This year will be different. The theme, “Net Initiatives for Tough Times,” means that some people will be foregrounding a link between the economy and technology, something that has been absent, for the most part, in previous conferences here in Monterey. Granted, many of the usual suspects have not changed their session titles or their approach to thinking about technology, but a few sessions address specifically a world in which global capitalism has not been kind to librarians or anyone else. We might be experiencing a new awakening at IL2009. The presuppositions might no longer be that the most important things in people lives are new outfits for their Second Life avatars or fancy extension cords with multiple outlets that encourage social networking (e.g., sharing outlets with other energy hungry users at airports). That last example is not an invention. Someone really mentioned such a thing last year. This year’s program makes it look as if some people realize that many other people in North America have a difficult time paying their bills, are overextended on credit, can no longer afford the latest gadget, and perhaps still cannot afford a broadband connection.
The IL crowd, in general, still does not look behind the economic and political curtain when recommending new technologies. People do not question recommending Facebook, even though the political bent of Facebook’s founders is well known. No one seems concerned that Google has been involved in censorship and in succumbing to the darker motives of the Patriot Act. IL participants embraced Second Life without seeing its Linden dollars as a version of the derivatives that Wall Street traders used to fuel the debt crisis. Maybe IL2009 will bring with it a different, wider vision. Do not expect a sea change. The best forecast we might be able to hope for is Partly Cloudy with a Continuation of the Usual Meatballs. Still, the fog mighth have lifted.