Page 23

innovation at the individual level, and innovation by its nature is unpredictable.

One possible outcome is that, to the extent that distance and time lose importance, it will become possible to do good research anywhere, without losing access to the necessary information tools. However, the significance of this effect remains to be seen; researchers at poorer colleges and universities are likely to lag those in richer institutions in gaining access to the new digital tools.

Another possible result is a shift in emphasis of scientific research, farther from more-or-less direct observation of nature toward observation that is mediated by the available instruments, networks, and databases on the world's information networks. We may also confidently predict a growing reliance on computer simulation as an adjunct to experimentation.

The extent to which the university campus will lose its relevance to scientific research as virtual communities of scholars evolve is uncertain. Researchers and administrators have been discussing the impacts for a decade or more (see, for example, Lenzer, 1977; National Research Council, 1993, 1994, 1996; Sproull and Kiesler, 1991; Casper, 1995; Noam, 1995; Wulf, 1995; Casper et al., 1998; O'Donnell, 1998; and the Vision 2010 project supported by the Carnegie Foundation ]). It is clear that many of the functions of the local campus (such as the traditional library and some of the delivery of “mass market” undergraduate and technical education) are being threatened by information technology.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement