(This was planned for the pandemic shutdowns, but it definitely resonates now that we’re, as Dr. Fauci says, not in an extreme pandemic phase and are considering the “new normal”)
What does it mean to have a new normal? The past 20+ years have generally been ones of intense, rapid change. When I went to graduate school we were doing database searches using CD-ROMs and paying-per-search, learning HTML hardcoding, and generally inching into the world of digital resources. The library still looked and felt very much like the one I’d used in high school, which looked like my parents’ and grandparents’ high school libraries. Cell phones weren’t popular, faxing was still common, and “sneakerware” was huge. Our social divides weren’t as obvious.
Within ten years, that had changed. In twenty? and thirty? Almost unrecognizable. The world my students inhabit would have been unimaginable to teenage me, and vice versa. There have been many times over the decades I’ve questioned the pace of change and the “requirement” for certain technologies.
As we emerge from the Great Pause, what do we want to take with us? What should we keep (not just in terms of technology or, as George Carlin says, stuff) but as a society? What can and should we change – it’s still not too late to go slowly and consider/reconsider.