Magazine article Information Today

Living Online

Magazine article Information Today

Living Online

Article excerpt

Howard Ratner, CTO and executive vice president of Nature Publishing Group, was the recipient of the 2012 Miles Conrad Award at the NFAIS Annual Conference in late February. The award, presented in honor of G. Miles Conrad (one of the founders of NFAIS), recognizes the accomplishments of significant contributors to information science and supporters of NFAIS.

Characterizing himself as a technology geek, pragmatist, and publisher, Ratner traced the evolution of computing, dating from the 1970s when it was centralized on large mainframe systems:

* Early 1980s: The birth of the IBM PC permitted a computer to spring up on every desktop and in every home.

* Later 1980s: The PCs may have been "portable," but they still required a power outlet.

* The 1990s: Mobile PDAs emerged that had slow communication speeds and still needed to be tethered to an electrical outlet. This era also saw the rise of search engines, which changed the way people interacted with information.

* The 2000s: New forms of information introduced new social networks and services into popularity, and content management became a commodity. User behavior also changed, making users more social and more mobile.

Significant developments in technology paved the way for these advances. With cell towers everywhere, wireless has never been easier or more accessible, said Ratner, noting that connectivity is faster and cheaper than ever before. Today's batteries routinely deliver power for 7 to 10 hours, providing long use between recharges to connect to the internet from home and office, as well as trains, buses, and cars. …

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