My newest print article, “The Future Still Awaits Us: Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity on Wall Street,” is published in the July-August 2009 issue of Searcher. There’s a very attractive robot on the cover.
The article looks at the concept of the Singularity, which in this context surmises that machines will overtake human intelligence, with an effect so profound we cannot even imagine what life will be like after the event. I suggest that automated financial trading, which contributed to the current economic crisis, may be a sign that the Singularity is approaching.
In his 1999 book, The Age of Spiritual Machines, Ray Kurzweil predicted events in 2009, 2019, 2029 and 2099, with a chapter for each year and also in a time line format. In a sidebar to my article, I look at all of the 2009 Time Line predictions and evaluate their accuracy. In addition, I have categorized his predictions for the four years so readers can easily see Kurzweil’s evolving vision. I believe this is to date the most thorough published analysis of Kurzweil’s 2009 Time Line predictions.
Another sidebar discusses environmental or horizon scanning as a futurist technique well suited to librarians. The article includes further resources and a reference list.
My latest print article, “Beyond Findability: Organizing Information in the Age of the Miscellaneous,” is now available in the February 2009 issue of Searcher.
In addition to discussing logic discrepancies in David Weinberger’s book Everything Is Miscellaneous, the article addresses the value of arranged information for reasons other than findability. The organizing process itself often leads to new knowledge. Like any form of communication, organized information expresses a knowledge perspective. The presentation of that perspective can be a valuable service to users. Physical arrangements of organized information are often symmetrical, perhaps neurologically enhancing knowledge acquisition. The article opens with a description of Michael Wesch’s video, Information R/evolution,” which implies that libraries still use typewriters.
Subsequent to publishing the article, I discovered I am not the only one thinking “Beyond Findability.” On October 31, Jonathan Young published “Beyond Findability: The Search for Active Intelligence” on ZDNet News. Young is a Senior Research Engineer at Attivio. His article is about the future of search engines, “As we move beyond the search box (the ‘user interface of last resort’), enterprise search solutions are beginning to support many different search modalities, including exploratory search, information discovery, and information synthesis.”
On March 18, “Beyond Findability: Reframing IA Practice & Strategy for Turbulent Times” will be a pre-conference workshop at the ASIST Information Architecture Summit. The workshop is sponsored by the Information Architecture Institute with co-presenters Andrew Hinton, Livia Labate, Joe Lamantia and Matthew Milan,. They will be discussing the future of information architecture and user design, looking at “new, emerging ideas that have shown promise ‘in the wild’ of design practice.”
Michael Wesch will be a keynote speaker at the Summit, so we’ve got a circle going here. This year the Summit is at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, a great venue. If you attend, be sure to check out the ducks.