Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Notes from Gadgets: Personal Electronics for your Library (a webinar from WebJunction)

I have just been dragged into the 21st century via a webinar that purported to talk about Gadgets, and ended up being a 603-(yes, that is not a misprint)-way conversation in chat.
While the presenter was talking to us, there was a live chat stream going on the right hand side of the screen and while the presenter was talking quite a few of the participants were holding their own conversations about their own favorites, preferences and experiences with those gadgets. And to top it all off, many of those same participants were also tweeting at the same time. It amazed even the presenter and staff taking part in the webinar.

The presenter, Jason Griffey, is the head of library information technology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and author of the April issue of Library Technology Reports on the topic of "Gadgets and Gizmos". He is also a blogger.

His part of the presentation was basically an overview of the new tablet style of personal electronics. Since that was his focus, much of the 55 minute presentation felt like an extended commercial for the iPad. But some of the points he made are enumerated here.

1) Since the advent of these personal devices, the container and the content have become separate issues. In the good old days, a book was both container and content. Now there might be many separate containers which house the same content in different ways.

2) Media used to be one discrete medium-either text or video or audio. In the near future, a lot of content may be multimedia.

3) What used to be simply read is now heading towards interactivity....when people can change, or even create content with the container, it changes the game of librarianship significantly.

4) With the advent of the new tablets, your display and your interface are the same, there are no external parts, such as a keyboard or mouse. This brings in a new era of portability for everyone. Jason believes that touch electronics are the way all electronics will be in the future. The participants in the chat were not so sure.

5) Over the course of the next 12 months there will be no less than a dozen competitors for the iPad coming out. Of those he talked about, there is only one that may actually be a serious competitor, in his opinion. That device will be from Google and will be running ChromeOS. Google is also hoping to make these devices cheap enough to be "disposable". If they get it right, they might just have a breakthrough device on their hands, which will successfully challenge the iPad.

6) The price for e-readers is going to plummet in the next 12-18 months, because of the demand for tablets instead of readers. (Can you imagine buying a $50 e-reader and loading it with 300 classic titles and circulating that e-reader? How would you do it? How many would you need to keep up with demand?)

For those of you interested, here's the link to the whole shooting match... (chat transcript and all). Have fun!


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