In the mind of optimists, new computing and communications technologies are hard at work smoothing the path towards an ideal future. For pessimists, they combine to seduce us into activities which will ultimately ruin us because of the prevalence of foolish optimism.
In our profession, it is possible to be either optimistic or pessimistic about the changes which are occurring. What we cannot simply assume, however, is that any of the key professional concerns of the last hundred years have simply disappeared from the agenda. In this issue, both the cover article by Anne Ramsden , and our interview with the Secretary General of the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society in View from the Hill , confirm the centrality of copyright in the electronic era. Not only will it not go away, but significant progress is being made in the creation of new systems to cope with its management, and optimists should be encouraged by the potential afforded to authors to control their rights. Meanwhile, pessimists will point to the fact that certain publishers are already trying to persuade authors to surrender all rights to them in perpetuity.
Then there is bibliographic description. Will search engines and metadata standards replace the laboriously crafted cataloguing rules and classification schemes which have been at the core of our profession for over a century? Both Gordon Dunsire, our Minotaur , and Trevor Haywood in our main feature article , have their doubts.