Thursday, 9 June 2011

Changing roles, changing futures

Websites are on the way out. One day very soon (now?) when people look for information online their first instinct will be to turn to social media and try to find out what ‘thought leaders’ are saying about their topic. The tweets, blogs, facebook pages etc of respected experts will be seen as more up-to-date and more useful than old fashioned websites. The search engines of the future will be based on this new model. This is the prediction of CILIP vice president and information guru Phil Bradley.

Mr Bradley outlined this vision of a social media dominated future at a talk I recently attended in Woking. The event was hosted by CILIP South East / CILIP in Surrey. The talk was preceded by their joint AGM.

In immediate terms the practical consequence of this vision is that if you want to be taken seriously as an information professional in the future than you need to start building up a professional online presence, and you need to start doing it now.

So essentially I went all the way to Woking to have an expert reinforce my vague background sense of guilt about letting this blog gather dust. Still it has worked so he must have been convincing. I might even try and tweet more than once every couple of months.

I have been slightly wary of blogging about this talk because he talked about searching for his own name to see what people were saying about him (and presumably to pick up comic material about his namesakes but I won’t ruin that for you). Bit silly to worry about that when presumably being mentioned on librarianship blogs helps to reinforce his position as a ‘thought leader’, not that he needs any help with that.

On the negative side members of the audience did raise the issue of privacy concerns in a world where social media shapes our access to information. Phil’s response was that he personally had decided to make everything about him available online but that might not be appropriate for everyone. I’m not sure where that gets you if you are concerned about privacy. Is the subtext that you might simply be out of luck?

A more positive take would be that we all have to make conscious decisions about how we manage our online presence.

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