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Keynote given at the NFAIS 2018 meeting in Alexandria, Virginia, USA on 28 February 2018
The world of information is transforming at a bewildering pace. The assumptions of yesterday, the stable institutions and cherished practices increasingly seem to be vanishing before our eyes. The first assumption of any new strategy seems to be “what would this look like if we built it from scratch, today”. And yet continuity matters, we don’t build new tools, institutions and practices from scratch, they evolve in a messy and contingent way from what we have available to us in the moment.
In this talk, Neylon unpicks the underlying drivers of change, and how they are coupled to a long history of how we manage information. Neylon will discuss how the different perspectives of important groups—scholars, publishers, funders, platform providers and the myriad of information professionals—lead to a partial focus that can make us simultaneously fearful of the change we see and blind to the shifts that actually matter.
If the arc of history bends towards justice then it follows that the arc of our knowledge and information environment necessarily bends towards greater scale and greater diversity. At the same time it is the values that underpin scholarship and the various ways in which we identify with the project of building knowledge, that drive us forward. If we are to take advantage of change, we need to understand what it is that must stay the same.