Infomancy n. 1.The field of magic related to the conjuring of information from the chaos of the universe. 2.The collection of terms, queries, and actions related to the retrieval of information from arcane sources.

21st Century Databases

October 9th, 2009 by infomancy

From the SLJ Summit: Database companies are looking at “the future of digital content and how they plan to support 21st century learning through seamless interface, widgets, adding more geographical relevance, making databases more interactive, and appealing to emergent readers.” [SLJ]

Or, they could spend more time on gathering/creating top-notch content (what we really want from them) and then figure out some sort of an industry consortium model for a single, shared interface. That way we aren’t paying each of 10 or so companies for doing interface development work. This was especially obvious when five companies sat on a panel reporting on their progress towards creating a spell-check for their products. Do they each need to labor to reinvent the wheel? Furthermore, each time a company changes their interface to differentiate themselves from their competition, we end up having to re-teach yet another interface design instead of focusing on content.

As came from a discussion during that panel, the first step is probably for information providers to work together to identify common data elements for an XML schema. By having common elements (like “title,” “grade level,” etc.) it will be easier to integrate content with widgets and other third-party interfaces.

After that, it is probably time for the database vendors to make a tough decision. Are they going to be 21st century content providers or 21st century interface designers? I am not convinced that a single company will be able to tackle both of these massive tasks concurrently.

One Response to “21st Century Databases”

  1. Rachael Says:


    And they should advertise their products in major media outlets, and I don’t mean cryptic NPR underwriting statements.