Lost Identity – The assimiliation of digital libraries into the web

"The idea of Digital Libraries emerged in the early 1990s from a vision of a “library of the future”, without walls and open 24 hours a day. These digital libraries would leverage the substantial investments of federal funding in the Internet and advanced computing for the benefit of the entire population. The world’s knowledge would be a key press away for everyone no matter where their location. This vision led to substantial levels of funding from federal agencies, foundations, and other organizations for research into fundamental technical problems related to networked information and deployment of the results of this research in numerous digital library applications. The result was a number of exciting and influential technical innovations.

But, the attempt to transplant the library to the online environment met with some unexpected obstacles. The funding agencies and many of the members of the digital library research community mainly focused on the technical issues related to online information. In general, they assumed that the new technology would be applied in a largely traditional (library) context, and largely ignored the profound social, economic, cultural, and political impact of turning “books (and other information resources) into bytes”. The extent of this impact was demonstrated by the concurrent evolution of the World Wide Web, a networked information system not bound by legacy institutional conventions and practices or funding agency mandates and, therefore, able to organically evolve in response to the profoundly democratizing effect of putting information online. This has provided the context for the recent revolution in the web known as Web 2.0, a participatory information environment that contradicts most of the core assumptions of the traditional library information environment. The overwhelming adoption of the Web 2.0 model for both popular culture and serious information exchange and the increased evidence of the efficacy of this model for activities such as learning and scholarship

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Posted by: marind