“Library Trend Watch”

Discussing the future of libraries at the 11th InetBib Conference / photo: Ralph A Stamm, ISN

If you think librarians are old-fashioned people dressed in checkered shirts, I tell you: they’re not. At least not those attending the 11th InetBib Conference.

I entered an auditorium populated by people sitting with computers on their laps, listening, thinking and twittering about the future of libraries. Encouraged by an atmosphere of open discussion and criticism, participants would, from time to time, raise their voice and challenge the presenter’s views.

For the session I attended this morning, the organizers invited five people to give five-minute presentations on technological trends that might influence the future of libraries. “Let’s look into the crystal ball,” Patrick Danowski, the moderator, said. Fittingly, his introductory talk was entitled “Library Trend Watch”.

Dr. Rudolf Mumenthaler from ETH Library, talked about the future of e-readers. He argued that only multifunctional tablets such as iPad will become popular, with classic e-book readers remaining a niche product. It is the libraries’ job to provide their users with electronic content, on which they could cooperate with publishers.

Christian Hauschke from the University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Hannover, talked about Linked Open Data. He called on libraries to open access to their bibliographical information and follow the four principles of linked data.

Andreas Kahl introduced us to Google Wave, an open-source collaboration tool currently under development. Wave would allow librarians to log themselves into the work process of students and make suggestions like: Have you considered this source? At the same time, Google Wave allows users to delegate certain processes to the machine, such as including biographical references.

Buzzword ‘Cyberwar’

Cyberwar: Concept, Status Quo, and Limitations
Cyberwar: Concept, Status Quo, and Limitations (istock.com)

For all the talk about cyberwar, what does it actually mean?

In a recent policy brief, Myriam Dunn defines it as “warlike conflict in the virtual space that primarily involves information technology means.”

According to her, it’s the last rung on the ladder of cyberconflict, as measured by potential damage.

While milder forms of cyberconflict – cybervandalism, internet crime and cyberespionage – are relatively frequent, we lack established knowledge on potentially more destructive forms such as cyberterrorism and cyberwar.  This is why the debate on cyberwar is extremely prone to speculation, she warns.

You can download the paper here.

Also, you may want to check the ISN’s Digital Library for further resources on information and cyber warfare.

Is Twitter Eroding our Humanity?

Fire Hydrant with quote / Will Lion, flickr
Fire Hydrant with quote / Will Lion, flickr

First it was TV, then it was video games, now Twitter? Are these things really contributing to the decay of the human psyche, our morality and our ability to concentrate? Or is this just paranoid blame-seeking, intent on vilifying the entire spectrum of modern day tools part of our everyday life?

The ISN blog presents two viewpoints- mine and that of my co-worker Cristina Viehmann. Let the debate begin!