First let me start with the important caveat that I am not one of those techie types who think we need to abandon our commitment to patron privacy. I simply think we need to rethink it and consider our mid-twentieth century understanding of privacy in light of contemporary reality.Take this statement:"...consumers stored more than 6 exabytes of new data (yearly) on devices such as PCs and notebooks. One exabyte of data is the equivalent of more than 4,000 times the information stored in the US Library of Congress"
(executive report version)All of our competitors in the information market are racing to utilize this content. One of the reasons we are so behind Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon is not simply financial. It is also our unwillingness to utilize this and any patron data. This specific data is called Big Data, because of it's massive size. Similarly, nanodata will also be mined and put to use improving efficiency and user experiences everywhere- except libraries.
Libraries seem to be shooting themselves in both feet by not even considering harvesting all the usable patron data. I know that some ILSs are allowing patrons to "opt in" and let us collect basic info about their reading behavior and make suggestions, but this is tip of the iceberg stuff. Amazon solved that puzzle almost twenty years ago, but we are still in the beta test mode when the rest of the relevant world has adopted and moved on a long time ago.It is no mystery why we are so behind when we wont deploy basic applications that have been current for almost two decades. Which brings to mind the most frequent question I get from new librarians and LIS students: "Why is my degree so irrelevant?"
The answer is that we are still functioning and operating from an organizational culture based in the early to mid-twentieth century. We need system wide reassessment of our Ethics and Bill of Rights as well as the core intellectual components of the degree. And it needs to start from the top down, not the bottom up. I am fairly certain that the answer will surprise many of my fellow techies, because they assume our
picture of the future is the only option, but I personally think we need to carry over many of the values and principles from the past. We just need to reinterpret them for the present and the future so that we stop the dangerous and self destructive process I describe above. I think everyone is in for a surprise if we honestly and systematically approach the challenges before us.