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The Last Mile: A Chance to Get Started

This Friday I’m giving a talk at the Ontario Library Association Superconference , and months ago, I wrote a wide-open program description. I said I would “describe the outer limits of digital libraries,” share “radical and contrarian views,” and offer “mind-bending predictions.” I really wrote that? And I really said, oh sure, I can prepare it all offline, don’t spend all that money to wire the room?

O.k., o.k. Deep breaths.

1. I’ll “predict” the resurgence of the ebook and talk about why it will succeed this time. (Any libraries with Overdrive want to give me access for a week?)

2. I’ll show a few blogs, particularly FRL’s thread about Top Tech Trends prior to the Midwinter conference, but also, in the “let a thousands flowers bloom” department, Justinland. (Btw, the blog thread on FRL was to me far more interesting than our talking-heads panel of “experts,” and it frustrates me that the post-TTT discussion is happening on a small list, not out here in the biblioblogosphere. I’m now pushing LITA to start a blog for Top Tech Trends.)

3. I’ll demo podcasting using some of the fresh content from the Public Radio Exchange and perhaps a file I create.

4. I’ll discuss the Last Mile issues. And that will be the beginning of my ownership of this issue. Once I start to know it, I’ll have my topic. Once I have a topic, I can write something worth publishing. If the only place it goes is here, that’s fine, but I want it to be a piece that reaches others.

For example, today we hear that Mink, LA just got telephone service. Seems to me the first message I have to share–and it may strike a chord in Canada–is that the Last Mile is always with us, and is often longer than we realize. I’m going to try to talk to someone in Louisiana about getting connected to the Internet.

5. I’ll discuss some what if’s, as in what if your library catalog allowed users to rank and discuss books, the way Amazon does? What if libraries established public wi-fi WANs stretching across the entire North America continent? What if became the leading edge of technology, not the trailing edge?

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