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
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
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
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.
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.
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,
Value—Information 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
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!
Innovation—Even 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
Functionality, value, and innovation are the business basics to rely
on for 2002.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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,
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.
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
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.
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
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.
President and Co-Founder
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:
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.