Kristen Yarmey-Tyuutki spoke yesterday afternoon at Internet Librarian 2009 about the relationship between libraries and students with smart phones. Her motivation for part of her presentation is based upon some group’s prediction that smart phones will become the main tool for student research by 2020. A decade seems a long expanse for accurate prediction. Who knows what new toys will attract young people by 2020? Back in, say, 1998, did you know anyone who predicted something like the iPhone by 2008? Some of the audience reading this might be too young to remember some extremely wise people who as late as 1988 were still warning the world about the dangerous grip of the Soviet Union, and those wise people expected that grip to continue indefinitely. By 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall, those expectations looked like the ideological manifestations they were from the beginning. Not that one erroneous prediction undoes the possible accuracy of all predictions. My point is that acting on predictions that are precarious might not be the best use of our energies.
When one of the presenters on the panel, a woman from University of California at Irvine, revealed (at the end of her presentation) that only about 0.5% of people tracked on the UC-Irvine’s library system happened to be mobile phone users, that did not diminish her faith in the 2020 prediction about smart phone usage. Now, she will run smack into the face of those who believe another prediction involving 2012, and if those people are right, none of us will even see 2020. The Mayans will have won, and they did not have smart phones.
In Texas, the mobile device we worry about students having is a gun on campus. Some people believe that we will all be safer if students are armed while conducting their library research, etc. They predict that should a killer come on campus, the best solution will be for students to pull out their mobile devices and begin shooting. The more people who are shooting, the more likely that the killer will be taken out. That prediction sounds questionable too. I feel less shamed about this digression after Paul Holdengraber’s statement that digressions are the sunshine in narrative.
I plan to attend IL2020, and will eat crow when the conference theme is devoted to the triumph of the smart phone.