The world is at the dawn of a new industrial revolution that will fundamentally change the way we live and work. Many consider this the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). While the First Industrial Revolution (1IR) mechanized production using water and steam power, the second one brought mass production using electric power, and the third one was characterized by automation and digitization, mainly using electronics and information technology.
The 4IR is building upon the third one, but the difference and its main contribution is the fusion of technologies that are blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological worlds. This is further enhanced by the emerging progress of technology in fields such as quantum computing, machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual assistants, the Internet of Things, self-driving cars, drones, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, traffic, and security monitoring systems, and renewable energy.
Article published by the GreyNet in the latest issue of An International Journal on Grey Literature (The Grey Journal – TGJ), examines the potential impact of the emerging 4IR on grey literature (GL). It is based on analysis of the most prevalent current trends and developments in “cyber-physical systems” that connect machines, computers, and people. It will examine the need to rethink the definition of GL, its creation and publication types, processing, sustainability, and usability. Given the magnitude of the potential impact of the 4IR on GL, the question is what challenges the 4IR will pose to GL managers.
One could assume that the acquisition of new knowledge and skills, and the revamping of existing processes and methods will be necessary. Becoming aware of this new phenomenon is only the beginning. It needs to be followed up by professional development and adequate training. Finally, the job of GL professionals will be to promote and publicize the usefulness and importance of GL, not only in their daily work but also in research and science.