More on “Future Libraries”

Walt Crawford was kind enough to point out to me that he has recently published a 10-year retrospective of his own on Digital Libraries: Dreams, Madness & Reality. Unsurprisingly, his view of how FLDMR has aged is more specific (and more insightful) than mine but I think they align reasonably well.
With regard to the strong statement in FLDMR that “Electronic methods are best for ‘housekeeping’ and for giving access to data and small, discrete packets of textual, numeric, and visual information (such as those found in many reference works)… print-on-paper is and will be the preeminent medium for the communication of cumulative knowledge.” Crawford now hedges:

I’ll stand by the last sentence, but the digital/analog split has become fuzzy over time. Specifically, the digital realm as just-in-time distribution method for medium-length narrative in the form of journal and magazine articles has proven far more important to libraries than we could have guessed in 1994. Some would claim that most readers read those journal articles on screen. I believe many students skim through articles in electronic form to find chunks to cut and paste, and that they may glean reasonably good understanding of the sense of the articles. For all I know, maybe KTD really are different and do gain full comprehension from the screen while multitasking up a storm, although I’m still not convinced.

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