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Risk, Reality, & the Mobile Revolution [Transcript]


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Keynote presentation delivered July 28, 2010
Handheld Librarian Online Conference III

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Risk, Reality, & the Mobile Revolution [Transcript]

  1. 1. Risk, Reality, & the Mobile Revolution Lisa Carlucci Thomas Keynote session for the Handheld Librarian Online Conference III - July 28, 2010 This is a transcript of a keynote talk given at the Handheld Librarian Online Conference. For a list of references, see: Follow along with the slideshow - each numbered section corresponds with a slide: 1. Introduction 2. Uncertain times Whether you count your experience in months, years, or decades - you know firsthand how libraries are changing and the forces that are influencing such change. The migration to digital content and delivery; collaborative creative production and social media; crowd-sourced development of resources; ubiquitous, customizable data streams, and, nearly instantaneous, point-of-need access to a seemingly infinite amount of information: y has set new expectations about how, when, and where someone can access content y has prompted fresh skepticism about the library s place and function in this environment y has presented libraries, and thus librarians, with significant challenges to adapt, and adapt quickly. This talk will address the RISK, REALITY, and MOBILE REVOLUTION in the context of our institutions and in our profession. It will highlight current challenges to adapting and expanding services and discuss the new roles that are emerging as librarians become active participants in the mobile world. 3. Let s begin with a look at where we are right now. Thomas, Lisa Carlucci. Risk, Reality, & the Mobile Revolution. Handheld Librarian Online Conference III. 28 Jul 2010. -1-
  2. 2. In a recent poll, the popular technology new site Mashable asked readers Which do you prefer: e-books or print books? - Majority voted for print [Printed books 41.9% (898 votes)] The second place answer was Tie: Both have their advantages [34.86% (747 votes)] With ebooks in last place: [E-books 23.24% [(498 votes)] - rec d half as many votes as print. Is this surprising? Let s look at another example. Two weeks ago, the Old Spice Guy - that marketing marvel - responded to a Twitter post by New Jersey librarian Andy Woodworth prompting him to to say a few words regarding libraries. The Old Spice Guy replied with aplomb. That s easy, he said. Libraries are filled with books. Books. While Old Spice Guy s message extended beyond books, to include the sharing and conveying of information and library s place in that, many librarians re-tweeted and shared the link to the video, remarking that LIBRARIES ARE MORE THAN JUST BOOKS. 4. Of course, we know this is true. Libraries as institutions offer unique services and support found nowhere else. And library collections include numerous resources, in multiple formats beyond printed text: e.g. licensed databases, born digital and digitized items, archives and ephemera, and multimedia resources, such as videos. The Hartford Courant Newspaper reported the results of a recent OCLC study, which found that libraries circulate more videos daily than Netflix, Blockbuster, or Redbox. An average 2.1 million videos every day nationwide. In Connecticut, videos amount to 27% of public library collections and many libraries purchase multiple copies of hit movies to meet demand. Video collections have doubled in the last decade, while print collections have declined. Yet, libraries are not generally considered video outlets. Connecticut Library Association president Debbie Herman sums up why: People think we're all about books....but we have all these other resources to offer." The mere mention of libraries stirs a nostalgic soup of teeming stacks, quiet reading rooms, and Thomas, Lisa Carlucci. Risk, Reality, & the Mobile Revolution. Handheld Librarian Online Conference III. 28 Jul 2010. -2-
  3. 3. neatly organized card catalogs for many readers. Yet we as librarians know, the modern reality is quite different from that model. Libraries present technologically up-to-date information resources to meet new demands, yet continue to be defined by outdated assumptions. These assumptions, both internal and external to the profession, restrict our ability to dynamically respond to change. Instead of supporting a unified mission, we suffer a fracturing of professional identity, and label ourselves techies or non-techies , in support of the new or old ways of being. Libraries as institutions languish in this debate. Whether or not we agree about mode of delivery, we must agree that access to information in all forms is paramount, and keep ourselves and our profession current as the information society advances. We must also engage our boards, donors, legislators, and communities in this dialog to modernize expectations about what we already do, and what s needed to do it better. 5. Fortunately, as you may have heard, the next big pop-culture wave after cupcakes might be libraries. NPR cites several reasons for this prediction: Libraries get into fights: for equal access to information, for adequate funding, patron privacy, and more. Have you see Jane Austen Fight Club? Just like those high society characters, librarians are shaking things up for the greater good. Librarians know stuff. We work hard to organize and facilitate access to resources, and advocate for freedom of information, ethical practices, and fair use. Libraries are green, local, and open to all. Libraries are community focused by design, and serve and provide an essential foundation for a literate citizenry. In short, LIBRARIES TAKE RISKS. Librarians take risks. Exploring the value of new technologies is one of those risks. 6. Today s conference is focused on library and information services to handheld devices a hot topic in all respects, and an especially controversial topic at a time when library budgets are tighter than ever. The Handheld Librarian conference celebrates its first anniversary this month a year ago, demand for the conference crashed the technology and subsequent interest and developments prompted organizers to arrange a mid-year sequel, instead of waiting a full 12 months. Consider how much has changed since July 2009. Thomas, Lisa Carlucci. Risk, Reality, & the Mobile Revolution. Handheld Librarian Online Conference III. 28 Jul 2010. -3-
  4. 4. 7. New Devices Smartphones proliferated: Apple faced real competition from Palm Pre, Blackberry Storm, Motorola Droid, and HTC Evo, the first 4G smartphone in the US market. Didn t slow Apple down instead, following last year s iPhone 3GS, Apple introduced the iPad, and iPhone 4 this year, along with the iBooks, FaceTime video calling, and other features far ahead of its competitors. Ereaders, such as the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook continued to rise in popularity as consumer prices dropped and new social features were added and many new models and applications were introduced. Ereader devices, software and technology dominated the International Consumer Electronics Show last January in Las Vegas, and the Consumer Electronics Association projected that 5 million ereaders of all types would be sold this year (double last year s sales). However, this preceded the introduction of Apple's iPad, which already has sold 3 million units to date this year. Demand and opportunity are rising faster than anyone can easily predict. Vendors and publishers are seeking new ways to tap into this burgeoning market B&N recently announced NookStudy an etextbook application which will allow users to organize and access class materials, textbooks, and notes all on one platform. And more and more publishers are taking leap toward mobile platforms. 8. Where do libraries fit in the context of these changes? Librarians must be able to explore these trends and experiment with opportunities that may be useful to their communities. There is no one-size-fits all solution, but there is a critical need to budget time and staff for research and service development, beyond professional development. 9. Only...the reality is: Professional development and minimal technological ability are essential to understanding mobile trends and considering their local relevance. It goes beyond training or an occasional staff day the organizational culture must first embrace the value of measured risk to progress, and integrate technology training into a series of teachable moments. The current wave of interest in geolocation provides an example. Thomas, Lisa Carlucci. Risk, Reality, & the Mobile Revolution. Handheld Librarian Online Conference III. 28 Jul 2010. -4-
  5. 5. 10. Foursquare was launched at SXSW conference, March 2009. Just one year later, Foursquare reached one million users. Just this month, announced that users exceed one million check ins per day. Yet, six months ago, it wasn t yet on our professional radar. One colleague said it was too easy to become mayor of local venues, in particular, their own library. That s hardly a problem now in many places. Foursquare and its competitors, such as Gowalla, rely on an incentivized social interactions to spark interest among communities of users, and grow. In the library world, the spark caught on around and after the January 2010 ALA Midwinter conference, when colleagues such as Kenley Neufield and David Lee King blogged about the opportunities geo-social information sharing might present to libraries. Many librarians signed up for Foursquare and Gowalla after learning about it from their peers at the conference. The conference provided the right mix of innovative culture and low risk opportunity and, thus, we were able to learn together by doing. 11. Since then: increased interest in the possibilities for libraries using these services, and librarians are exploring their worth locally. Yet, it s always a gamble. Information sharing through geo-social networks create significant privacy considerations that we re just beginning to understand. No surprise, as we re still learning about how to manage privacy and our digital lives online, after 6 years of Facebook, and 12 years of Google. 12. NY Times Magazine this week: featured article The Web Means the End of Forgetting - which explored the ways that the Internet for better and worse is becoming a record of our activities over our lifetimes, shackling us to everything that we have ever said or done. 13. If The Web Means the End of Forgetting then, the mobile geo-social web may be the beginning of forgetting that privacy was ever an option. Librarians, as advocates for freedom of information AND privacy AND promoting literacy skills in their communities should consider the opportunity of developing information programs about best practices for life in the mobile environment. 14. That, too, may be a risky proposition. Thomas, Lisa Carlucci. Risk, Reality, & the Mobile Revolution. Handheld Librarian Online Conference III. 28 Jul 2010. -5-
  6. 6. One person s thrill is another person s danger it s up to libraries to define and present a balanced perspective. We re all learning as we go and taking chances is part of the process. 15. Libraries extend value to the communities they serve, beyond books and reading. In the new information environment, there is greater need than ever before for individuals to understand their relationship to information content, both as producer and consumers. We must consider whether this role falls under our professional purview. (I believe it does). 16. According to the Pew Report on Mobile Access 2010, 40% of adults use their mobile devices to access the internet, send email, or exchange messages an increase of 25% over last year. Yet, how far does this go in promoting access to underserved users? Bobbi Newman, on the Librarian By Day blog, posited that Mobile Phones Are Not The Key to Bridging the Digital Divide and I agree. Mobile access provides new opportunities and convenience. Mobile library services should be considered an extension, not a substitute, for existing services to non-mobile users. 17. Here is where we, as a profession can work together to coordinate our varying interests and integrate programs and services across physical and virtual environments. Polarization and mobbing within our profession due to risk or technology aversion is counterproductive and creates institutional barriers to change. 18. Change is here whether or not we embrace it. In the Wall Street Journal this week : Lost in Translation explored how language influences understanding and encoding of information, specifically related to space, time and causality. 19. The article described how: * Russian speakers, who have more words for light and dark blues, are better able to visually discriminate shades of blue. Thomas, Lisa Carlucci. Risk, Reality, & the Mobile Revolution. Handheld Librarian Online Conference III. 28 Jul 2010. -6-
  7. 7. * Some indigenous languages rely north, south, east and west, rather than left and right, and as thus have great spatial orientation. * In Spanish and Japanese, languages where the agent of causality is dropped: ("The vase broke itself," rather than "John broke the vase.") Speakers couldn't remember the agents of accidental events as adeptly as English speakers could. 20. Accordingly, this research shows us that the languages we speak not only reflect or express our thoughts, but also shape the very thoughts we wish to express. The structures that exist in our languages profoundly shape how we construct reality. 21. It won t take long before we experience not only a digital divide, but a significant cultural divide between mobile and non-mobile users. (e.g. We re already seeing this emerge. We ve talked about text-speak, abbreviated words and phrases individuals use when sending text messages and we ve seen this spill over into real life. Anecdotal evidence indicates that text abbreviations frequently appear in college papers, and of course in emails and other correspondence. 22. Mobile games and products are becoming mainstream, vernacular - prompting the creation of new words and phrases. Twitter and Facebook have joined Google as common verbs, we now say good morning to our tweeps and vaguebook when we re feeling discreet, or coy. 23. The impact of mobile technologies extends far beyond our budgets and resources. It changes one s view of the information landscape. It is critical for information professionals of all experience levels to learn and develop an understanding of these trends. 24. How do we do that? We apply our critical professional lens to each innovation. And we and take (measured) risks. Thomas, Lisa Carlucci. Risk, Reality, & the Mobile Revolution. Handheld Librarian Online Conference III. 28 Jul 2010. -7-
  8. 8. 25. We leap. We also advocate. We work with IT professional or develop our programming skills. Or if programming isn t for you, identify the trends most closely aligned with your own specialties. 26. Before and after we leap: we investigate. We learn by trying, and by evaluating details up close and personal. We share what we learn. This how we promote the future of libraries one day at time, and maintain not only relevance, but innovation within our profession. 27. Facebook announced this week that is has 500 million users. According to CNN, Facebook has nearly saturated the market in United States and Western Europe become a common way to function and get a lot of normal things done." 28. Facebook topped Yahoo and Google in quick succession earlier this year to become the most popular website in the US and with social networking the most popular use of mobile devices mobile/social content sharing will continue to take over traditional channels. 29. If Facebook were a country, it would be the third most populated nation following China and India, respectively. US would be 4th. Think again about the unique language of mobile culture, and how language influences our understanding and encoding of information. 30. No wonder we can recognize these changes as so important, and yet still find them so confusing. The mobile revolution surrounds us influences our professional products and priorities as well as our personal and interpersonal interactions. So, let s review: 31. The mobile web and rapid changes in information technology have set new expectations about how, when, and where someone can access content. Thomas, Lisa Carlucci. Risk, Reality, & the Mobile Revolution. Handheld Librarian Online Conference III. 28 Jul 2010. -8-
  9. 9. 32. These changes have prompted fresh skepticism about the library s place and function in this environment. 33. And presented libraries, and thus librarians, with significant challenges to adapt. [Risks] 34. Readers still show a preference for our old, analog ways voting for print, even though we know that ereading is beginning to dominate mainstream markets. 35. If libraries experience with video collections is any indication, we should expect multimedia to follow the ebooks trend and soon expect demand for mobile multimedia offerings from libraries. 36. Our culture still embraces and defines libraries as storehouses for books, instead of centers of information exchange across formats. 37. Telecommunications hardware and software environment is constantly changing. We have to take chances, learn what we can, share what we know, and be ready to reinvent ourselves. 38. We need to take on the fight to go beyond nostalgia (and kittens) and advocate for a new understanding about what libraries are today. 39. The organizational culture must have room for what is, and what can be. Is this an inscribed artifact, or a digital object accessible via mobile device? Thomas, Lisa Carlucci. Risk, Reality, & the Mobile Revolution. Handheld Librarian Online Conference III. 28 Jul 2010. -9-
  10. 10. 40. We must work together, mitigate technology aversion, and uphold the values of communication, support, and respect within our profession. 41. There s no one-size-fits all solution. An organizational culture supporting technology learning and innovation is an essential first step toward mobile-friendly library. 42. Exploring tools to help with the heavy lifting is essential. We need to work efficiently, and may turn to our peers and colleagues to help us learn which tools to use, and best practices. [Realities] 43. Different organizations have differing mobile information needs. Public libraries may have greater success circulating mobile devices for popular reading of ebooks or providing reference assistance via SMS. 44. Academic libraries may find that geolocation-enhanced services or devices supporting education oriented platforms offer greater opportunities. Archives may seek to develop augmented reality tools in support of historical documents, or Special Libraries may lobby publishes to deliver content across mobile platforms. Everyone could benefit from a mobile website. 45. If, the Web [truly] Means the End of Forgetting then, the mobile geo-social web may be the beginning of forgetting that privacy existed. Libraries can educate communities about these changes. 46. There is greater need than ever before for individuals to understand their relationship to information content. Learn through play try it on your own this extends beyond our professional lives. Thomas, Lisa Carlucci. Risk, Reality, & the Mobile Revolution. Handheld Librarian Online Conference III. 28 Jul 2010. - 10 -
  11. 11. 47. Mobile users see information through a different lens. Language and culture are developing around and from this new perspective. 48. Old methods are fading from common understanding. Have you ever had to explain radio static to a child? They just don t get it. 49. Mobile technologies present new pathways to information also create distance between different cultural and generational groups. 50. Even the recent past looks like the old way and begins to quickly seem out of date. 51. These are in fact uncertain times. The reality is the risk is part of the business of libraries. Administrators and librarians must evaluate their involvement with mobile-geo-social technologies both institutionally and personally to determine the specific risks and benefits. 52. There are times when there will be no substitute for the old world, old way and technology is harmful, rather than helpful. 53. Likewise, there will always be a place for nostalgia - libraries don t look like this (anymore?). 54. We need to be sure that collective nostalgia doesn t interfere with the very real, and expensive, needs of the modern library. Recent economic reductions pose serious threats. 55. As mobile advocates or at least those interested in handheld library services keep in mind that mobile phones are not the key to bridging the digital divide. That work (equal access to Internet) is far from complete. Thomas, Lisa Carlucci. Risk, Reality, & the Mobile Revolution. Handheld Librarian Online Conference III. 28 Jul 2010. - 11 -
  12. 12. 56. Mobile devices are here to stay. Devices will gain new features and we will gain new skills adaptation being the lead. 57. As info professional, we re experts in organizing and accessing data across formats and platforms, and will continue to thrive in these roles. 58. Even our libraries and services look remarkably different in the next 5, 10, or 20 years. 59. Librarians are already risk-takers, working at capacity. How can we handle the risk of more risk? Even if we re sweeter than cupcakes? 60. We ll take chances. We ll work outside of our comfort zone. 61. We ll demonstrate leadership in the mobile environment and work toward building a culture of professional technological proficiency related to mobile-social devices and platforms. 62. We ll ensure that we have a place and product that suits the needs of our readers, regardless of their content access/delivery preferences. 63. We ll continue to be what we are: Institutions with heart at the heart of communities. 64. With savvy, forward-thinking librarians, leading new centers of information exchange. Thank You. [Q&A] Thomas, Lisa Carlucci. Risk, Reality, & the Mobile Revolution. Handheld Librarian Online Conference III. 28 Jul 2010. - 12 -