4. Hyperconnected societies will listen to and empower new groups.

5. New technologies will transform the global information economy.

But these trends are not unique to the library and information communities; they have implications for many parts of society. The process of compiling this well-reasoned report took nearly a year. In true library style, it started with a literature review, followed by a meeting of 10 experts in Mexico City in March 2013. An online discussion followed that meeting, and an expanded expert group looked at the issues.

It's important to note that the experts were not librarians. They were social scientists, economists, business leaders, education specialists, legal experts, and technologists. Among the thought leaders were the chairman of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the director of the Global Libraries development program from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the director of the Internet & American Life Project at the Pew Research Center, the legal director of copyright at Google, and a presenter from BBC Click. …

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