So…are folks at Sony really getting the “This is where we live” Web 2.0 vibe or what?
Hoping to tap into the growth of wireless networks across college campuses, other public spaces and within homes, Sony is introducing a new pocket-sized gadget for instant messaging and other internet-based communications.
The Sony mylo, slated for availability in September at a retail price of about $350, is a first-of-its-kind product that uses Wi-Fi networks, analysts say. It is not a cellular phone and thus doesn’t carry monthly service fees. And though it could handle web-based e-mail services, it doesn’t support corporate e-mail programs.
Instead, the slim, oblong-shaped gizmo that has a 2.4-inch display and slides open to expose a thumb keyboard is specifically geared toward young, mainstream consumers for messaging and internet-based calls. As long as a Wi-Fi network is accessible, a mylo user could chat away or browse the web.
The mylo — which stands for “my life online,” — will be marketed toward 18- to 24-year olds, the multitasking generation that relies heavily on instant messaging and is already viewing e-mail as passe, Sony said.
So, are we ready to IM with folks using these devices? Can the librarian have presence there?
Jack M. Maness
MLS, University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries
Many might consider IM a Web 1.0 technology, as its inception predates the technology market crash and it often requires the downloading of software, whereas most 2.0 applications are wholly web-based. It is here considered 2.0 as it is consistent with the tenets of Library 2.0: it allows a user presence within the library web-presence; it allows collaboration between patrons and librarians; and it allows a more dynamic experience than the fundamentally static, created-then-consume nature of 1.0 services. It is also considered 2.0 as it is becoming a more web-based application, and the software used by chat reference services is usually much more robust that the simplistic IM applications that are so popular (they often allow co-browsing, file-sharing, screen-capturing, and data sharing and mining of previous transcripts).
Blogs are nice, but sometimes prospective students crave a bit more real-time interaction. When high school students want to ask a quick question about admission, student life or academic programs, chances are they prefer to get an answer right away. They won’t call your admission office (hey, you’ve never been introduced – and they love to spend time on the phone, but only with their friends). They might not email you (email is so yesterday and formal).
That’s why you should offer them to IM (instant message) you.
I know, I know, it might be a challenge to use IM for the following reasons:
IM? What’s this? Does it bite? …
At Beloit, the admission office has found the solution, Student Outreach Interns (SOI):
“We think one of the best ways to get the inside scoop on college life is to talk to the students themselves. Join the Beloit Buddy List and IM your way through the college search. Or, if you prefer, a Beloit student will phone or email you to answer your burning questions about campus life, academics, and how to balance it all — or even what to pack.”
A question to Rachel and I about my FASTER IM piece in CIL:
Hello Rachel and Michael,
Thanks a lot for the fine IM FASTER article. If you have a second, I’d like to ask one question. You state, “Your work flow won’t suffer at all if you incorporate an IM application on one of your reference area computers; IM simply becomes part of the reference staff duties… The AskSJCPL service is staffed by the same librarians who work the telephone and public reference desk.” You refer to computers and librarians, plural. The majority of the time our reference desk is staffed by a single librarian and we frequently would not have any of the backups in place that you describe. I have to confess that it does sound overwhelming. Do you ever have only one librarian on duty? Do you think that IM reference would be feasible at your library were that the case?
Thanks so much,
Public Services Librarian
American River College
Hi David – Great question, and one I have had before! Adding IM presence to your one person reference desk really should not disrupt the flow of the librarian’s work at all. I have yet to hear of any library that was overwhelmed with IM questions (other than the story out of Homer Glen, IL when a bunch of students all tried out the service at once one afternoon after school). Make it part of your information policy: in person questions first, then phone, then IM, then e-mail (if you do it), then snail mail. If it’s part of information services, there’s nothing wrong with looking up from the screen and saying to the patron” “I am just finishing up with an IM reference question and I’ll be right with you…” (or some such..)
IM folk probably wouldn’t mind being asked to hang out as well if you had to help someone real quick as well.
Also know this is just one small step toward a new landscape of the way folks may ask questions of their librarians: IM, SMS, etc. Be ready for the time that questions come in to the library from any number of devices and all aggregate into one place — your reference desk computer — because from what I can tell, it’s coming!
Darren Chase posts an ingenious idea: using the desktop to promote IM! Thanks Darren!
File this under “Why Libraries should have IM activated at each department/branch!”