fbpx

Special Librarians

ToolboxToronto is a beautiful city and home of the world’s tallest building. I am fortunate to be there today for the second time in eight months. The flight arrived at 8:15 AM and there was zero wait to get through customs and immigration — quite unlike my prior visit. The occasion is to attend the annual conference of the Special Libraries Association (SLA).
The SLA was founded in 1909 and represents the interests of thousands of information professionals in over eighty countries worldwide. We have all known at least one librarian in our lives, but the SLA consists of "special" librarians. What makes them special is that they are professionally trained to collect, analyze, evaluate, package, and disseminate information to help other professionals, managers, and executives make better decisions. They operate in corporate, academic, and government settings. Go to the SLA site to get a flavor of the conference and the attendees.
Don Tapscott gave the opening keynote this morning and it was outstanding. I have known Don for a dozen years or so and always found him to be way ahead of the curve. He is widely credited with coining the term "paradigm shift" and he wrote a book about it in 1994 called Paradigm Shift: The New Promise of Information Technology. Don’s newest book is called The Naked Corporation : How the Age of Transparency Will Revolutionize Business, and that was the subject of his keynote.
His basic point was that the organizations have no place to hide these days. They can, and should become much more open and they will benefit as a result. Don cited four major factors which are causing transparency. First of course is technology, primarily the Internet. I call it the "pervasive Internet". Don called it the "hypernet". The second factor is economic shifts, including outsourcing (I call it outflanking). Third is a set of demographic changes — mainly that the current generation of kids is the first to grow up digital. The last factor he talked about is a shift in socio-political capabilities whereby people see what is going on, tell others about it, and form organizations to do something about it. Don then reviewed some of the major impacts on the various stakeholders including employees who know more than ever, partners who are figuring out that if they share more they can can do more together, customers who are empowering themselves with information, shareholders who have access to almost everything, and communities which are forming stakeholder webs. He wrapped up with a discussion of the values that organizations need to embrace: honesty, consideration, accountability, and openness. I think his new book will be a very interesting read.
Tonight, I will be part of a gathering of Knovel Corporation‘s customers and guests. As usual, I will focus on the Future of the Internet.