Technology Is Moving Ahead – Leaving Libraries Behind

Because, we continue to pursue ‘business as usual’ without lifting our head out of the trenches to see the future. Evidence is everywhere to show us what we are facing, but is anybody looking or listen? Starting with a retrospective, I’ll point out a small glimpse of that future.

Last August I wrote (Perpetual Beta – The Real 21st Century Library Model?) that;

We are drowning due to the competition, as well as due to our own lack of vision and innovation. We didn’t recognize the future and now it is upon us with all its implications, demands, and consequences. Not only is the future NOW, it is in a state of continual change and advancement to the degree that next year will be significantly different from this year, just as this year is significantly different from last year.

Last March I wrote (Our Future is Not Uncertain – It’s Ambiguous) that;

Within the librarian profession we tend to rely on the past for perspective. We try to play it safe when making decisions about what to collect, what to program, how to deliver services, etc. That time has passed and especially in this rapidly changing future, we can not resort to some outdated playbook of “We’ve always done it this way.” and expect to survive.

I based that opinion on the eye-opening article I was reviewing by Robert Safian in the January 2012 issue of FAST COMPANY titled “This Is Generation Flux: Meet The Pioneers of The New (And Chaotic) Frontier of Business“. Safian wrote;

The vast bulk of our institutions – educational, corporate, political – are not built for flux. Few traditional career tactics train us for an era where the most important skill is the ability to acquire new skills.

Executives at GE are bracing for a new future. The challenge they face is the same one staring down wide swaths of corporate America, not to mention government, schools, and other institutions that have defined how we’ve lived: These organizations have structures and processes built for an industrial age, where efficiency is paramount but adaptability is terribly difficult.

“The business community focuses on managing uncertainty,” says Dev Patnaik, cofounder and CEO of strategy firm Jump Associates, which has advised GE, Target, and PepsiCo, among others. “That’s actually a bit of a canard.” The true challenge lies elsewhere, he explains: “In an increasingly turbulent and interconnected world, ambiguity is rising to unprecedented levels. That’s something our current systems can’t handle.

“There’s a difference between the kind of problems that companies, institutions, and governments are able to solve and the ones that they need to solve,” Patnaik continues. “Most big organizations are good at solving clear but complicated problems. They’re absolutely horrible at solving ambiguous problems – when you don’t know what you don’t know. Faced with ambiguity, their gears grind to a halt.

“Uncertainty is when you’ve defined the variable but don’t know its value. Like when you roll a die and you don’t know if it will be a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6. But ambiguity is when you’re not even sure what the variables are. You don’t know how many dice are even being rolled or how many sides they have or which dice actually count for anything.” Businesses that focus on uncertainty, says Patnaik, “actually delude themselves into thinking that they have a handle on things.”

So what has happened recently to reinforce my opinion that technology is moving ahead leaving libraries behind?

Google recently announced its Ebook Converter from Ice Cold Apps, available for purchase for $2.71.

Convert your files to Ebook formats! ePub, FB2, LIT, LRF, MOBI, PDB, PDF, TCR! Ebook Converter allows you to convert almost all files to the … ebook formats! You can even change specific settings and select sometimes for what ebook reader the file is going to be used.

How can we convert almost every file on your phone? Well, the converting is accomplished by uploading your file to the cloud where it will be converted and downloaded back to your phone.

Now virtually everything can be tablet and mobile device compatible!

On May 30, MarketWatch published that OverDrive Introduces Browser-Based eBook Reader.

Leading global eBook distributor OverDrive today announced plans to launch later this year a new eBook reading platform, “OverDrive Read.” Based on open standards HTML5 and EPUB, OverDrive Read creates a fresh, direct and immersive reading experience offering significant benefits for publishers, booksellers, libraries and schools. Unlike eBook apps or devices, OverDrive Read enables readers using standard web browsers to enjoy eBooks online and offline without first installing any software or activating their device. OverDrive will demonstrate this new eReading platform at Book Expo America, in New York City, June 5-7, 2012 (Booth #4340), as well as at the American Library Association annual conference in Anaheim, Calif., June 22-25.

Is it any wonder that I say technology is moving ahead leaving libraries behind? We are clueless where technology makers will emerge next, and we’re still sticking to our traditional guns with bulldog tenacity. Is that the best we can do?

Does anyone seriously think technology developers are going to help libraries keep up or stay tuned in to the main stream of information delivery? Seriously?

Business as usual? Seriously?

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