Thursday, August 25, 2005

Michael Gorman at LITA in Portland, 2000

With Michael Gorman scheduled to speak at the upcoming LITA Forum in San Jose, It seems a good time to pull out an old report I wrote about his keynote speech at the forum five years ago in Portland.

"High Tech/High Touch: The Human Aspects of Technology."

The presentation "Human Values in a Technological Age" by Michael Gorman, formerly Head of Technical Services at the University of Illinois Library, now at California State University, Fresno, opened the forum. Gorman, who was the editor of Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd ed., author of The Concise AACR2, 3rd ed., and a founding member of LITA, asked listeners to put our time of change into a historical context. He said that people have always seen themselves as modern and have always lived in a time of great change; our era is not revolutionary in that sense. He went on to describe the period between 1890 and 1910, pointing out that nearly every major technical innovation of the twentieth century (including computers and telecommunications) had its beginnings in that period. That period was particularly known for development of transportation, which he felt had changed our world more profoundly than computers ever will. In both of the eras, technological changes have worked (at least in the short course) to make the rich richer and poor poorer. The third world always falls farther behind and becomes an easy victim to exploitation by the stronger nations. With this in mind, he urged us to control technological change and make it work for a better civilization. He urged us to be active using technology to provide library access to all. Gray-haired, impeccably dressed, and British, Gorman radiated sincerity, sophistication, and scholarship, and was the perfect keynote speaker.

I hope we can all put aside recent controversies and enjoy another Gorman presentation at LITA.

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