Mobile Phones and Mobile Zones

When I started reading the material for the Mobile Information Environments, I reflected on my own phone usage. In fact, I listened to the lecture podcast while making an hour and a half car trip over the weekend, read most of the readings on my phone while I was waiting for a food order at a restaurant, and watched some ‘explore’ videos before I went to bed. As I thought more about it, I realized that I rarely use my cell phone for traditional communicative purposes. I definitely fit into the Deloitte (2016) demographic study on cell phone usage. However, that was for cell phone users in the United Kingdom. This prompted me to go to good ol’ Pew Research Center. I found an article from 2015 titled 6 facts about Americans and their smartphones. The data from this article show similar findings of my age group using their smartphones the most. I thought that it was interesting that the majority of smartphone users has used their phones for other important information needs; information on health, online banking, real estate, job searching and job applications, government services, and educational content.

Reading Stephens’ Serving the User When and Where They Are: Hyperlinked Libraries (2015) was a good way to introduce some of the mobile device, hyperlinked ideas. As an avid smartphone user, I am aware of the several amenities that are available on cell phones today. However, it is easy to overlook the possibilities of using those amenities to the advantage of the library. I guess even I still have some bad “judging a book by its cover” habits, but I also have yet to see positively reinforced cell phone usage in libraries just as Stephens suggests in Mobile at the Library (2013). Anyway, there were several cool ideas that I had not considered for libraries before such as geolocation, second screen sharing, and mobile gaming environments.

Another idea that captivated my interest was the “Beacon” technology that Ennis (2014) describes. I also have quite a few Bluetooth devices that I use frequently (smartphone, speakers, headphones), but I hardly use the Bluetooth capabilities for interactions with other people or locations. While I think this idea is fun, my immediate worry was being spammed by these beacons. Ennis iterates that the beacons would only work for the people who initially agree to be a part of it, which I think is very important. I have been irritated lately with how many advertisement texts I receive. There is really no way for me to tell what company has my phone number to send me these ads. Overall, I think that the beacon technology would be very helpful for in-the-library, patron-specific purposes like letting a person know when an event is starting or informing people when they still have a book checked out.

Finally, I think the aspect of mobile information environments that I love the most is the ease of navigating through several hyperlinks. I am definitely the type of person who reads an article (often pop culture related or celebrity gossip) and ends up following a train of links to some obscure story or informative article. Wikipedia is an app my boyfriend and I use often and make a game of who can find information the quickest (me). I end up finding out a lot of information that I did not even know that I wanted to know. Something sparks my interest and sets me down a path of webpages that I never would have found otherwise. I know that this is possible on a computer, but something about scrolling through a slim, vertical screen makes me feel like I’m reading and navigating much faster than I would looking at a laptop.

9 Thoughts.

  1. I, too, am intrigued by beacon technology. I think this might be an efficient way for our patrons and summer visitors to receive programming updates. After reading the assigned article, I searched for more current product descriptions, and found several to explore. Depending on the cost, this may be a technology we can introduce before the next summer season.

    • Hi @flane,
      Thank you for the response! I am curious about why this technology hasn’t been used more widely. The other day I struck up a conversation with my little brother, who is a junior in high school, and I asked about the technology that his school used. His response was short “I don’t know. The usual stuff.” I started talking to him about the beacon technology and his idea was that it would be cool if that technology was used in malls or geocaching (an activity that him and his friends do regularly).

  2. Hi Valerie,

    I like your thoughts on smartphone use. I definitely use my smartphone much more often for non-phone calls than I do for actual phone calls. Prior to this week, I don’t think I’d given much thought to how libraries could incorporate patron’s phones into our service model. I can tell that as I go around my library from now on I’ll be thinking about smartphone/tablet related things we could do.

    • Hi @aebarden,
      I think it is easy to get caught up in the typical daily processes of the library rather than thinking outside the box. I think that’s what this class is hoping we’ll take away with us! I really love technology and incorporating new ways to use it in my life. I think others could benefit as well! Thank you for the response!

  3. Being able to explore course content via my smartphone has been a game-changer for me; with so many places to be throughout the week, not to mention long commutes, it has really helped a lot! I was really glad that they updated the Canvas mobile app for iOS, as it was giving me some trouble before, namely where the calendar was concerned.


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