Some of those things may be true today, but none of them will be true in 10 years.

Some of those things may be true today, but none of them will be true in 10 years.

Blake wrote this line roughly 8 and 1/2 years ago in a piece titled: Libraries and Librarians In A Digital Future: Where Do We Fit?

Since we are nearing the 10 year mark I thought it would be interesting to see where we are today compared to the ideas that Blake purported. We can also look at some of the comments that were made about the piece at the time.

Here is a piece written in 2005 at Cites and Insights commenting on Blake's piece.

My idea of posting these two pieces is to reflect on them with the knowledge we now have because the time has passed. My idea is not to criticize but to see what we can learn by looking at what thoughts were put into predictions and what the outcome actually was.

Constructive comments and criticism welcome.


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Good point

I like this point that Blake made in his piece: Our goals should be to elevate our position without trying to denigrate our "competition." We must show the world what we can do, and how we work with technology. All these technologies are here to stay, and if we want the same to be said for libraries, we need to work harder to move our selves up, without putting others down.


I would say that the following prediction was proven itself correct: I am convinced within a decade we will have the tools that will allow the majority of people that can afford it, and the desire, the ability to buy, read, and store all the books they want, without paper.

A basic e-ink Kindle is under $70. It can hold thousands of books. In many places you can get library books as ebooks. I am someone that basically does all their major reading on an e-ink device. I prefer reading on my Kindle because it is lighter than most books, more comfortable to hold, and can be read with a large font. There are things that are not available as ebooks that I want to read but I would not run out of reading material if I stayed only in the digital realm.

That specific point

Actually, that statement has two huge caveats that make it hard to disprove--but it's also false, unless "they" only want ebooks.

Yes, if you can afford both the ereader (pretty cheap these days) and the ebooks (maybe, maybe not), and if you desire to make the switch, you can certainly buy and read a huge number of books. But that was even true 8.5 years ago.

The fact that it's possible to read many books in digital form (not all of them, not even close) does not mean that everybody inevitably prefers to do so. You do your major reading on an e-ink device. Good for you. Notice that I'm not denigrating your choice. I do most of my book-length reading in physical form: and I regard that as an equally valid choice, especially given how easy it is to borrow physical books from my library.

If there's one overall theme in my occasional pseudo-Luddite rants, it is that the new rarely sweeps away the old with any rapidity, that multiple media and technologies frequently coexist, and that we have seen no reason to believe that the overwhelming majority of people were or are desperate to get rid of print.

Still 1.5 years to go, but I'm not feeling stupid about this

I'd largely forgotten that article and extended discussion--but now that you've reminded me of it, I'll try to make a point of revisiting the whole thing when Blake's ten-year point has been reached. (That assumes that I'm still writing in the library field, which is no longer a safe assumption.)

I'm pretty comfortable asserting that most people have not in fact decided that they want to read everything in e-form (looks like that's running about 4% of tablet/ereader owners), that print books will still be important by the end of 2015, that public libraries will still circulate print books by the billions at that point... Oh, and that most public libraries will still be around.

But those aren't careful direct rejoinders. Not ready to do those yet.


One big difference is the number of people that have devices to read on if they wanted to. iPads, tablets, and smart phones are largely ubiquitous compared to what was available in 2005.


I have no memory of writing this at all :-) Great find!

That was a time of optimism

And I was earlier having to grapple with some notions of Delay Tolerant Networking relative to maintaining access to mirrored file services in relation to nation-states that are in the midst of martial law that could lose their outbound Internet links at any time. I wish that were a hypothetical. Thailand is in that state now and I'm working on this with a colleague.

As to available tools, I'm sure Blake never thought in 2005 of something like The Orange Box that could be deployed in such situations. Then again, nobody thought in 2005 the Internet could be so easily broken as we have seen over and over since the Arab Spring.

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