The InfoPosse -- Inc's team of crack corporate librarians -- reports each month on what's notable in the world of corporate information.
It's 2010. Bring on the Designer Babies: Want to attempt the time-travel exercise on page 72? Ian Pearson has an abundance of grist for your mill. The official "futurologist" of British Telecommunications' Communications Consultancy Group periodically creates timelines to help his employers with long-term strategy. BT has generously made Pearson's most recent prognostications -- which visualize life in the year 2020 -- available at www.sc-server1.bt.com/bttj/tomorrow/index.htm. His predictions range wide, covering everything from transportation (driverless-truck convoys) to medicine (brain "add-ons") to toys (smart Barbies with personality chips and full sensory input). Entrepreneurs will come away with a craniumful of ideas for business opportunities. How about a company that videotapes operations for inclusion in patients' medical records? Or one specializing in robotic plant care for people who are too lazy to water their philodendrons? Makeup by numbers, anyone? Pearson makes all the requisite disclaimers about his predictions' accuracy, but InfoPosse member Genevieve Foskett points to an article in Library Futures Quarterly that says previous versions of his report scored a hit rate of 85%. "I can't imagine a more comprehensive jumping-off point for brainstorming about the future," says Foskett.
"It is even possible that some of our friends may be synthetic. Since many of our relationships will be net based, we won't even necessarily know which of our friends are synthetic."
Speaking of Speaking: If you never present in public or speak in private; don't write reports, memos, or refrigerator notes; would sell your grandmother up the river rather than controvert a single rule of grammar learned in 10th grade; and hate reading smart, funny prose, then by all means forgo the purchase of Arthur Plotnik's The Elements of Expression (iUniverse.com, 1996). The rest of us, however, can learn a lot from Plotnik's irreverent alternative to Strunk and White. Plotnik wants readers to appreciate the rhythm and nuance of expressive language, whether written by Ezra Pound ("Nothing is worth publishing if it is not of the first intensity") or snarled by Chuck Norris ("When I want your advice, I'll beat it out of you"). For public speakers, he suggests slowly repeating the opening lines of the novel Lolita and listening to recordings of professional raconteurs like Spalding Gray. "Plotnik shows readers how to powerfully and precisely express their thoughts and feelings," says InfoPosse member Lisa Guedea CarreÑo. " The Elements of Expression is so funny and eccentric, it seems a shame to hide it away in the reference section."
Secret Agencies: For every Office of Homeland Security that grabs headlines as soon as it's been created, dozens of government agencies are born and raised in obscurity. What do you know about the U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision? The Surface Transportation Board? What if you suddenly have to deal with one of them or countless others? No problem if you have the United States Government Manual. Published every two years, the handbook (available on-line at www.access.gpo.gov/nara/nara001.html) includes both brief histories and current programs for agencies associated with all areas of government and the military. There are also listings for independent establishments, government corporations, boards, commissions and committees, quasi-official agencies, and selected multilateral and bilateral organizations. "My company deals with regulations and government agencies all the time, and this helps us navigate what has become a very complex map," says InfoPosse member Lisa Zwickey. "We couldn't do without it."
The InfoPosse members are Genevieve Foskett, corporate librarian at Highsmith Inc.; Lisa Guedea CarreÑo, library director at Goshen College; Christine Klein, a corporate librarian with more than a dozen years of experience; and Lisa A. Zwickey, senior research specialist at J.J. Keller & Associates.
The Whole New Business Catalog
IncQuery: In Search of the Dream Business
Marketing: Honeys, Hand Me a Polygamy Porter
Hands On: The Right Fit
Benefits: Taming the Health-Care Monster
Hands On: Not-So-Bright Ideas
Strategies: Radical Sabbaticals
Search: It's 2010. Bring on the Designer Babies
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