use a mobile device for authentic text communication

One theme I noticed at Internet Librarian 2008 was authenticity. I heard at many different presentations that we should be aiming for having authentic conversations with people on websites, be authentic in our marketing efforts, and be authentic when communicating via IM or SMS. I’d even argue that since our OPACs are becoming ghettoized, abnormal piles of data, the rays of hope discovery systems such as SOPAC 2 and VuFind are all about providing normal, authentic web experiences. I agree with all of this talk about authenticity and think that librarians should be celebrating it. After all, isn’t it easier and more fun to just be ourselves rather than to speak with an Official Institutional Voice?

Anyways, during their presentation on text message reference I was hoping that Joe Murphy and Ellen Peterson would give us their recommendation about the best tools to use for the job. Joe recommended the simplest and probably the cheapest option at the best: just using a mobile device. While I have no experience communicating with patrons via SMS, I think this is right on. Why complicate things and remove librarians from the authentic experience? It is probably more difficult to write overly long messages on an actual mobile device than with email to SMS software.

That being said, I’m interested in take a look at the new Text A Librarian product that combines IM, SMS and multi-site/multi-librarian queuing. The Librarian In Black called that the “holy grail” and wrote about the software too.

Here are Ellen and Joe’s slides:

P.S. Be sure to click through on Ellen’s name above to the Blogger site that she’s set up for her students to use as a point of contact. Nifty.

One thought on “use a mobile device for authentic text communication”

  1. great points about authenticity – this is a good lens to look at the world through. i’m a little stuck on how it applies to text messaging, though.

    i simply don’t understand (which isn’t to say there might not be truth to it) why people would prefer to text people they know are using a mobile device. some case studies in this area would be valuable.

    it is pretty well documented/researched that virtual reference users prefer to know who they are communicating with, which (for me) is a better explanation for why a device-based sms service might be better than something like for a departmental library.

    the funny thing to me is that in many cases pretending to be a patrons’ personal friend is the one of the least authentic experiences we can offer.

    most successful websites i can think of enhance, or in some cases are complimented by, face-to-face relationships and it is great to see this in action in reference using *any* communication mode.

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