Digital Libraries '94 Keynote Address

Paul Evan Peters
Executive Director,
Coalition for Networked Information
21 Dupont Circle
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202.296.5098
Fax: 202.872.0884
Email: Notes for the address:


A number of things are on my mind as I stand before you this evening.

"Digital Library Research and Development at the Dawn of the Meso-Electronic Period."

The dawn of the meso-electronic period.

For some time I have be in the grip of the idea that we are hard into what is best thought of as human-kind's paleo-electronic period. Consider ...

Now, though, it seems like we are on the threshold of what can be productively though of as human-kind's meso-electronic period.

To my way of thinking, we are clearly at the end of the period in which cheap stunts, brillant hacks, and acts of ignorance or desperation were the principal ways for creating useful and affordable network resources and services.

The social construction of the information highway.

Metaphor are wheels for the mind, and we've seem an extraordinary number of them used and abused in this area.

Beyond metaphors of the information highway (=how we think about it) there's the social construction of the information highway (= what we expect from it).

The Clinton Administration's NII initiative will not determine the 'personality of the networked environment,' it will be determined by it.

The most important "is" to which folks like us have access is the Internet. We need to begin to think of the Internet as the incubator of networking applications that (1) serve research and education communities in general, and that (2) support scholarly and scientific communication and publication in specific.

I am now ready to close with six brief personal observations about digital library research and development I that are best thought of as excusable presemption by an after-dinner, conference kick-off speaker ... who is, after all, but Einstein's chauffeur.

It's a Network, Stupid!

Assume that the cost of logic and bandwidth (= the transport and delivery system) is not the controlling cost

Assume that predator / prey relationships will be reversed in networked information environments.

Design for the Sega Genesys Generation.

Never forget that folks are much better prepared to reward 'time to market' than they are 'quality to market.'

Play pass on the belief in 'disintermediation.'