This special session was the third Trendspotting Lab, following the first one at Charleston last year and one at the SSP 2019 conference last June in San Diego. As before, it was led by Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe from the University of Illinois at Urbana. Here are the 9 trends that were developed at the previous Trendspotting labs.
- All about analytics and algorithms.
- Who really knows anyway?
- Everything is computational.
- You call that content?
- The carbon imprint.
- Securing the record.
- The common good dissolves.
- Just for you and just for me.
- The researcher’s way.
Each attendee told the group where they work, and which trend they thought was the most relevant to them. The most popular trends were numbers 1 and 4. Following the introductions, attendees wrote PostIt notes describing events occurring in the last year which should be added to the trend descriptions. The notes from each participant were grouped to find commonalities between them.
Each table then synthesized their groupings into a single new trend and presented it to the audience. Here are the results:
- Void of vision: being content with the way things are in institutions and consortia, and a general aversion to risk that drives safe solutions to problems.
- Roadblocks between students and success: affordability, OERs, textbook costs. What causes dropping college enrollments?
- The rise of the robots: Discovery and creation of content based on algorithms, without users creating the terms. How we view what content is and handle accuracy.
- Tech transformation turmoil: Technology is getting more embedded and complicated, but yet the value is becoming less apparent. Content magically appears online, and people don’t realize all the effort that goes into it. Publishers are providing the value chain. We don’t have the skills necessary because technology is getting more complicated abd is happening behind the scenes so that users are not aware of it.
- Toodleoo trust”: an erosion of trust in institutions. authorities and values.
The final task was to identify the implications of these trends to our work.
- Tootleoo Trust: Trends 2, 6, 7. Encourages finger pointing, predatory journals and distrust of published content, eliminates experts. Libraries are no longer trusted as stewards of content, death of newspapers. Best case scenario: wake up, revisiting of what’s important night balance what’s critical. Worst case scenario: war, nuclear war.
- Rise of robots: Trend 3. Use of algorithms in the publishing process, content creation, peer review, discovery, ethics compliance, text/data mining, efficiency of research, threat to librarians, scope of information is beyond human scale, accelerating impact, publishers and libraries challenged to adapt. Best case scenario: New insights improve human health, create knowledge. Worst case scenario: erasure of creativity, loss of jobs at a large scale, more uniforimity of content.
- Void of vision: Need to address all trends. Academic libraries and their leaders are not looking far enough forward and are content with nibbling around the edges of the current problems rather than facing them head on. Institutions become more parochial and only make the easy decisions in times of austerity. We need to do this NOW!
- Tech transformation turmoil: Trends 1 and 3. New skills are needed and new ways to demonstrate the value of libraries; publishers applying the technology to change the value that is still rare to our missions. We need to rethink rates to our members and learn to communicate better with technologists. Best case scenario: Access is seamless; authentic content is flagged in some way; search results are more accurate; new skills are learned so better decisions can be made. Worst case scenario: end users become disconnected with the value of libraries.
- Roadblocks between students and success: Trend 7 manifests itself in textbook publishing and access to scholarly works. Impacts are budgets affected by dropping enrollment. Best case scenario: Enrollments stabilize or rise again. Worst case scenario: Universities close.
Don Hawkins blogs about conferences for Information Today and Against The Grain. He also maintains the Conference Calendar on the Information Today website and is the Editor of Personal Archiving: Preserving Our Digital Heritage, published by Information Today in 2013, and Co-Editor of Public Knowledge: Access and Benefits, published by Information Today in 2016. He received his Ph.D. degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and has worked in the information industry for over 45 years.