Last week, I attended the Mid-Atlantic Futures Conference held in Atlantic City, NJ. Four other School of Communication and Information students and I attended this exciting two-day event thanks to a scholarship provided by the Library and Information Science Department and were accompanied by two SC&I instructors, Dr. Ross Todd and Dr. Joyce Valenza. The gathering was a great way to come together with like-minded library professionals and discover how libraries can thrive in a world full of ever-changing technology and vast information.
The main question posed by the conference was, “How do we predict the future?” Among those trying to answer were keynote speakers Kevin Mitnick, the most elusive computer hacker in history; David Pescovitz, the research director at the Institute of the Future; Nicole Baker Rosa from the Future Schools; and Rutgers’ own Dr. James Hughes, University Professor and former dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. Each speaker touched on the importance of knowing what libraries are and what they stand for, as well as keeping their eyes open not for trends, but for patterns that will point to the next big thing. There was a lot of discussion about artificial intelligence and virtual and augmented reality, and how they will affect both libraries and society. Acceleration strategist Phil Bowermaster proposed that the convergence of information and society is accelerating change, while communication specialist Rakia Reynolds shared a communication strategy that is both noticeable and disruptive. Finally, Cindy Ball from Oculus Rift gave a demonstration of a virtual reality future that may be much closer than we think.
So, how do we predict the future? We create it–with knowledge and imagination.
I would like to thank Lilia Pavlovsky, director of the Master of Information program, who facilitated this opportunity for me, as well as Andy Martinez and Janet Croft for giving me approval to attend.