Information Today
Volume 19, Issue 1 — January 2002
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What's Ahead for 2002?
Predictions from 12 information industry gurus

As we do every January, InformationToday has asked a group of industry movers and shakers about the current state of the information industry, as well as where they think it's going. The contributions below range from the serious to the tongue-in-cheek, but you'll find them all insightful. 
The Editors

Stephen AbramStephen Abram
Vice President, Corporate Development
Micromedia, Ltd./IHS Canada
2002 will bring more changes—duh! We've spent the past 5 years adapting to the Web juggernaut and the sad part is the Web is just an acorn from which the oak will grow.

Just when we thought we had searching on the Web pretty well nailed, everything shifted. Successful search now involves more than a simple search box interface and rests more on the way results are displayed. The invention of new forms of contextual display that take advantage of visual clues and maps, taxonomic hints, and folders—along with the ability to integrate multiple types of documents and file types beyond HTML—will be where the action is in 2002. Middleware returns. We might even see the return of search sets and sorting!

We finally get the desktop PC target standardized on a pretty narrow range ofbrowsers and functionality, and cheap communication/information devices explode on the market. They will be wireless but that won't be why they succeed—they'll succeed because they're aligned with the work and play behaviors of their users. There will be faster adoption in certain markets, especially medicine, law, university students, and tweens and teens.

Demographics will become the driving issue in 2002 and beyond. Some estimates put the retirement bulge for the next 5 years as high as 30 percent. What's more frightening for publishers and vendors is that it's bigger in the info junkie professions. After years of building deep customer relationships, off they go and retire. What will this cause?

First, our change-resistant institutions and businesses will have to move our eyes away from the lucrative boomers if we want to survive. While we weren't looking the kids changed—a lot. These are students?! Their information-seeking behaviors don't come close to anything we recognize. Their technology skills are high on the one hand while their information literacy, word-based language skills, and research habits are poised to challenge both publisher and librarian alike. We can no longer afford to be in denial that the young folks are different. The generation gap is huge—and ironic.

Thus we will see 2002 as the year that e-learning becomes a critical business challenge. We're seeing a new convergence of content and search with learning and work flow. The challenge of retreading employees and bringing them up to speed with a depleted workforce will be the top business challenge of the early millennium. The development of a balanced and blended learning ecology that supports a seamless transition from pre-K, K-12, college/university, work, and personal learning will be the key to competitive advantage. Those employees, who stem the flow of knowledge exiting their organizations and/or at least reduce the march to stupidity, will succeed.

Digital rights management (DRM) isn't going to hit prime time in 2002. We're pulling that bandage off very slowly. Anyone who predicts that the copyright skirmishes will be solved and a regime that is easy, seamless, right, balanced, and fair is dreaming in technicolor. And if anyone thinks that governments or the courts are going to provide leadership and enforce a global regime through legislation or case law, they forget recent history and what politics really is.

Stephen E. ArnoldStephen E. Arnold
Arnold Information Technology

A divide exists between the commercial online world and its customers. The commercial online business charges for connect time, records displayed, and special services.

Customers are hungry for useful, accurate, timely information. Many believe that free or lower-cost sources of information are adequate replacements for their expensive cousins. Certain market sectors are shifting from "sit-think-query-read" to a different mind-set. The online companies see the PC as the access device. Customers are looking at "anytime, anywhere" devices.

In 2002, companies will make money delivering facts and how-to, and selling other types of content via mobile devices. The commercial online world—with roots in the models of Dialog, LexisNexis, and Dow Jones—clings to search and retrieval.

The more useful paradigm is delivering needed information—what I call on-point, in-line content—in the context of a work task.

Palm has successfully demonstrated wireless access to patient data for physicians at Cedars Sinai. Ovid Technologies, following in the footsteps of a number of health facilities in the U.K., has moved in a similar direction. The result is that search takes place automatically and delivers the data without the physician having to enter a query. In the case of patient medication, the drug-interaction data are queued when the doctor accesses the patient's chart data. No Boolean, no traditional search and retrieval.

Delivery companies such as UPS provide information via customized wireless devices. Some data are sent or "pushed" to the device, which beeps and alerts the employee or UPS partner to new information. Other data can be accessed by a point-and-click search. The plumbing behind this type of architecture is the future of search. This would include, for example, XML, SOAP, and UDDI. 

Merrill Lynch, like IBM and British Telecom, wants to have workers access data via wireless devices from customer locations. The walls of the organization are being replaced with nomadic systems that process, queue, analyze, and deliver data. Search and retrieval is no longer the centerpiece. Customers are embracing this new focus on actionable, high-value content where and when it is needed. The value of information is tied to the payoff from mobility and flexibility, not an arbitrary price list.

More importantly, pricing models that have become ever more Byzantine and volatile this past year will be sharply challenged by some customers.

Commercial online vendors will face significant challenges in 2002 with regard to the bundling of services with content. A misstep from a dominant online player opens the door of opportunity to such companies as IBM, Microsoft, and others that have not been perceived as online content forces.

Niche customers such as accountants, lawyers, medical professionals, chemists, and financial analysts are likely to question sharply the traditional online pricing model. The policy of automatic price increases and variable billing will be harder to force upon certain key customers.

So 2002 marks the year when the financial chickens begin to come home to roost for some traditional information companies. The established business models have ossified. The result will be more dinosaurs killing one another in the hopes of winning more market share. The survivors in this Darwinian struggle will flourish in the new customer climate.

Matt DunieMatt Dunie
Cambridge Scientific Abstracts (CSA)

The dot-com fallout has leveled. Now it's time for the information industry to return to its basics: provide functionality, provide value, and innovate.

Functionality—A few years ago it was easy to believe that the customers wanted new technology for the sake of using new technology. However, we need to remember that what customers actually want is information that they can use. First of all, this means that as information providers, we have to focus on the quality of the actual information we are selling. Regardless of the subject area, we have to provide customers with compelling, accurate information that they are willing to buy. Then, we need to deliver that information in a way that is intuitive, easily accessible, and takes full advantage of the technologies that our customers are currently accessing.

Some of the near-term enhancements that I envision include more powerful indexing that allows researchers to pinpoint information resources; increased linking from bibliographic databases to information sources at the object and data level; and greater compatibility with PDAs, broadcast alerts, and multimedia.

ValueInformation has value. In an era where organizations were busy luring eyeballs with whiz-bang technology, the value of the actual information often got lost. For the information industry to continue to thrive, we must remember the value of our products and create business models that enable users, distributors, and providers to gain from our efforts.

Therefore, pricing models should reflect this. At CSA, our direct pricing provides institutions with unlimited, sitewide access to our databases. This concept results in increased use by the institution (with a corresponding decrease in the cost per search/cost of use) and a stable revenue structure for CSA—a win-win situation all around!

InnovationEven though popular use of the Internet is less than a decade old, to most people it feels like a mature technology. Who knows what the next "Internet" will be and when it will hit? We at CSA don't know—yet. However, we remain on the lookout. As one of the pioneers in CD-ROM technology and as the first company to make bibliographic databases Internet-accessible, we believe in the importance of innovation.

Who knows if the next big thing will be a resuscitation of push technology, the ascent of the PDA over the PC, or a new gizmo currently under development in some obscure government research lab? Whatever it is, we need to be ready to recognize it and use it to its fullest. However, we can only go forward with new technology by maintaining specific goals in content architecture and the use of data standards to ensure the integrity of the information we're providing.

Functionality, value, and innovation are the business basics to rely on for 2002.

Susan FeldmanSusan Feldman 
Research Director, Content Management and Retrieval Software

Longtime denizens of the information industry must be amused at the current buzz about "content." Or perhaps bemused is the better term. We see a proliferation of e-content conferences, e-content appliances, content service providers (read Factiva, Dialog, LexisNexis, etc.), and content-management software. Large vendors like Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, or BEA are making noises about content. The sudden notice of our own passion and business—good information and how to find it—is gratifying, and a bit mysterious after all these years. 

But there may be less mystery to the content preoccupation than we think. We have, after all, entered the Information Age. Businesses and organizations and even families are information-based. Knowledge workers desperately seek information that they can use in their own creation of yet more information. Enterprises increasingly deal with their customers, suppliers, and the public through a computer interface rather than by telephone or in person. In the last 2 years, we have come to expect instant information anywhere on anything remotely mechanical—computers, cellphones, PDAs, even cars. The hiker I encountered in the woods last week was carrying a GPS device that probably checked his e-mail. We are endlessly connected. 

There was once a certain euphoria to this situation, but it is fading fast. If we expect to get information anywhere anytime, we also expect it to be the right information. This last caveat is not so easy to fulfill. As any information professional will tell you, there is a profound difference between any information and good information. The last few years have been devoted to finding any information. Now, though, we want "good information," "accurate information," and "answers" rather than results lists. Can we use what we know about how humans judge quality to build automated systems that will deliver good information in real time? It has become imperative—and financially attractive—to deliver the right information to the right person at the right time. 

Demand, of course, spawns products, and we therefore find a curious convergence on enterprise information systems these days. Some companies—stalwarts like Factiva, LexisNexis, Dialog, or West, as well as new ones like iPhrase, Teoma, divine, Alacra, and Northern Light—are basing their business on this, and they are, I hope, due to get the attention they deserve in the coming years. 

However, with all this attention from non-online industry vendors, are we at the end of the information system as we know it, and at the beginning of its successor? If so, what will it look like? How will we use it? Who—online information providers or today's software vendors or some hybrid that has yet to be invented—will survive and flourish?

That's what I'm thinking about in the odd hours of the night.

Clare HartClare Hart
President and CEO

During the last year, businesses around the world have been operating in a challenging environment with a receding economy. Companies have been forced to cut back staff, reduce travel budgets, and generally cut or control costs. As a result, organizations are now scrutinizing expenses more than ever and looking for greater return on their investments.

There is a bright side to this harsher economic environment. The economic boom over the past years has fueled intense growth in IT spending. Companies will continue this year to fund their investments to support, develop, and maximize their information investments. However, we will see money flow into information infrastructure as the focus shifts to refining work flow and business process through innovative technologies and user-interface improvement. Companies will be looking at how they can further leverage the investments that they have already made in their infrastructure. In past years a primary focus was how to get the information; looking ahead, this focus will shift to how to use the information to do business better. 

By now, most companies have systems that enable communication, collaboration, and sharing of business-critical information. However, many of these systems need to be improved, refined, and sometimes even redesigned to improve user interactivity, information access, and scalability. Companies have realized that their IT investments are saving them money, allowing them to respond better to competition and manage global business operations more effectively, but they know there are more efficiencies to be gained. 

Companies will rethink their information architecture and examine the way that business processes influence their information flow. To save money this year, you will see companies consolidating and centralizing their technical infrastructure and will attempt to re-purpose systems to help decentralize their decision-making process. This allocation of resources will allow regional operations to quickly respond to changing local market conditions, yet conserve valuable technical resources. Additional funds will be saved through the adoption of single products—characterized by multiple-language capabilities and technical scalability—that meet the needs of the entire organization. 

You will also see a funding shift from system development to the refinement of user interfaces that improve end-user interactivity and the integration of content into the business process. Organizations have invested significant time and expense into the development of extensive taxonomies to categorize internal and external content so that their employees can find the information they need when they need it. Yet, given the presence of taxonomies and powerful tools for searching, end-users still run simple searches, failing to realize the benefits of a well-structured taxonomy. 

Companies will redefine their user interfaces by introducing new technologies that either suggest indexing terms to the user related to their keyword search or even seamlessly translate keywords into indexing terms behind the scenes to give end-users relevant search results through simple searching. 

This year will prove that enterprise application integration is a reality. Companies have successfully integrated internal and external content using XML and common taxonomies, and this year XML's benefits will be fully leveraged to further integrate and unify enterprise applications. For instance, XML will improve work flow by automatically, but nonintrusively, supplying users with task-based, context-sensitive internal and external content. Users will seamlessly navigate and work in multiple applications, while the systems themselves are communicating transparently and automatically updating content that is shared among multiple applications. 

In 2002, companies will be more risk-averse and will look for partners, professional services, and suppliers that have solid experience in their areas of expertise. Companies will benefit from the reassessment of their investments and activities. 2002 may not be marked by the enormous IT investment that has characterized the past years, but it will be an exciting year as companies leverage internal resources to define and further refine their IT investments. 

Jay JordanJay Jordan 
President and CEO

I have four predictions for 2002.

1. The Web—2002 is going to be a year of consolidation as people pause to rethink business models and what constitutes real value for a critical mass of customers. At OCLC, we've been surveying the Web since 1997. The most recent statistics show that Web growth is slowing down. Public Web sites, which constitute about 36 percent of the Web, grew by only 6 percent last year, compared with 32 percent the year before. The information industry accounts for the largest portion of content on the public Web—16 percent. There will be continued use of the Web by corporations, educational institutions, libraries, and governments for the delivery of high-quality information and services.

2. Standards—It is fair to say that the Dublin Core is the leading standard for resource description on the Web. Last year, NISO approved the Z39.85 standard for the Dublin Core. In the coming year, the Dublin Core Initiative will seek adoption of the standard by ISO. Last year, Adobe Systems adopted the Dublin Core as part of its metadata creation facility, and there will be increased adoption by other commercial organizations in the coming year. There are currently seven governments (Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, and the U.K.) recommending or mandating the Dublin Core, and by the end of 2002, that number may very well double. We will also see large-scale experimentation with the OAI (Open Archive Initiative) approach to sharing metadata. This trend will provide fascinating insight into the practical issues of interoperability and into what level of agreement is needed to make this fusion of data worthwhile. 

3. Cataloging—2002 will see a serious rethinking of cataloging. The major drivers of this rethinking are internationalization; the growth of very large files; and the semantic Web, which holds the promise of more intelligent machine navigation. This is the first major re-examination since the 1970s. It will involve the Library of Congress, OCLC, national library organizations, libraries, and others in serious discussions about what practices in cataloging need to change. 

4. Digital Libraries—In 2002, we will also see a rapid increase in the number of digitization projects among libraries as they seek to make their entire collections available online—e-journals, e-books, and now, their special collections. These materials may reside in special collections, or they may be primary research data, or new forms of digital scholarship and learning. These materials raise complex issues as libraries increasingly support the whole life cycle of digital information creation, management, and use. They also raise the question of the library community's curatorial responsibility for the preservation of the intellectual record. How will we exercise this responsibility in relation to new digital materials? For example, with e-books, we move to interesting questions about collections of materials in new form. We are moving from single atomic units to databases of materials that may be richly interconnected with other resources, which may be repackaged and selectively output for particular users. Libraries will be in a position to create compelling new learning experiences.

Allan McLaughlinAllan McLaughlin
Senior Vice President and CTO

Two technology trends that will become more developed in 2002 are XML technology and Web services. 

Because of its flexibility, XML is a key player in the Web services arena. It has exploded onto the technology scene and has reshaped the way businesses communicate and exchange data. Not only has it reduced the cost and frustration associated with online transactions with customers and other businesses, it is poised to bring video, audio, and computer-human conversations to the Web. LexisNexis has adopted XML and our product engineers are using it in developing new Web-based products.

According to a survey conducted by Jupiter Media Metrix, 60 percent of IT managers surveyed plan to use Web services for internal operations over the next year and 53 percent plan to use them externally. Until recently, the Internet has been geared only for interactions between humans and machines. Now, with Web services, online automated interactions between machines are now a reality. With all the positive attributes of Web services, they are sure to quickly penetrate the business enterprise.

Along with these newer developments, we will certainly see the entrenchment of earlier identified trends as well. Globalization remains a constant drumbeat for the top tier of providers of information services and enterprise solutions. Both LexisNexis and its customers increasingly are operating globally. We and our major competitors are creating global technology platforms to accommodate different cultures, nomenclature, languages, currencies, and time zones. 

Customization is also a requirement. In order to ensure maximum productivity for information-intensive professionals in an information-saturated world, it is necessary to provide custom-built knowledge management tools that cut through the clutter of excess information and deliver precise answers tailored to an organization's specialized needs. For knowledge management tools to be successful, they must be rooted in an understanding of the organization, its culture, and the enterprise's strategy. The vision must then be translated into an architecture that reflects an organization's knowledge practices. The corporate portal often serves as the single point of access to organizational intellectual capital.

It has been said that corporate portals will eventually become the new desktop, replacing the Windows start button and a variety of commonly used applications. Portals directly add to revenue by making available information from the most important organizational databases; they indirectly add to revenue by the hours of employee time that are more efficiently used.

As a result, customers will continue to clamor for effective, industrial-strength portal solutions. We believe financially strong companies with a heritage of technology leadership, who listen to their customers closely, will be the first to successfully deliver portal solutions that accelerate organizational decision making and decelerate the stagnancy of bureaucracy. 

But no matter how savvy an information provider's delivery methods, content is still king. Without quality, authoritative, accurate, and timely information, the means of distribution become irrelevant. This marriage of superlative content and superior technology is our constant mission.

Allen PaschalAllen Paschal
Gale Group

One of the things I've learned in my career is to be prepared for unforeseen consequences—to expect the unexpected. 2001 was a difficult year for everyone in our industry, certainly. The economy tumbled more rapidly than many expected, a decline exasperated by the terrible September 11 tragedies. In our specific markets, we saw budgets slashed at libraries and educational institutions. Information buyers are watching their expenditures carefully. For example, they're cutting back on subscriptions to duplicative services. 

We've all learned, again, the wisdom of the time-tested fundamentals of having a business plan that is realistic and workable. There's only one real way to ensure success, and that's to provide a diversified mix of quality products that offer real value to customers. Indeed, in a challenging economic climate, customers demand greater value, and the successful vendors will be those who can meet those expectations. The value proposition must be easily understood by all. 

I think that those vendors who have weathered the storms of 2001 will be well-positioned to rebound in 2002 as the economy resuscitates. 

We're focused on delivering what the customer wants from us. That means not only the quality products, but also those things that enhance relationships and widen the circle of users. As but one example: We're creating opportunities for parents to use our K-12 online services from home so that they can be more involved in their children's education. That's a relationship-building initiative that will help teachers, parents, and students work together.

One specific trend in the library world and corporate setting we'll see continue in 2002 is the development of e-solutions that link different online resources into single display formats. Libraries and enterprise information managers want those simpler services so that their patrons, students, and corporate constituents can use online services with minimal training. That will require a lot of us to rethink the whole issue of open architecture and strategic partnering. We need to give our customers more solutions for the dollars (and pounds and euros) they spend with us.

One challenge for all of us, related to the value-proposition question, is how we empower our customers—many of whom, like the librarians and educational administrators we at Gale serve, are information intermediaries—with the ability to best articulate the value of our services to their constituents, such as library patrons and students. We've got to do a better job of making our immediate customers ambassadors for us within their libraries, schools, and businesses.

The bottom line: The tight economy makes you appreciate the fundamentals of business. I don't think we lost sight of those fundamentals at Gale (nor at Thomson, for that matter), and that's why we see a bright 2002 ahead of us.

Karen G. SchneiderKaren G. Schneider 
Librarians' Index to the Internet

Melees over the First and Fourth Amendments will continue to challenge the free flow of information. Free-speech advocates and "child safety" proponents will continue to skirmish over blocking the Internet, while the Attorney General will repeatedly denounce critics of electronic wiretapping as "unpatriotic." The Children's Internet Protection Act, which would require libraries to install blocking software on all public and staff computers, will be overturned, and a similar piece of legislation will immediately be introduced to start the battles all over again. 

Ultraconservative organizations will continue to pump money into attempts at influencing local, state, and federal legislation. However, a savvier public, aware of the ubiquity of the Internet, will ignore pleas from Internet-filtering software companies to purchase their simplistic programs, and will remain skeptical of the claim that pervasive weakening of our privacy will strengthen a democratic society. 

Meanwhile, somewhere in a garage, a young person will be spending nights and weekends in front of a computer, testing the first truly intuitive content-recognition software, and, with the encouragement of a parent or spiritual advisor, will sell it to a major state university for $1 and 4 years' tuition and fees. Combined with the far more powerful directory structure of the next-generation Internet, this content-recognition tool will introduce the first major revolution on the Internet since the introduction of Mosaic. 

With the collapse of the e-book industry, librarians and other information and technology professionals will begin quietly planning for an open-source e-book standard that is sensitive to copyright, portable, and free. This standard will provide for seamlessly translating text into audio, and will pave the way for the first new literary genre in over 300 years. This new publishing market will play a modest but measurable role in the restoration of the global economy. 

The Handspring Treo will take off like a rocket, snapped up by consumers feeling the strain of gadget overload in briefcases, pockets, and purses. Later in the year Handspring will introduce the Treo Plus, which will incorporate recognition for electronic locks and alarms, eliminating the need to carry keys; the Health Treo, which will use skin sensors to measure glucose levels, heart rate, and blood pressure, with instant messaging in the event of medical emergencies; and the BoBo Treo, which on voice or keypad command will display the latest stocks, exude a miniature Cliff Bar, and play a few notes of "Kumbaya." Microsoft will attempt to sue Handspring over vague and specious claims of patent violation, and when that doesn't work, will go after Larry Ellison for no apparent reason. 

Finally, here is the truly New New Thing for 2002. Feeling both the pinch of the dot-bomb economy and the opportunity of a yawning vacuum, the major not-for-profit library-based Web portals—Infomine, BUBL, Scout Report, Internet Public Library, and Librarians' Index to the Internet, among others—will begin collaborating on a single, not-for-profit government-funded Web presence with the potential to create a public information infrastructure not seen since Carnegie built public libraries all over America. Battling our way through dank bureaucratic jungles, quicksand traps of vanished funding, rivers of collaborative programming code, and oceans of red tape, we will emerge—triumphant or chastened. 

David SeussDavid Seuss
Northern Light Technologies

As I gaze into the crystal ball that resides on my desk (right beside my treasured copy of the book Using Crystal Balls for Business Planning), I can see that 2002 will bring many events and changes to the information industry.

Reflecting the industry consolidation, the year will begin with the annual dot-com company conference being moved from its usual location at the Superdome with 50,000 seats to a small room with 7 chairs above a donut shop. "We just don't need all that space anymore," said a spokesperson. 

Scientists will announce that they have found the Invisible Web. Long thought to be a myth created by Intelliseek's marketing department, the Invisible Web will be found under a pile of 1999 Industry Standard magazines in the basement of an old BBN research lab. The researchers will describe the contents of the Invisible Web: 392 reviews of Invisible Man books, movies,and TV programs; 28 formulas for invisible ink; and a patent application for an invisible notebook computer. All the major search engines will crawl this content, and then retire their crawler software, the comprehensive index of the Web now complete. 

Later in the year, we will see the convergence of two current important social trends: the increasingly vital role of civil litigation in market competition and the growing public fascination with remote-controlled battling robots. The inevitable outcome of this convergence? By the end of 2002, civil litigation will be decided by contests between fearsome mechanical warriors, in which, for example, the recent Justice Department suit against Microsoft will be determined in a matter of minutes by a battle between a Microsoft robot designed by MIT recruits and a Justice Department robot designed by NASA scientists. AOL/Time Warner will jump on the convergence trend by launching an All Robot Litigation All The Time cable channel with a tie-in to an online parimutuel betting service.

In a shocking announcement late in the summer, consumer advocates will pronounce, "Information no longer wants to be free." The surviving Web companies will all immediately scramble to launch pay-per-view and subscription services. One enthusiastic young dot-com entrepreneur will gush to the press that the idea of premium information for user fees is so radical and innovative it might push NASDAQ to 5,000 again and may even bring back the IPO market. 

Anthea C. StratigosAnthea C. Stratigos
President and Co-Founder
Outsell, Inc.

September 11 changed our world. We're discovering that our interests and the rest of the world's interests are not mutually exclusive. We share a planet even though we exist in separate nations, cities, and homes. Somehow the world got a lot smaller, and the spirit of people and the exchange of information a lot bigger. We see the way the world is converging around certain values and sense common purpose, and we see the same for the coming year in our industry. "We're All One!" is our theme for 2002. Convergence and integration are everywhere, in many different flavors:

  • Software vendors are integrating with other software vendors.
  • Systems integrators are combining with hardware and software vendors.
  • Commercial software vendors and content vendors are sharing platforms.
  • People with many roles are working on portal teams and finding each other indispensable, with representation from IT, HR, MarCom, InfoPros, Purchasing, and Legal. 
  • Portals are being built on common content management and taxonomy platforms so that the same infrastructure supports intranets, extranets, and open Web venues. This is very important as Global 2000 firms turn internal content outward to become the dot-coms of  '02.
Just as people from all walks of life are trying to get along, speak each other's languages, and work through differences for some greater good, we see diverse functions involved in delivering content to users by integrating technology and applications to make content more usable. That's how we define integration: the availability of multiple information types—internal and external—that a user needs in a single interface.To get there, we're moving from an era of content independence tocontent interdependence.

Where else will interdependence, which is so visible in the outer world, be reflected in the information content industry? 

Relationships—Just as people are re-evaluating the place of people in their personal lives, our industry is re-evaluating what it means to be actively engaged with customers, partners, and competitors. High touch is "in" in 2002. 

Economics—There isn't a separate "new economy" just for information-related businesses. It's all one economy. We're all part of it and accountable to its rules.

Taxonomies—Common language is the backbone of content integration. It gives us a way to interpret and describe the diverse content we're integrating. In 2002 we'll see that we can't live without those common languages. 

Globalization—The social and political world is getting smaller, as is the content world. But globalization doesn't mean we all think the same or use the same content; it just means there's room for everybody's local interests. Watch for more local content and previously underrepresented points of view.

Digitalization—The industry rushes to digitize all content, but customers live and act in the physical world. There's a face-to-face component of knowledge sharing that successful content deployers won't leave behind. 

And in an ultimate irony, personalization will have its place at the content table. While we're integrating, the individual determines relevancy and value, and that won't be lost in 2002.

Roy TennantRoy Tennant
Manager, eScholarship Web & Services Design
California Digital Library

The dot-bomb phenomena will continue to have an impact on the information industry, with companies previously expected to transform how people seek and use information going down in flames. Primary among these will be Yahoo!, which if it somehow averts disaster will be altered beyond all recognition. These failures will provide opportunities for imaginative libraries and other organizations to fill the void with reputable nonprofit services.

Appliance e-books will continue to under-deliver on content and utility while over-delivering on expense and hassle. This unfortunate combination of undesirable characteristics will find e-book providers scrambling to stay alive, let alone clear a profit. Meanwhile, nonprofit publishing projects at universities and elsewhere will under-deliver on expense and hassle while over-delivering on content and utility. The press will continue to ignore them, while focusing on the stillborn e-book industry. Go figure.

Storage costs will continue to drop like a stone, leading to more affordable storage per person than previously dreamed of. Meanwhile, the increasing popularity of digital music and video will continue to create a demand for personal storage systems that will soon approach a terabyte (although unlikely within a year).

The publishing-industry-dominated restrictions of U.S. copyright law will continue to infringe on the Constitutional rights of individuals and society. Despite widespread public disdain of these restrictions, large and well-placed financial contributions to politicians from the entertainment and publishing industries, as well as conservative court appointees, will continue to make these egregious laws unassailable.

Now that libraries have achieved the automation of their local processes, they will look outward to broader collaborations with other libraries (e.g., resource sharing and online reference). In so doing, they will discover that seemingly small problems such as local variations in cataloging practice will create large difficulties in creating the kinds of seamless user services they wish to provide.

One of the most promising tools for achieving a high level of cooperative service is, and will remain, XML. Libraries will find XML to be both an essential component of their automation infrastructure, and one that will grow to be more important to their day-to-day functioning than MARC. However, adoption of this technology will be slow and incremental, as was adoption of the World Wide Web.

Predictions are inevitably plagued by at least two opportunities for failure: What events are being predicted, and when they are predicted to occur. But although I freely admit to being inaccurate at predicting the timing of these events, I firmly believe they will take place at some point in the future.

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