DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

future

Dec 3 2010

The Morrow Project

by Jesse M

Do you ever wonder what the future holds? How all of the new technologies currently being developed and implemented will change the way we live our lives? If so, you may be interested in The Morrow Project, “a unique literary project which shows the important effects that contemporary research will have on our future and the relevance that this research has for each of us.” Four authors (Douglas Rushkoff, Ray Hammond, Scarlett Thomas, and Markus Heitz) produced short stories inspired by “research currently being conducted…in the fields of photonics, robotics, telematics, dynamic physical rendering and intelligent sensors”. The results are available as a free e-book download (EPUB or PDF) or in podcast form.

If you are interested in further reading along a similar vein, there is an abundance of excellent and thought provoking science fiction in the DCPL catalog. Two I’d recommend in particular are David Marusek’s Counting Heads and Accelerando by Charles Stross, both of which illustrate the pleasures and perils of post-scarcity economics and the frightening and fascinating places technology will take us over the coming decades.

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The first decade of the New Millennium–what are we calling these years? the aughties? the oh-ohs?–is coming to a close. If you scour the internet and troll the newsstands you’re likely to find that the jury may have reached a verdict on how to define the 2000s. If Time Magazine is to be believed, we have reached the denouement of “The Decade From Hell” (ouch!). There are numerous events within this decade that merit such harsh judgment: the current economic crisis, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hurricane Katrina and 9/11. In light of those events, it’s easy to get caught up in the doom-saying and disparaging of an entire decade. But with only 29 days (and counting left) of The 2000s I’d like to at least try and find something nice to say about the decade.

Thinking back on where we were ten years ago, I can’t help but to recall the excitement yet trepidation with which we looked to the future. The 2000s were upon us! The Capital F Future was on its way! We were all very excited because we had a feeling that The Future was gonna look something like this:

Even though it’s been 9 years since the dawn of The New Millennium, to me the phrase the year 2000 will always have a futuristic ring to it. That phrase represented, for many generations, our hopes, dreams and fears for the forseeable yet distant future.  The 2000s decade may not have come to fruition in ways that our forebears had hoped (alas, no flying cars yet) and is instead being defined by the crises and challenges that came to a head in these years.  But perhaps we can also come to appreciate these strange and trying years for the opportunities they presented to us. I know for me, it’s most often through adversity and change that I learn who it is I really am and who it is I’d like to be.

The newspapers and media outlets scramble to assign a name or a definition to the years 2000 and beyond. But how do you define the decade? What has the New Millennium meant to you thus far?

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Oct 2 2009

Library of the Future?

by Jesse M

library-without-books “When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books.’’

So says James Tracy, headmaster of Cushing Academy, a prep school located west of Boston with a student population of about 420. It is a radical statement, and one which is being followed to what some would consider a radical conclusion: the gradual transition from a 20,000 volume collection to a mostly bookless, digital library. Despite the small size of the school, the announcement has made waves throughout the library world ever since being reported on by The Boston Globe on September 4. Much of the reaction has been negative. Jessamyn West of Librarian.net writes that she is “skeptical”” of the idea. Commenting on the school’s decision to spend $10,000 to purchase 18 Kindle Readers to replace the library’s collection of books, Keith Michael Fiels, executive director of the American Library Association, worried that “unless every student has a Kindle and an unlimited budget, I don’t see how that need is going to be met.’’ Author Nicholas Basbanes had very little positive to say in an article for finebooksmagazine.com entitled Philistines at the Gate, wherein he suggested that college admission officers might look askance at an application from a student at a school “that does not require its students to read books at all”.

Criticism of the plan is not limited to those outside of Cushing. Liz Vezina, Director of the Fisher-Watkins Library and librarian at Cushing for 17 years, expressed dismay. “I’m going to miss them…there’s something lost when they’re virtual…the smell, the feel, the physicality of a book is something really special.’’

[read the rest of this post…]

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