Digital futures

Chris Batt, PhD Researcher, School of Information Studies, University College London

“It is becoming increasingly apparent that the challenges we face now and in the coming decades cannot be adequately addressed by simply doing more of what we have been doing up to now. We have largely based our actions and our interventions to date on a traditional enlightenment image of the way the world works – and the results of our well-intentioned actions leave a lot to be desired.”

International Futures Forum

Evolution, Revolution, Extinction:

What future for museums, libraries and archives?

Ever wondered what the future will be like? What the roller coaster of digital determinism will do to us all over the next 40 years? What will be the role of cherished institutions such as museums, libraries and archives? Will we still have schools and universities as we know them today?

More important, is there anything to do other than wait around to see what happens? Are there ways to increase our understanding of possible scenarios for the future that might help us today to influence how the future might unfold?

These are the kinds of questions that I have been thinking about for a long time and now have the chance to examine with a view to finding some answers. It is my contention that successful societies in the future will depend on much wider and easier access to the kinds of knowledge resources that libraries, museums and archives current curate and disclose to their users; to the knowledge creation, learning and skills that are the roles of universities, colleges and schools; and the informal learning and informational roles of public service broadcasters.

The title of my research project is Public Knowledge Collections in the Network Society. I am examining the future relevance of existing institutions service models for the effective delivery of digitally-based services, with the intention to develop tools that will help practitioners and professionals to take a more strategic view of the challenges and opportunities that they will surely face.