Editor's note: This post is adapted from the introduction to Jason Griffey’s new Library Technology Report “Gadgets and Gizmos: Libraries and the Post-PC Era.” Jason revisits the technologies that he highlighted in his 2010 report. And he beats himself up a bit over it. Help him let go of the past; excuse him from predicting the future; and join him in discussing the gadgets your patrons are using today: Jason will be presenting a two-part workshop on May 10 and May 24.
Way back in April 2010, Library Technology Reports published “Gadgets and Gizmos: Personal Electronics and the Library,” but it was January of the same year when I turned in the manuscript for editing and effectively locked down the content. Nearly every single thing about it is now irrelevant at best, and downright ridiculous at worst.
The iPad gets small mention in that original report, but only because it had been announced just a week or so before the manuscript was locked down for publication. I published a guide to technology that missed the biggest tech shift of the decade and talked about how companies like Copia, Plastic Logic, Spring Design, Blio, Flip, and Zune might be ones to watch.
Boy, did I ever screw that up.
Copia and Blio have become also-rans in the e-book race, with the major providers (Amazon and Barnes and Noble, with a side of Apple) effectively owning the market for e-books.
The Plastic Logic QUE e-reader and the Spring Design Alex were dead out of the gate, with the QUE never even being released to the public as a product.
Microsoft finally killed its Zune products this year.
Flip was purchased by Cisco and subsequently killed.
The portable video camera market is mostly getting consumed by the cellular phone, as is the pocket camera market.
Of some 23 gadgets that I mentioned in my original report, at best and being very kind to myself, only 8 or so are viable products that I would still recommend purchasing.
I can’t claim to be Nostradamus, but I pay a lot of attention to these things. And if I screwed it all up as badly as all that, what hope does someone who couldn’t tell a Kindle from a Nook have?
That’s why it’s more important than ever that libraries and librarians act as information filters for their community. When patrons ask if they should buy the new Kindle they heard about, someone in your library needs to be able to answer basic questions about it. That person should try to provide some resources that might help patrons determine if the Kindle or the Nook is a better fit for their reading habits, or if they should splurge and get that iPad thing they’ve been seeing the commercials for.
In my previous Library Technology Report on gadgets, I identified three reasons why libraries should be paying attention to these technologies:
- Patrons use them and increasingly expect libraries to be aware of them.
- They often change the nature of information interactions.
- They provide interesting opportunities for the delivery of content, something libraries should always be interested in.
Presenting on the topic of gadgets has helped me distill my message down to its essence: Experiences become expectations.
Our patrons are increasingly coming to expect that our resources will be available and easily used on their devices. Libraries are the democratizers of information. As information is increasingly amorphous digital content, we need to be familiar with the containers that give our digital bits form and substance. Being democratizers of technology, as well, ensures that everyone has the ability to use the latest and greatest in electronics.