Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Intersecting trendlines

Tasha Saecker, on Sites and Soundbytes, posts a note referencing a study of Generation Next:
The new generation of 18-25 year olds is called Generation Next. I think that their experience with technology and its social aspects is an important part of what libraries need to be looking at with their websites. Pew Internet has done a large survey of this generation and it is filled with data that every librarian should be looking at. This is our next generation of adults. Are you prepared to serve them?
They use technology in new and distinctive ways.
They are the "Look at Me" generation because of social networking.
They embrace new technology, but many say that technology makes people lazier.
They support immigration, gay rights and interracial dating.
It's worthwhile reading, and coincidentally, Karen Schneider, en route to ALA, has posted her trend predictions with implications for library technology:
People increasingly rely on and trust the web for news and information.
It is increasingly difficult to function without email, and even easier to function with it.
Many more people have IM than you might think.
The bookstore is going away. (That makes me sad, and yet I buy from Amazon, too.)
The film camera is an anachronism.
Wifi is an assumption in many settings.
Everyone has a cell phone. O.k., only 203 million Americans have cell phones, and only 2 out of 3 global citizens. Most of those citizens are teenagers and college students, for whom the cell phone must be attached to one ear for at least 80 percent of the waking day, as far as I can tell from observation.
It is now pretty much a given that anything you do in a public setting can potentially be blogged, podcast, or uploaded to YouTube in a matter of minutes. (Privacy is increasingly porous.)
Library vendors' customers (that would be us) are expecting more for their users, and asking harder questions.
There seems to be an interesting confluence at work with implications for planning.

If I were to add one, it would be downloadable video. Several things make me feel this is an area we should be attentive to:
- the way DVDs have fueled growth in library use
- Google acquisition of YouTube
- Apple Computer's newest video devices
- iTunes' acquisition of Paramount and Sundance titles
- the Wisconsin Public Library Consortium's experiment with Overdrive Videos
Change is happening, and we have stay attentive, remember our core values and roll with it. This will mean being nimble without being hasty, and deliberate without being hidebound. Can you tell I'm heading into a major planning cycle?

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