Leading Edge Resources: Leaps in Technology and Access to Information

Information and Solutions. The Internet has resulted in an explosion of sources of information. Just "google" adaptive technology and the deluge will begin. Two challenges for the future could help make information more accessible and useful.

One challenge is the cost of getting access to research information. For instance, Johns Hopkins University alumni can subscribe to Hopkins KnowledgeNET. This web-based service offers different levels of free access to hundreds of journals, newspapers and e-books, and fee-based access to an expanded set of resources. The Enhanced Service offers thousands of full-text journals from licensed sources in business, education, engineering, humanities, international studies, medicine, nursing, public health, music, science and social studies. It also offers access to e-books from leading publishers such as Harvard University Press, MIT Press, and The Johns Hopkins University Press. The Enhanced Service provides fax, toll-free telephone, and e-mail access to a dedicated Hopkins Knowledge NET librarian. A one-year subscription to the Enhanced Service is only $125.

Imagine if there were a collaborative effort among disability organization to create a similar KnowledgeNET that was free to individuals, families and advocates?

A second challenge is moving from information to solutions. The amount of information available free of charge is overwhelming. The real challenge is sorting through it and finding solutions. For many, nothing will replace the power of sitting down with people who share a common interest, all of whom have collected information, and sorting through it together to come up with solutions. That is why all sorts of training events, workshops and conferences work well. Big changes in the system have emerged because small groups of individuals, families and advocates have worked through information together. With daily advances in Internet technology and lowering costs, it is becoming increasingly possible to do "face-to-face" meetings around the world.

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