Monday, June 06, 2005

Inspiring Words at First Day of SLA

Opening General Session today was with speaker Don Tapscott, President of New Paradigm Learning Corp. He is known for his recent book The Naked Corporation and for coining various phrases including "the paradigm shift".

He spoke about transparency in organizations, and how changes in four major areas are converging to cause this move towards transparency:

1. technology

New tools: Google, blogs, wikis, the "hypernet" (highly linked Internet), RFID, WIFI, WI-Max, increased bandwidth

2. economy

companies are going through the biggest change, in that vertically integrated corporations are becoming unbundled. What used to be inside the boundaries of the corporation are now outside the boundaries, being handled between the corporations. There is a need for transparency between organizations.

3. demographics

The first generation to grow up digital is now coming into play. Among other things, they are great at detecting insincerity and false statements; they are a huge force for transparency.

4. socio-political

Increasing global interdependence; while we have no world government, there are several global corporations that drive a good part of the world economy. It is only "civil foundation" that is keeping this balanced.

Tapscott outlined several obstacles to transparency, but overall he says that librarians (information professionals) can play a leading role in driving this transparency. We can inform those in our organizations, especially with regard to who their stakeholders are:
- employees
- business partners
- customers
- shareholders
- communities

I particularly enjoyed Tapscott's Canadian examples (he works in Toronto) and his dynamic speaking ability.

Did anyone else have other impressions of the talk? The room was quite amazing--thousands of librarians, and four large screens running the talk. Overall they say there are at least 5,000 attendees at this conference. Biggest one I've ever been to!

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