Monday, April 29, 2013

Are We Big Brother?

The other day while out to lunch with colleagues I did something really amazing. But no one else saw it.

As we were gathering our trash to leave my fork flew into the air and landed on my lap. But then as I tried to stop it from continuing onto the floor, I catapulted it into the air again high above the table and then caught it in motion.

I tried to tell everyone what they had missed but I just couldn't do it justice. It was a birthday celebration so we had been taking pictures. Why didn't one of us have our phone video camera going? I looked around to see if the restaurant had a video camera and joked that I was going to ask for the footage to prove it. Then it occurred to me that I was wishing for something that everyone who has read Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell is supposed to fear.

Did I really want my every move to be recorded? I don't know but I have grown to accept that it is possible.

How often are surveillance cameras instrumental in catching bad guys? Look at an online news story about something like the Boston Marathon bombing in The Huffington Post and one of the prominent links invites readers to Contribute to this Story by sending a photo or video. It is not unreasonable to assume that there are several "home videos" of anything.

The day before my "private performance," my daughter was complaining that she needed a new phone. She said she just wanted it to be able to answer an incoming call. When it failed to deliver, she looked at her phone and said, "You had only one job!" But as someone who has never lived in a world without cell phones I know she has higher expectations for her smartphone (a.k.a., mobile device) -- as we all do.

ComputerWorld reports that there has been a 26% increase in mobile browser usage in three months. Data collected on incoming traffic to web sites indicates that more people are using tablets (like iPads) and smartphones to surf the web.

How is that effect us here in the Darling Library? Library resources need to be mobile friendly because more of our students expect it.

If you are using a mobile device to access this blog, it should look different from the interface you see when using a desktop computer. That is no accident. Blogger has ways of detecting what kind of device you are using and delivers an interface that is "friendlier" for the smaller mobile screen. And our Systems and Technical Services Librarian has implemented codes that allow the library's web site to do the same thing. Pretty neat... and for some, kind of creepy.

Providing relevant information when necessary is part of the library's job. Providing it conveniently and in usable ways is part of what makes it relevant.

Or is that just newspeak?

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