Tuesday, 23 September 2008


Today could well be a watershed in mobile technologies. The first phone running Google Android has been announced - T-Mobile's G1. Android is absolutely a new approach - the hardware is just a platform for the software and User Interface. This in itself isn't really that different from Microsoft have traditionally offered - and puts google right opposite Apple (the iPhone is a total hardware/software solution and Apple have taken steps to tightly control that software).

I don't think that google will cause a revolution for mobile use but I do think it adds fuel to the evolution that Nokia, Windows Mobile and the iPhone have been part of, and in this post I'm going to take a deep breath of realism and explore some of the issues that might well affect libraries in a 'mobile age'.

The web is a platform -  the mobile web as a separate approach is coming to an end. We need to move to technologies and systems which work on all kinds of devices- and we need to start now. This has some significant impacts on our catalogue technologies and especially on the navigation structures we have in place for our web content.

Geography is important - we can assume that phones will be location sensitive (GPS most likely) and we need to see if our services can be delivered spatially. People are beginning to expect maps on the web but the need for kml delivered via web and local applications is not far away.

Little Bits for Short Attention Spans - Don't worry, there's no criticism of the web ruining our ability to think long-term from me. My gut feeling is that we just value our attention more - and will no longer spend it on things which we can get in shorter time. We need to think about how we can present our resources in small 'bits' which people can consume on the move or in "attention gaps".

A SIM for Everything - One of the principles behind IPv6 was that more devices would be coming on line over the next 5-10 years and that these would all need IP addresses. The 3G SIM is likely to be the gateway to in-car, mobile and embedded networked connectivity and we need to think ahead to what might have a SIM in it in the future? In some ways it's hard to think of what won't... certainly any environment in which you spend any significant period of time will probably be home to a connected device.

Every part of our industry - from system vendors down to content makers - has to start thinking now about mobile technologies. Text message reminders for loans is all well and good but we have to provide our services in a more agnostic way to allow us promote use on mobile devices into the future - who knows what form they'll take.

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