The Gadget Ecosystem
We all know how fast the technology landscape is shifting. A recent Pew Internet study found that 81% of gadget experts agree that the “hot gadgets and apps that will capture the imagination of users in 2020 will often ‘come out of the blue’ and will not have been anticipated by today’s savviest innovators.” Although we can’t predict what’s on the 10-year horizon, we can at least look at what is here and now in the gadget domain.
Gadgets in the Library?
Before diving into the specific devices, let’s take the aerial view of the landscape to understand where and how libraries fit in to the ecosystem.
Libraries and learning communities
Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, helps us look at the big picture of the “gadget ecosystem” and its impact on the role of libraries. He shows how gadgets and social networks create connections, which enable learning to happen anywhere on any device at any time. He then explores five threads of how librarians can be even more valuable to their learning communities in this hyper-connected environment. Video, slides or PDF of his presentation at Internet Librarian 2011.
The Kindles Are Coming: Ereaders and tablets are springing up in schools—and librarians are leading the way
Ereaders and tablets are pumping new life into reading and learning: “…ereaders are bundling the three P’s of librarianship—participation, portability, and personalization—into one magical package.”
20 Coolest iPad Ideas for Your Library
Whether using the iPad or a competitor’s tablet, librarians are resourceful in putting a cool new tool to work in the library. Ideas include using the tablet for roaming reference, mobile workstations and remote help for patrons.
ALA Publishing shares the slides from this October 2011 webinar. After listing the specs for the 5 best-rated tablets (with a handy comparison chart on slide 35), the presentation explores the implementation of various library tablet programs. If you’re a history buff, check out slides 6-13 for a brief, colorful history of the tablet.
When you pick up one gadget, you find that it is so entangled with other gadgets, functions, apps and add-ons that it’s hard to know where to start or how to organize the information. To add to the chaos, there is a lot of churn in the gadget market as new devices enter, existing devices upgrade, and others drop out.
Tablets & Superphones from Computers in Libraries 2011
Jason Griffey provides a brief cybertour of the device landscape in this slide deck from Computers in Libraries 2011.
Gadget Checklist 2010: For library staff, users and our future
Although this presentation from Michael Porter, “the gadget guy,” is a year old, the basic orientation to the types, brands, features and functionality is still helpful. Follow Libraryman's Gadget Bookmarks to keep current.
[Editor’s note: there is no intended endorsement of any particular product.]
- Droid X for Dummies: covers the basics for operating a Droid X phone.
- Google Phone Gallery: this site allows you to select and compare Android phones from the dizzying array of options.
- 10 Coolest Android Ice Cream Sandwich Features: (Android 4.0): Google keeps upgrading its operating systems for Android phones…and giving them dessert names.
- Windows 7
The iPad is a clear frontrunner in terms of market penetration and media coverage, but as more people catch on to the versatility and user-friendliness of tablets, the competition will heat up.
- Motorola Xoom
- Motorola Xoom for Dummies Cheat Sheet: covers the basics for operating your Motorola Xoom.
- Blackberry PlayBook
- BlackBerry PlayBook Browsing Tips: from the Blackberry Blog
- Kindle Fire
- This new tablet from Amazon will be released November 15th at a blazing low price of $199 guaranteed to heat up the tablet market.
- Why Amazon's Kindle Fire is like a razor: it’s hot on the surface but there’s more to the story.
- Kindle Fire's shortcomings: Little storage, no Bluetooth?: review from CNET
People are not just reading ebooks on dedicated ereader devices; they’re using tablets and even the small screen of the smartphones. So this section is more accurately about accessing ebooks on mobile devices.
- 2011 Best eBook Reader Comparisons and Reviews: sort out the field of dedicated ereaders with this guide to reviews, feature comparisons, and rankings of 11 devices.
- Device-specific guides:
- Quick Guides for Downloading: illustrated guides in PDF format on a variety of ereader devices, from Pierce County Library System (WA)
- eReader Videos: how-to videos for 11 specific devices: Android Phones, Android Tablets, Blackberry, Computers, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle, Nook, Nookcolor, Sony Reader, Windows Phones, from King County Library System (WA)
- Using Accounts for E-Reader Devices: provides a basic guide to the accounts you need to get to those ebooks.
- Free Resources for Your E-Reader: there are many sources of free ebooks (Note: Kindle is now allowing library lending.)
- eBooks Troubleshooting: this guide covers some basic issues that arise between patrons and their ebook downloads, with the caveat that this may not apply to every situation.
- Literacy and E-Reader Jargon: a useful jargon decoder (epub, DRM, what?)
“There’s an App for that”
APP is an abbreviation for application, now commonly used to refer to a computer program designed to function on a mobile device. There are thousands of apps for a variety of devices, both free and for-fee.
- iPad Apps in the Library: a purview of iPad apps to extend your library services
- 7 Things You Should Know About iPad Apps for Learning: one of the Educause “7 things” series
- Smartphones Tip Sheet: a quick overview on how to customize a smartphone with apps; covers iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Palm and Windows. From the University of Texas Health Sciences Library’s Emerging Technology Brown Bag Series.
- Office productivity apps
- Best Word Processors for the iPhone, iPad
- Android Word Processor: a blog with reviews of word processors for Android
- 36 Productivity Apps for iPad, Android and BlackBerry Tablet PCs: a tasty selection of tablet apps for file sharing, conferencing , document creation and more.
- Android apps for forgetful people: create to-do lists, set reminders and have it all in hand on your smartphone
- Best IM apps: as the article says, “Does anyone use their smartphones as phones anymore?”
- QR Codes
- Guide to QR Codes: quick overview of what they are and how to use them.
- QR Codes LibGuide: links to tutorials, QR code generators, and ideas for using them.
- Are QR Codes a Real Security Risk For Smartphone Owners? A cautionary note
- Google Translate Conversation Mode: Jason Griffey points us to this "sci-fi future is here” function of the Siri (iPhone) and Translate (Android) apps.
- Fun with apps
- iPhone and iPad apps for fun and leisure
- Games, Gadgets and Gimmicks: Fun with the Android
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