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Trends! Trends! Trends!

At ALA Midwinter in Seattle, once again I will sit up on a panel with a group of people I consider smarter than I am, and bluff my way through a discussion about Top Technology Trends. (It’s Sunday, 8–10 a.m. , FAIR Spanish Ballroom, for those who love Sunday morning events.)

But it wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t solicit trends from YOU, gentle readers… which I generally do by tossing some of my own ideas onto the page and then allowing you to point out all the obvious trends I’m missing or wherever else I’ve gone astray.

What is a trend, anyway? When I look up the word in Google, I see the term “direction” used frequently in its definitions. So a trend pushes us somewhere… whether we want to go there or not.

This is what I see, at least in North America in early 2007. This year I deliberately chose very simple, broad strokes. Some of my observations may sound over-obvious, but I include them because I feel they are important to ponder when we consider technology in libraries.

People increasingly rely on and trust the web for news and information.

It is increasingly difficult to function without email, and even easier to function with it.

Many more people have IM than you might think.

The bookstore is going away. (That makes me sad, and yet I buy from Amazon, too.)

The film camera is an anachronism.

Wifi is an assumption in many settings.

Everyone has a cell phone. O.k., only 203 million Americans have cell phones, and only 2 out of 3 global citizens. Most of those citizens are teenagers and college students, for whom the cell phone must be attached to one ear for at least 80 percent of the waking day, as far as I can tell from observation.

It is now pretty much a given that anything you do in a public setting can potentially be blogged, podcast, or uploaded to YouTube in a matter of minutes. (Privacy is increasingly porous.)

Library vendors’ customers (that would be us) are expecting more for their users, and asking harder questions.

O.k., predictions–want one? Evergreen, the open source ILS, will reach a tipping point in 2007–just enough new customers to put it on the brink of being to the ILS what Apache has become for web servers: the common-sense choice.

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