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30 Library Technology Predictions for 2008

I rarely do this formally but I’m in the mood this year! I prefer to work in 3-5 year timeframes.
Anyway, here’s a few things, in no particular order, that I think will happen in 2008 that might/will have an impact on our little library world.
1. There will be some Internet speed and congestion issues in 2008 on a scale that hit AOL in the early days. There will be hand-wringing blog posts and I-told-you-so stories in the MSM.
2. Facebook will suffer some wonkiness in ’08 but will grow rapidly through acquisition and business partnerships. The F8 platform initiative will do better in 08 than the Google OpenSocial initiative but OpenSocial will win out in the end. Ads will survive and all the chest beating will have the same effect that it had when the web went commercial. Watch for financial, global, mobile, multilingual, and other niche stuff from MySpace.
3. Microsoft and Yahoo! will suffer some acrimony and that will result in some sort of business alliance. The Open Content Alliance will be part of this and some relationship to academia, research, and scholarly publishing.
4. Google will continue to draw more attention and this may expand into the beginning of a US federal or EC investigation into their growth, power and business practices. The end of the religion is nigh. We’ll see strong evidence of a public Google backlash and more questioning and distrust in ’08. Libraries should capitalize on their position as trusted, non-partisan services at this point.
5. The Apple iPhone will see lots of competition as the mobility space gets very crowded and exciting. Everyone will be be working very hard to meet mobile content and experience user expectations. Watch for new ‘cool’ or ‘sick’ phones from Nintendo, Motorola, Nokia, Google and Microsoft. End users are increasingly mobile.
6. Open Source software will grow – especially in the user experience space where it will do very well. Most niche-based projects will have very wobbly years and lose the attention of the host institutions supporting the initiatives. Think Sakai vs Blackboard. Follow the money. Can it sustain the developers and their healthcare premiums?
7. Many (1,000’s?) of the start-up Web 2.0 companies (especially those expecting huge ad revenues) will fail or merge into mainstream web companies. Start up consolidation will start to look like another bubble bursting – perhaps we’ll see the rebirth of the famous Some equity and venture investors will be looking to other investment areas and planning their exit.
8. SaaS and Hosted solutions will grow rapidly in 2008.
9. The DRM wars are just beginning. Open Access rules for government information will expand. The RIAA will suffer loss of financial strength (especially after strongman Valenti’s passing) as members rebel over the high cost of RIAA dues and lawsuits against tweens and their own shrinking margins. Suing customers is rarely a good strategy.
10. Bad laws will be attempted with regard to phishing, spam, viruses, filtering, censorship, ID Theft, and privacy. Library associations will be challenged to deal with a heavy load in representing end user rights and balance. The issue is global and few governments, associations or businesses are equipped to address the problem effectively on that scale.
11. Private, enterprise social networks will take off but no one will be able to see them because, well, they’re private and a competitive advantage and secret. Many librarians will rule these initiatives. Intranets will evolve beyond content.
12. The Google Docs suite will make real inroads into the enterprise space. It will be very hot in high school and college/academic spaces too. Like all popular useful tools many institutional IT managers will attempt to block them.
13. In 2008 there will be many communication, information policy and other tech issues in the presidential election on a scale and depth unseen in any previous election. The public will understand these complex issues at the soundbite level. Libraries will need to be backroom players.
14. Gaming, RSS and Blogs are totally normal in 2008. Not to be using them is to be well behind the curve of your average user. Few users will be able to point to them since they’re just normal. It would be like asking users to point to HTML, CSS or SMTP. They’re like the freon in your fridge.
15. 2008 Internet hotspots are India, China, Turkey, Brazil, and ANZ. Look for innovation from there. Watch for many acquisitions in the Internet space by China.
16. Watch for more OpenID adoptions by the big guys. Nobody wants to own this problem outright
17. Watch for some interesting mergers, acquisitions and divestitures. I’d watch for action around RIM, Tumblr, Digg, Twitter, Zoho, eBay, Skype, Semantic apps like Hakia and Twine, Technorati, and more.
18. “Local” will take off – watch for local ads, local search, GPS, GIS, Maps, and more. It will become increasingly personal and creepy. It will also affect browser settings, social sites and tools.
19. There will be attempts to regulate or tone down the wild west atmosphere of the blogosphere. Scandals, libel, slander, lies and anonymous/pseudonymous ad hominem attacks will attract lawsuits and other attention. A MSM type ethical policy will be attempted similar to MSM reporters and columnists. Citizen journalism will require journalist ethics.
20. Virtual Worlds will continue to show great promise but are not ready for prime time yet for a number of reasons. Still, you can’t have that future without an investment now. That investment is now more volunteer labour and creativity than dollars – unless you’re SL.
21. The US and Canadian elections in 2008 as well as the Olympics in Beijing will serve as catalysts for advanced uses of the web and 2.0 and mobile apps. They’ll do for some unheard of today apps what the NASA Space program did for Tang.
22. 2008 will be the beginning of the end for DVD (Blu Ray is a distraction) as streaming media is adopted by Hollywood and the (dying) major networks on a much larger scale – dwarfing YouTube as it exists today. New licensing models will emerge for libraries in ’08.
23. With the end of life of the Netscape browser in Feb. 2008, watch for more EOL announcements driven by standards changes and business model failures. 2008 will see a huge ramp up in HDTV hype as analog TV hits its 2009 end with lots of confusion benefitting TV sales.
24. eBooks will go mainstream in the business and professional space. Standards issues won’t be solved in 2008 and that’s sad for everyone, including libraries.
25. Blockbuster will begin its death throes in earnest in 08. Libraries need to discuss why and what they need to learn from this.
26. 2008 will see some cool – almost ready for primetime – uses of integrated e-paper in portable devices, readers, and wireless signs, etc.
27. Better identification and classification of user-generated content will give usage of that a bump in 2008. Can libraries play in that space locally?
28. Continued consolidation of content owners and aggregators. Some will be acquired by non-content based companies.
29. Hosted solutions / Software as a Service, Mashups and API’s will be very hot in 2008. This will address the consortia scalability and staffing issues in libraries.
30. Emerging recession, increased national debt, increased consumer debt, global credit crunch, currency volatiity, mortgage crises, threats of terrorism, war, natural disasters, political assassinations, et al. Stuff happens. Libraries don’t operate in a vacuum. We’ll survive.
I’m out on a limb but what the heck. Happy New Year!

Posted on: December 30, 2007, 10:45 pm Category: Uncategorized

6 Responses

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  1. Donald Bidd said

    Great post Steven….what do you think will be the impact of the increased use of Open Source on commercial ILS vendors? What will be their strategy? I just finished Tapscott’s Wikinomics, and greatly enjoyed the section on Prosumers and the new business model for development of products driven by the client. Do you think the ILS vendors will be exploring radically different business and development models?
    Hi Don:
    OS is a disruptive technology and as such has great potential in both directions – good and bad. Both dies of the OS debate need to to discuss both scenarios equally. Smart ILS vendors will embrace a hybrid model of OS and allow for the stability of strong companies with responsible, authentic support systems (insurance, names, etc.) to be blended with emerging OS solutions through SaaS, API’s, mashups, etc. OS needs to be held to the same standard – so RFP expectatiojn by which judgments are made may need to be re-written or management needs to ask why the RFP standards are being circumvented and if anything important is being lost in the process and what the real risks are. Some ILS companies will not survive is they have locked up data, API’s, or are too inflexible. A fossil is the most stable point in the lifetime of a skeleton.

  2. In response to #4 and #12, I’m considering encouraging patrons to get Google accounts for access to the Documents suite. I am tired of patrons losing all their work when his or her computer time runs out. Or selling disks for $1 during the last 3 minutes of the time the patron has to use the computer. While the relationship between librarians and certain Google programs has been antagonistic, the online word processor seems like a great solution to the dissapointment and frustration I get from patrons losing their resumes/homework/email everyday.

  3. Karen E said

    ? I’m confused how the demise of Blockbuster-like entities reflect in any way a possible issue for libraries (which #25 seems to imply).
    Libraries are more than their collection, unlike video stores. Libraries hold more knowledge and create more links to other resources of knowledge and information, unlike video stores.
    Of course libraries are more than their collections. However if we are blind to the changes that are affecting Blockbuster we would be very foolish.
    Libraries lend, Blockbuster rents. Youo have to drive or go someway to both to get their collections.
    Many libraries get 30-45% of their circulation from lending DVD’s and videos. If you can get videos with no need to leave your home…. Hmmmmmm.
    If the DVD format dies (and it is) and everyone goes to streaming media (like Europe mostly has), what is your library going to have to attract user to get all the rest of our goodness? How great are your ads and marketing to ocversome the research that OCLC published that the image of libraries is books, books, books, DVDs?
    Now when potentially 2,500,000 ebooks are online by 2010, through the Google BookSearch and OCA and over 10,000 publishers are already signed up for the entire current file, and Google rents each for 99 cents, why would I drive to a library (at $4 a gallon gas) when I can download. We better have a better user awareness of all our value add!
    If we can’t even see the Blockbuster problem or learn from that issue as it changes small parts of our mission, then we’re doomed.

  4. #18, I don’t know what computing power this would take because it seems like this should have happened already. all Google needs to do is change that lame “I’m feeling lucky” button to one that says, “I’m feeling local.” p.s., got my predictions for 2008 here,

  5. This is an amazing list of predictions!
    #17 is especially interesting.
    I’ve been using Tumblr since it began and belong to a loyal Tumblr community. I’d hate to see it fall in the hands of one of the Internet ‘giants’. Tumblr founder, David Karp (21!) already sold 25% of company in 2007.
    Read more at:
    Tumblr will definitely be one to watch in 2008.

  6. I think it’s interesting that you feel Blockbuster and other physical entities are in their death throes but the DRM wars are just heating up.
    I don’t think libraries should be in the business of DRM and, at least for the forseable future, DRM and digital media will walk hand in hand. Customers will not fully adopt DRM type media at the library until there is standardization. Our circulation for NetLibrary is marginal, at best, because people own iPods, not Plays For Sure compatible players.
    Additionally, I feel streaming is a long way off with the rise of high definition.
    I’d also be interesting in seeing your source for the adoption of streaming media (at least as it replaces DVDs) in Europe.
    You did see that the big 4 music publishers abandoned DRM in the last few months including Sony BMG last week?
    If libraries form better consortia and license the stuff right – just like they buy books and databases – there is no reason they can’t make a made-for-libraries DRM-less licensing solution. It may take some time and oinvolve some nasty negoatiations but that’ll break the impasse. As long as libraries neglect to use their econonic power they willl be forced to just go with what s offered.