Have you noticed lately that a lot of things are being called “dead” — as in no longer relevant or meaningful. Here’s some examples of what I’m seeing:
- Print is dead. Long live print.
- Hierarchy is dead. Work is no longer command and control, but collaborative.
- “The Web is Dead. Long Live the Internet” was the cover of the August 2010 issue of Wired magazine
- Search is dead.
- Is Knowledge Management Dead?
- Earth is dead. In the book Eaarth by Bill McKibbens claims that we need a new name for our planet, as the Earth we knew no longer exists due to the high impact of human habitation.
- Advertising is dead. Long live Advertising.
The whole point of this hyperbole is that, whether discussing print, traditional advertising, or our expectations of knowledge management, we need to look at things with fresh eyes against a new backdrop. The economic meltdown of 2008-2009 shifted our expectations of “normal.” Technological advances related to “big data,” social networking, and cloud computing have changed the way we work and play.
I’d like to add another victim to the metaphor: SLA is dead. Long live SLA.
SLA had its 100th anniversary in 2009. It was a pivot point in many ways as we had a robust discussion around the possibility of changing our name. After many emails, twitters and Facebook posts, the vote was to keep the name the same. I would argue that just having had the discussion, we re-evaluated the definition of a the information professional in the 21st century.
Information professionals no longer use the information search tools that we did even five years ago. And, with the rise of the web, the client’s expectations about our deliverables and the value of our products and services have shifted dramatically. Finally, the breadth of what we do is more encompassing, as SLA members move into embedded positions, into knowledge management, competitive intelligence, information technology, and market research.
So with new tools, tougher deliverables, and an engaged, demanding clients, we need to look at ourselves differently. We need to set bolder expectations and take our appropriate place in the new information landscape.
Long live the new SLA.