In her book The Connective Edge, Jean Lipman-Blumen refers to the problem of technological change in the following terms:
Nuclear energy, computers, satellite tv, lasers and biotechnology, organ transplants, space exploration and the emerging information superhighway: all these and more have forced us to recognise the reality of interlocking human and technological systems. We have finally come to see the world as a single, albeit complicated, system, one immense set of interrelated pieces. In this new Connective Era, our old commitment to stubborn individualism is approaching its Waterloo. Autonomy as we know it is virtually archaic. Increasingly, nations, institutions, and individuals live in a postautonomous world.
The information profession is a subset in this construct, and in this issue of Ariadne connectivity is an appropriate refrain.
1997 saw the publication of documents which reflected this idea in different ways. Two of these are featured in Ariadne 14. Both the LIC research proposals reported in Checkout and also The People's Network, reviewed on the cover, might eventually be seen as seminal documents in the foundation of a truly national network that opens up access to information for all. Kelly Russell, in her report on the CNI conference puts developments in an international context and identifies some features shared by UK work and projects in other countries.
A few years ago Computers in Librarie carried an article by Kirk Doran entitled The Internot: Helping Library Patrons Understand What the Internet is Not (Yet). In the main feature, Les Watson asks how we use technology in general as part of the learning process and concludes that the answer is 'not very well'. He argues that the proper use of technology not only transforms access to education but can give it a perspective tailored to meet individual needs, so maybe as our networks get better and Doran's problems disappear we can also find ways in which Lipman-Blumen's old attitude of 'stubborn individualism' can co-exist alongside interdependence and connectivity. Mel Collier's hopes for the future reflect this, and Chris Batt shows what it all might look like.