Thursday, December 11, 2008

Horizon Report 2008

The Horizon Report is an annual study that looks at "emerging technologies for teaching, learning and creative expression" and in its annual report, lays it out what they think are the general technologies to be watching in three time frames (1-2 years out, 2-3 years out, 4-5 years out).

Sometimes when I look at the Horizon Report I think "duh, isn't that obvious?" But I do find that it can give some focus to initial discussions about what is happening around us.

What I also like about the report is it gives real-world examples of what some places are doing with this technology to aid learning. This too leads to ideas for what we can do.

For 2008, the "key emerging technologies" identified were:

1-2 years out:
Grassroots video (very easy to capture, edit, post videos)
Collaboration webs (easy ways to collaborate online)

2-3 years out:
Mobile broadband (smart phones will be more pervasive)
Data mashups (transforming the way we look at and interpret data)

4-5 years out:
Collective intelligence (knowledge and understanding developed from large groups of people)
Social operating systems (networks organized around people rather than content)

I have heard that for the 2009 report, mobile devices is now in the 1-2 years out category.

Those first 4 areas are issues we have been talking about in a number of ways, so it is good to see that we appear to be looking in the right direction.

The full report is at:

including examples of what others are doing. Some of the mobile broadband application and mashup examples are especially interesting.


Mitch said...

While I think the Horizon Report has some value, for me the key challenge is distilling their broad assessments down to some practical, useful, services of value to the research community. Many of these trends, while certainly of interest to us as Librarians, seem only peripherally related to our mission. One could generally categorize "Grassroots video" and "Data mashups" as trends facilitating publishing. Can they be reasonably related to Library service? How about "collaboration webs"? Aren't they really talking about simply employing online tools to improve work processes? While a worthy pursuit, and one I'm actually interested in as a manager of a staff network, what is the role of the library in creating and supporting these types of work environments?

As we look forward I can't help but be concerned that as an organization we've not addressed our generally slow adoption cycle and inability to quickly improve systems that we know are inadequate. Despite recent efforts, I believe we still lack focus, both as a department and as a Library system. Or maybe it's just me? Seriously, I feel more than a little responsible for the general stasis. I'm pretty good at supporting production systems, not so great at managing projects and assessing next generation technologies.

That all being said, brainstorming on future directions is all well and good, but I would like us to also give some thought to practically moving forward on current priorities.

Dorothea said...

Mitch, I have the same sense about slowness that you do, though I don't think it's possible to point fingers at any one person or service.

I'd really like to talk about technology and technology-awareness dissemination this Friday. I got an email before the holidays from a librarian elsewhere in the UW System who asked whether DCC could start a blog on library technology, because (he said) he learns so much from us at DCC-related meetings. The example technologies he cited (which I won't list, because I don't want to embarrass anyone) were ones that I can almost guarantee everybody on this blog takes for granted!

I don't know what the answers are organizationally. We have the expertise, there's no question about that; it's just scattered, and there doesn't seem to be much incentive either to move it out or (from the other side) to pick it up. The training buck doesn't seem to stop at anybody's desk, and neither does the learning buck.

To tackle this problem realistically, we'll have to face some unpleasant realities head-on, from a Luddite strain among a few of our colleagues to the budgetary difficulty of introducing new services. We do, however, have some raw material to work from, such as the LILI IT interest group, the A/V interest group, and the e-research interest group... and from a strategic point of view, I don't think it too hard to sell technology training as investing in our people, which Ken Frazier pointed up as a priority at the last GLS All-Staff meeting.

Scattered thoughts... I hope some of them are useful.

Dorothea said...

Oh, and a postscript: for best results, it might be smart to frame technology training in the context of streamlining inefficient processes and increasing communication among scattered campus libraries and librarians.

There was a really good article in School Library Journal about the 23 Things program. I floated a trial balloon at the last reference retreat about doing 23 Things here, and the response was "great... can you do it?" Not all by myself, no! But how do we build the kind of buy-in necessary to make it happen? And whose job is it, anyway?

Dave said...

I feel Mitch's frustration. How can we move ahead with new stuff when so much of our existing projects need attention?

In my mind, the discussion on Thursday is not ONLY about what is new. Rather, what do we need to do to move forward. Some of those things may be new - embracing new techs. But I fully expect/hope that some of the discussion will be on exactly what Mitch points out - why are we slow to adopt/improve?

The answer to that may not come out of Thursday, but we may identify that as a top issue to address in the coming year.

No way can we move ahead without a combination of evaluating new techs as well as evaluating our existing techs/policies/practices.

Vicki Tobias said...

Updating Existing Platforms

I'll weigh in more more time tonight. I wholeheartedly agree with Mitch, Dave and Dorothea, that some of our existing platforms could use a little development "love." On more than one occasion, I've found myself actually embarrassed to present the UW Digital Collections to a group of new users. I challenge everyone in our groups to try explaining how to search and retrieve content from the UWDC. It goes something like this:

"...well you see, we have broad subject-based collections and within collections we have subcollections and subcollections are made up of text-based materials, hosted on our EFacs platform, and multimedia materials (audio, video and images), hosted on our SiteSearch platform and these two platforms are separate so you can't really search for texts and images together but if you search for everything in the SiteSearch platform, you'll return images AND these odd little icons that look like globes called pointer records that will direct you to the text-based materials..." (I'm met with silence, deer-in-the-headlight stares, general confusion, uncomfortable shifting in seats)

OK, my presentations aren't quite that ridiculous but the search process is and, really, users don't want to work that hard. They want something akin to the Google experience. Why can't we make that a development priority? What's the point of digitizing all this stuff if users can't find it?