Some days, hope is what keeps me going. I hope that these tough times will soften and resolve into a market that is more sustainable. I hope that the promises of the green revolution becomes real, soon. And I hope that librarians and information professionals get through this rough patch more robust than ever.
It’s mid-April and the long, cold winter is fading in the rearview mirror. Maybe the coming spring is a metaphor for general business conditions? First the crocus bloom, then the daffodils, and next come the trilliums.
Likewise, the new administration has infused some energy and enthusiasm into Congress and federal stimulus money appears to be trickling out of Washington, D.C. and into the states. Call me a crazy optimist, but maybe the worst is over?
The English language has many colorful phrases that express our ability to get through a crisis. We find a “safe harbor” or even better, we “ride the storm out.” I always liked that phrase, because it expresses a certain optimism about our expectations for the future. This too shall pass.
But I’m deliberately not taking a fatalistic approach. Nietzsche was famous for proclaiming “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” I’m not so sure that’s the right message for today. Business conditions have buffeted our profession to the point where getting stronger isn’t the only answer. We have to get smarter.
Recently, I talked to a member of the NYC chapter of SLA, where many people have been laid off. In discussing the situation, my colleague said that people had come to the realization that the jobs they lost will not return even when the economy picks up again. Those jobs of the past are gone now and will only reappear when they have morphed into something new.
“I am coming to the conclusion that the market and Mother Nature both hit the wall here in 2008/2009. We need growth, we need ways to raise people’s standards of living, but what will be the new ways we should focus on—post-The Great Disruption—that will allow us to grow people’s living standards in a more sustainable and regenerative way?”
Friedman, while referring to the economy, could have just as easily been referring to the effect that the new wave of social networking tools have had on the information profession.
So here’s my question: Are you feeling the Great Disruption? How are you adapting to it? It takes courage to move forward. How are you doing this? I need to know!
cindy dot romaine at gmail dot com