Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Glen: "In 12 years, why not an iPod that can carry all scientific literature ever produced?"
Of course, I am borrowing from the recent statement made by Nikesh Arora, Google's VP of European operations at the FT World Communications Conference, where he said "In 12 years, why not an iPod that can carry any video ever produced?"

All video ever produced is huge amount of content, and most probably (I may be mistaken) is much greater than the body of all scientific, technology and medical literature (books, articles, etc) or at least all, say, from the last 40 years. If you accept this premise, then the personal digital libraries/collections that are becoming very common (Beagrie2005, Borgman2003, Alvaraz-Cavazos2005) will have transmogrified themselves to becoming a world (or at least a Very Big Personal Library) unto their own.

It reminds me a little bit of some of the stories we heard when the Internet was just becoming part of main-stream society, and we laughed over quaint stories of (newbie) people who expressed how they wanted to "Download that Internet-thing..." (No references to tubes at this juncture in history, however!).

Well, in a certain fashion, this will be coming true. No, not that someone will be able (in 12 years at least) to download the Internet to some iPodesque device. But they will be able to carry around with them the enormous collective content which previously was held in floor-after-floor of library stacks (perhaps across multiple libraries), then in storage-unit after storage-unit of hot, expensive, energy-guzzling online storage.

How should/will publishers react? Will this force more DRM or more Open Access? What will be the role of libraries, if most of their content will be available on these small devices? How will search/browse interfaces and technologies evolve to meet these new demands and situations? What new business models/opportunities will evolve from this environment? What will be the impact on learning and higher education?

And, what will librarians be doing and with what will libraries be filled?