Dispatch from Seattle on the Association of College and Research Libraries conference and the coming Borg Collective

Our Serials and E-Resources librarian Brian Provenzale just returned from Seattle where he attended the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) conference, and files this very interesting report:

This was an unusual conference for me in that it didn’t involve either cataloging or law librarianship. ACRL itself is also unusual for library conferences in that it consists mostly of presentations based on contributed, peer-reviewed papers. The sessions I attended were all about Web-based services. The Twitter session was provocative because the speaker declared that blogs were “old-fashioned” and that he had no interest in reading them because they are too long. The jury is still out on the usefulness of Twitter, but there’s no denying it is a sweeping phenomenon that could end up changing library services and the way we deliver information.

My favorite session was on “post-literacy.” Although wildly speculative, the presentation made a good case that literacy would eventually be replaced just as literacy replaced oral tradition. But what would it evolve into? Some examples: Is life too short to learn everything you want? Live on by downloading your consciousness to a silicon-based body. Too much information to talk/write/read about? Get a chip implanted to interface directly with computers. Need to learn French immediately? Take a pill. There was also talk about electronic enhancements that would allow our brains to communicate “telepathically” and enable us to work as a hive mind. Think: the Borg on Star Trek.  Some creepy implications here, but at least most of it isn’t likely to happen in our lifetimes. The overarching implication, though, is that the information age isn’t  going to end for a long time. If anything, it’s only beginning.