Thursday, March 24, 2011

HANDHELD LIBRARIAN III: The State of Mobile Connectivity

Lee Rainie is the Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, a non-profit, non–partisan “fact tank” that studies the social impact of the internet. Since December 1999, the Washington D.C. research center has examined how people’s internet use affects their families, communities, health care, education, civic and political life, and work places. Pew is not about "fixing", "promoting" or "thwarting" the Internet, it just looks at its impact.

Due to the Internet, access to information has changed in four main ways:

  1. Volume: information is much easier to find than in the past, but sometimes it's more than you want.
  2. Velocity: information comes faster than when waiting for the evening news or the daily newspaper. Also, you can find out stories that are important to you, not just the big news.
  3. Vibrancy: information is multimedia and interactive.
  4. Relevance: information seeking can be tailored to your interests.

In addition to changing information-seeking behavior, the Internet encourages people to become content creators. 2/3 of adults have created content to share online (3/4 of teenagers):

  • 62% belong to social networking sites
  • 50% share photos
  • 33% create tags
  • 32% rank & rate things
  • 30% share personal creations
  • 14% are bloggers
  • 12% use Twitter--mostly young people
  • 4% use location-sharing services

85% of Americans have cellphones. It is the fastest-growing technology in history of the world. 57% connect to the internet wirelessly, either by laptop or cellphone or both. Interestingly, African-Americans and Latinos are more likely to access Internet wirelessly and use more functions of the cell phone. 1/3 of Americans don't have broadband Internet-- usually people who are poor, speak English as a second language, rural, or less educated--so the digital divide is still a big issue.

Use of mobile devices:
  • 35% have apps, 24% use apps
  • 76% take pictures
  • 74% text (more text than talk in 2009--frequency)
  • 42% browse Internet
  • 38% email
  • 35% IM
Ownership of devices:
  • 55% laptops
  • 50% DVR
  • 45% Mp3 players
  • 42% game consoles
  • 7% ebook readers
  • 6% tablets

People are stressed by volume of info in their lives--social networks are "sentries" that tell them what is important in the world, evaluate information for them, and give them forums for action. Librarians can be "nodes" in social networks and provide help & information.

What libraries can offer:

  • Navigation literacy--as the volume grows
  • Connections & context literacy--finding sources and making connections
  • Skepticism
  • Showing value of contemplative time--multitasking isn't as effective as some people think
  • Instruction in how to create content
  • Instruction in how to be a good online citizen
  • Content for patrons' devices
  • Curating information online, not just their own collections

In short, librarians can be digital life/citizenship coaches.

Slides are here and an archived version of the webinar is here (requires latest version of Flash).

--Andrea @Central

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