amazon chat 1

I looked at the PlayStation 3 preorder page on amazon the other day and noticed something different. By the product’s picture, there was a link reading “Chat with friends about this product.” When clicked, users can choose a product and enter into an associated chat room by signing in with their amazon account information.

There are plenty of categories related to consumer electronics, but also included are sections for a number of genres of books. Am I behind the times or is this feature relatively new? (Note: I’m guessing it is new because I tried to make it work on two machines with two different browsers, and it failed consistently. Anyone get it to work?)

You all can probably see where I’m headed, but I’m not saying that libraries should consider doing something like this simply because a commercial entity is doing it. No, libraries are too special to blindly mimic the commercial world. I am saying that talking about books is (at least partially) our turf, and hate to think of us losing ground. I wonder if amazon will have people actively chatting about books online, just like I’ve seen on p2p file sharing networks. Does that possibility make you feel like we’re not meeting the needs of some book discussers?

do i know you? 0

Something struck me as my friends and I were killing time during the (god-awful aneurysm inducing) commercials before a film last night. We were paying absolutely no mind to each other (nor the commercials). I realized that we were all using our phones when one friend exclaimed to another, “My tetris is better than your tetris.” Looking up from my screen, I saw that we weren’t the only people on our phones.

I think that this anecdote affirms what Jenny wrote the other day:

A bet: if you’re under age 35, you probably will do just what the survey says and take your phone, use it during parties, and communicate while multitasking F2F (face to face). If you’re over age 35, you probably view this behavior as rude and you don’t want to be interrupted by phone messages (text or voice) during F2F parties.

A generalization that will naturally have exceptions, but I think we’re getting to the point where the U.S. is starting to catch up to the numbers in this article….

Meanwhile, there are reports of kids ignoring more than commercials.

This is a film that invokes awe, but totally fails to induce it. At the screening I attended, most of the young audience spent the second half text-messaging friends.[via]

Libraries have a significant opportunity to increase their cultural relevancy by responding to this information trend. How should we respond? A start would be having mobile friendly websites and reference availability via text messaging.

google sms 0

google’s latest offering appears to be google sms. this makes me excited.

Proposed uses for the service, according to google, are:

-Get local business listings when you’re on the road and want to find a place to eat
-Compare online product prices with ones you find in retail stores
-Look up dictionary definitions to expand your vocabulary or prove a point
-Find other specialized types of information, as described in how to use Google SMS

To send your google sms queries to 46645, which is GOOGL on most phones.

As soon as I get into an area with cell service (i.e. not the library) I’m going to check it out.

press release from google blog
how to use google sms

more competition 2 and Sprint PCS have teamed up to offer audiobooks on phones. This is exciting but nerve-racking. It would sure be terrible if people thought about getting digital audiobooks on their phone before getting them through a library.

Read “Audible and Sprint Debut Co-Marketing Program with Availability of the Sprint PCS Vision Smart Device SP-i600 By Samsung” from Business Wire [via]

once bitten 0

Have you ever said something that you wish you could take back? That’s how I think many libraries feel about the whole eBook fiasco. Certainly that issue doesn’t need to be rehashed here, but I do want to mention an impact that I percieve it has had on technology in libraries. Namely, I think that libraries are slightly nervous to stick their necks out again.

Perhaps we can use the eBook event to learn about how we should think about acquiring new technologies. Wouldn’t you agree that eBooks were largely pushed by the people selling them? It wasn’t the case that readers were clammering for them. In fact, the late 90s incarnation of eBook readers were met with resistance from readers. People, including many librarians, hated them. Sure, libraries should guide their patrons through the process of exploring new technologies, but shouldn’t (and cannot successfully) force technologies. Think here of OPACs and many older users. They are still talking about not having the card catalog. This is what happens when we try to mandate the use of technologies.

Libraries cannot, however, be blind to present or upcoming consumer driven trends in technology. The mp3 (or other similar digital audio formats*) certainly falls within this category. EBook readers were never heavily featured in the adverts from every consumer electronics store. There were some, but nowhere near how mp3 players are being featured. People are using this technology. The audiobook (in tape and CD format) is already proven as viable and necessary format for libraries to circulate.

These facts indicate that exploring books on mp3 as a format isn’t that risky. Certainly the technology will mature a bit more, but the biggest changes will be the pricing, DRM, circulation, and download models that are available to libraries.

If you think your administration might be resistant to the idea of books on mp3 at your library, and you think that your community would use the format, perhaps some of these thoughts can help you convince them otherwise.

**For instance: .wav, .aac, .ogg, .wma, .shn, .ape. It is not crucial to know how these all differ, but it is important to realize that an mp3 file extention (.mp3) isn’t the only type of digitial audio format going around.