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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Security and Technology

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, April 16, 2006

Security and technology have emerged as two topics of great debate in our society today.


Security has grown to include both physical security in a world of terrorism, and security within the rapidly expanding world offered by technology.


Technology is a broad term used to cover computers, the Internet, and all the expanded capabilities of the gadgets of our world today.


Put the two together, and a subject emerges that covers a multitude of topics.


In the library world, I could never have predicted in my Library School training of the 1970s that our profession would be dealing with, and addressing the topic.


As I view the issue of technology, I see the world divided into two categories by age.


The under-30 age population has experienced technology their whole life, and accept technology simply as part of the fabric of the world.


The over-30 age population, combined with their parents, has experienced the greatest expansion of technology the world has ever experienced.


The refinement of technology in the past 20 years has forced the over-30 age to "acquire" knowledge by learning, and change basic methods of operating in the world.


That is the primary difference in my view, technology that is part of life vs. technology that has been learned.


There appears to be a correlation with the 1974 breakup of the public telephone companies.


Communication with the telephone was simply handled as a public utility.


The Ohio Bell Telephone Company provided a public service of communication, and everything you needed for the service was provided at a regulated cost.


Many of us remember the dial telephone centrally located in our homes, as there was only one in the house.


Today, the over-30 crowd still considers that home phone connected to the world by a wire to be the "real phone."  The under-30 crowd walks around with their only phone in their pocket.


The over-30 crowd has learned to use e-mail, but likely checks the spelling and grammar, and views e-mail as a different way of letter writing.


The under-30 crowd uses e-mail as rapid communication, supplanted with text messaging on whatever the latest small device affords to the world.


My over-30 population is suspicious of e-mail even though we use it, since we receive all the junk advertising stocks, insurances, drug sales, and all sorts of odd things.


The under-30 population simply deletes junk mail, and activates software to scrub them out of their life.


And here is where security and technology together crashes into our society.


The under-30 crowd uses technology without consideration for the bigger picture of where that information is going and who can see and use it.


And libraries try to address the needs of both groups with circulation desks and real people, combined with an Internet presence and technology tools.


We can lament about days gone by, but the fact is that our society isn't going to go backward.


Technology can only "fix" security problems of the here and now, by tomorrow it will need another "fix."


The answer is that the over and under-30 people need to learn from each other, and parents need to communicate with their children.


Have you noticed that all of the Ma Bells that were broken apart in the 1970s seem to be coming back together with some old familiar names reappearing on our bills?