Getting Oriented

I was sitting in an auditorium yesterday. It was packed with people all waiting for their orientation to begin so that it could be over and they could eat the free pizza and cookies they had been promised. Every person of the hundreds present were in graduate school. I couldn’t help but marvel at how incredible that statement would have been even fifty years ago.

Hundreds of people all partaking in a level of education that was reserved for only a very small group of highly dedicated individuals for much of the 20th century. If I’m being honest, it made me feel pretty secure in my current professional aspirations. In a world of so many highly educated people, how important must the information specialist be in the coming years. How important they must be already.

I spent a few moments in blissful self-congratulation before I looked at that a bit harder. This incredible gathering of aspiring specialists were not simply the victims of credentialism or a poor economy. We are all living in a far more complex world that offers an immense amount of technology. That technology can ‘complexify’ just as much as it clarifies but it does clarify.

I thought about something I’d heard about vaguely, in the way one can only vaguely hear something through social media. This apparition of an idea said that humanities jobs were one of the few safe ones in the coming years since machines were likely to be able to handle most everything in math and science. I’m certainly not saying I take that with anything more than an exceptionally small grain of salt. Still, the looming Luddite horror of the growing power of the digital era bears thinking about.

How much has technology muscled into the turf of the information professional? How many present in that room would never consult a librarian but instead cling to Great Mother Google to guide them? It made me feel curious about the realities of today and the future. It made me consider the role that a person can have in world of such infinite complexity and specialty. In short, I felt like I was getting oriented to think seriously about information.