Monday, October 18, 2010

Personal Floating Libraries

rose, outside of the library building


Something slotted into place for me last week, perhaps prompted by this article and this Amazon page. Suddenly I caught a glimpse of where this crazy information world is going:

We're all going to have our own personal libraries in the cloud that we can access anywhere and at any time. This portable collection can be built over a lifetime. It is not format or device-specific, but instead is compatible with multiple platforms and hardware.

All we're waiting for is ubiquitous connectivity (for when we don't have the object we need on hand), and many people already have that, almost -- you can see them becoming disoriented when they wander out of signal range.

While this type of collection seems very possible, I doubt it will be free, and that is where libraries can come in. What we need are digital objects that will self-destruct after a set amount of time. When certain objects (copies of a digital original) reach a set expiration date, they can disappear -- from all locations except the original. Is it naive to imagine something like this, with libraries still part of the picture? I can easily imagine appreciating a temporary, loaned digital object as a user, because I wouldn't want just anything included in my personal floating library, even if it were possible.

Or has this ship passed libraries by? I notice that the word 'library' in certain contexts means something different from what it used to. And when the word library is brought up in a media-related conversation, it often means an individual, customized collection of digital objects. Maybe the future is already here.

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