… or, a couple of random notes that might even come together in the end.
I’ve been reading Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness, which addresses the question: “Why do we so often fail to know what will make us happy in the future?” It’s worth reading as a whole, but talks in part about the fact that when we err in our predictions about the future, it’s almost always because we predict that it will be too much like the present. (His discussion includes a hilarious run-down of “futurism” books from the 50s that depict happy white Donna Reed families in which Dad just happens to go to work each day in his flying car…)
I graduated library school 11 years ago, and remember wondering in the mid-90s if I really did need to spend that monthly fee for a dialup home Internet account. What a difference a decade makes… A while back, my dad sent me a Slate article by David Shenk, author of Data Smog: “The E Decade: Was I Right About the Dangers of the Internet in 1997?” which talks about what he now feels he got wrong — and right — back then. (Wrong: on blogs, right: on too much connectedness.)
Along these lines: when we think about projects like, say, librarians’ presence in Second Life, maybe it’s best to keep an open mind or at least to admit that our perceptions of relevance might change over time — because not doing so is perhaps more a failure of imagination, limited as it is by our present experiences and concerns.