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THE PIPELINE: Did You Hear That? The Internet Firmament Is Shifting

By Stephen Abram - Posted Jan 1, 2008
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Fall 2007: Two months that shook our world!

Wheee! (or Wii!) Life is a roller coaster. Halo wasn’t the only game shaking the world last fall.

In autumn 2006, while I was traveling a lot around the world, I managed to experience a 6.7 earthquake in Hawaii and a huge snowstorm in Buffalo. The internet, nevertheless, looked much the same upon my return. However, this past autumn 2007, it was even more fun as I circumnavigated the globe again, visiting all types of schools and libraries. There were two large earthquakes, scary and disastrous fires, Santa Ana winds, crazy sports fans in Australia, and all of this before returning home to the start of the Canadian winter, not exactly unknown for its epic dreariness. However, I digress.

The weather reports weren’t the scariest part of recent news for school librarians. There were also the economic stories headlining the news. U.S. national debt was forecasted to increase by trillions of dollars owing to borrowing abroad to cover the high costs of war on many fronts (and this was affecting the entire global economy). And the sub-prime mortgage meltdown was causing the demise of several key financial leaders as well as contributing to the decline of the U.S. dollar against most world currencies. Tie this to oil heading to more than $100 a barrel and, well, you get the message.

For those of us who had tidily held our memories of the ’80s recession in the recesses of our minds, the old fears have started to return. We remember what happened to our sector when fiscal crises at the national and international level trickled down into publicly financed institutions. It wasn’t pretty. And we’d gotten quite used to a period of continuous economic expansion for decades—by some estimates one of the most peaceful and longest expansionist economies in modern history. Is this the end of that happy time that we are witnessing—war, pandemics, depression?—emerging not with a bang but a whimper? I am writing this column just after Halloween and the news is scarier than the costumes on the street!

Now, the world economy is scary, but that’s not the point of this column. The world economy is not what really frightened me as the colors of the leaves turned. No, for me, as a librarian with a passion for information, learning, and community, that wasn’t what scared me and caused me to rethink my view of our prospects as educators and the window of opportunity we have for success in the new world order. I was more concerned by a few weeks’ worth of news that, I think and feel, may have changed our prospects for the future.

Events to Consider

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This article is available in its entirety in a variety of formats — Preview (free), Full Text, Text+Graphics, and Page Image PDF — on a pay-per-view basis, courtesy of ITI's InfoCentral. CLICK HERE.


 
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