|OLOR Series:||ROLE Reviews|
|Original Publication Date:||15 March 2019|
This review was originally published in Research in Online Literacy, vol. 2, no. 1 (2019).
Keeping Up with Emerging Technologies: A Standards-Based Guide provides a succinct yet comprehensive overview of techniques and tools useful for staying abreast of new developments in the world of technology. The author, Nicole Hennig, incorporates lessons learned while working at MIT Libraries with interdisciplinary experts and information from academic resources to provide tried-and-true real-world methods for staying informed and integrating new technologies into your workplace.
The bulk of the book is devoted to presenting abstract descriptions of the strategies and tools Hennig recommends, coupled with specific concrete examples of each. This is the best possible approach: not only does it ensure the reader understands exactly what is recommended, it “future-proofs” the book against changes in the technology landscape. For example, Feedly might not be around forever, but some type of RSS-based news aggregation tool almost certainly will be, and Hennig’s advice can apply to any of them, now or in the future. For the time being, all the specific resources discussed throughout the book—books, articles, software, websites, mobile apps—are collected in the final chapter for quick reference without having to re-skim chapters or hunt through the index. This “resource guide” is organized by area of interest or goal: how to skim text, retain information, and deal with change; how to learn from popular culture, science fiction, trend reports, and development strategies; how to persuade people, present information, and hire employees; and how to think about ethics, diversity, accessibility, and user experience during your work—among others.
Perhaps the book’s only major failing is that it actually manages to sell itself short: it’s targeted towards the niche field of “information professionals” like librarians, archivists, and records managers. Despite Hennig’s frequent exhortations to borrow from other fields—in the section on implementing new technologies, for example, she introduces the Agile software development methodology as possible inspiration—she never seems to make the connection that her advice could be useful far beyond the confines of a library. It’s not an exaggeration to say that nearly anyone in the modern world could benefit from at least some of the ideas presented in the book, and for anyone in a technology-focused field, it’s filled with nearly invaluable advice. The book is so thorough, even someone who considers themselves well-versed in the cutting edge of technology would likely find new avenues to explore and new ways to distill knowledge from the endless sea of information we find ourselves adrift in every day.
Keeping Up with Emerging Technologies is highly recommended for anyone in the target audience of information professionals and those who work with them or train them, but more broadly for anyone who needs to stay abreast of new developments or who’s responsible for integrating new technologies in a workplace, regardless of industry or affiliation.