October 4, 2022

What Pace Progress?

hyperguideOver 30 years ago I led a team at the UC Berkeley Libraries to use HyperCard to create a library orientation guide. This project, which we did not know at the time, formed the foundation of our web design work to follow in the early 1990s.

What saddens me is that 30 years on I don’t think we have actually made a lot of progress.

Hypermedia was a transformative idea that got its start with products like HyperCard, but then exploded around the world with the advent of the World Wide Web. No one can refute the revolutionary nature of that change.

But what has happened since seems more like incremental changes around the edges. Sure, now everyone uses Javascript, CSS, and other technologies that didn’t even exist in the early days of the web, but the user interaction is mostly the same with the added benefit of more interactivity.

But where is the next revolution? Is it linked data? Maybe, but we have yet to experience some really revolutionary changes in what we do or how we do it. Perhaps soon. That’s the thing about revolutions. You don’t always know it’s coming until you’re right in the middle of it. All I know, is that the next revolutionary change in our world has been a long, long time coming.

Roy Tennant About Roy Tennant

Roy Tennant is a Senior Program Officer for OCLC Research. He is the owner of the Web4Lib and XML4Lib electronic discussions, and the creator and editor of Current Cites, a current awareness newsletter published every month since 1990. His books include "Technology in Libraries: Essays in Honor of Anne Grodzins Lipow" (2008), "Managing the Digital Library" (2004), "XML in Libraries" (2002), "Practical HTML: A Self-Paced Tutorial" (1996), and "Crossing the Internet Threshold: An Instructional Handbook" (1993). Roy wrote a monthly column on digital libraries for Library Journal for a decade and has written numerous articles in other professional journals. In 2003, he received the American Library Association's LITA/Library Hi Tech Award for Excellence in Communication for Continuing Education. Follow him on Twitter @rtennant.