Gizmodo wrote up a piece on an important difference between computers (e.g. the new MacBook Air) and the iPad.The gist of which is: creation is greatly hindered on an iPad or iPhone. While I’ve edited photos on my iPhone, they weren’t quality/skilled changes but simple template driven adjustments. I’ve done research on my iPhone but never delivered a product that encompassed a gamut of databases and files/reports.
Could an iPad replace a librarian’s computer? Doubtful. Results would take more time to deliver and would leave out inaccessible Internet resources. We can easily digest information on an iPad, find a title, call-number, or even a citation. Yet, doing a full background search on a corporation, a legislative history, or finding a medical article from 1934 would prove tedious if not impossible. A research project can involve dozens of PDF, word, and image files, I can only imagine the pain of organizing and sifting through them on a touch surface. The same headaches go with spreadsheets or power point presentations. Lastly, would you even attempt to catalog on an iPad?
I look forward to the day when we can do research with touch screens or projected images (see Minority Report); but that day isn’t today.
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The Digital Millenium Copyright Act is a thorn in the side of exploration and freedom of use. It effectively criminalizes using owned works/software outside of normal/intended means. For example, if you buy a song on iTunes and it is protected by Digital Rights Management (DRM): it is locked to your account, your computer, and only to a number of devices that support playing it, iTunes, iPods, and perhaps a few other devices. You are also restricted to burning the album or songs to a limited number, 3 or 5 CDs or so. CDs don’t last. I’ve had to purchase my favorite albums a number of times, despite my immaculate care, they became unplayable. The music purchased can only be used in the way they want. Want to remix it? You’ll have to get a different version or illegally free it from DRM. Want to play it on a non-Apple/non-iTunes device, same thing. While it’s easy to circumvent the processes in place, it is technically prohibited. Additionally, as far as I can tell, there is no easy way to resell music.
The latest DMCA news involves the Apple iPhone. There’s a world of uses for the iPhone some of which may only be discovered or tapped into if used outside of its design/intended purpose. Jailbreaking could lead to illegal actions, but jailbreaking shouldn’t be illegal. If one were inclined they could download applications without paying for them, that’s obviously illegal. However still considered illegal would be connecting wirelessly to printers or finding ways to make it more efficient and user-friendly. I bet one could turn the iPhone into a full-blown computer, simply by installing a full operating system and connecting it to a monitor and keyboard. Maybe the iPhone would be great for checking in books and scanning shelves via RFID. However, you’d have to install an RFID scanner and software onto the phone. Perhaps the only way to do that would be via jailbreak.
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Two years ago I wrote a post on how I decided to pick a blackberry curve over the iPhone. I’ve lived in regret ever since. My friends who have had their iPhones the last two years remain happy (At&T issues aside) and are certainly ready for the next iteration. Moreover, the old iPhone remains in constant comparison to mobiles currently being released and even those in prototype phases. Any phone worth its mettle looks like an iPhone and offers functionality that Apple popularized and nearly perfected.
I went with the blackberry and it has been problematic (T-Mobile issues aside). Within the last year the phone has proved sluggish, unreliable, and in varied states of freezing. Hardly a day goes by where the curve’s battery isn’t pulled for a hard reset. It’s limited in OS functionality, application availability, web browsing, music or video playing. The curve’s only good use is text related. Twitter is fine and messaging/e-mail is OK. However, it’s a smart-phone and should be able to do a little bit more. Attempts to perform outside basic text usage proves cumbersome and clunky. I’ve taken a good share of pictures on the device and the Google Maps application has proven useful, perhaps the only two redeeming qualities; yet in this day and age a phone with a usable camera and map isn’t much about which to get excited. Especially when considering the sluggishness that coincides with using any of these features.
All is not lost. Today Apple is holding their World Wide Developers Conference [IGN live blog] and the obvious news being the release of a new iPhone. The standard I hope that they set though will exist in the cloud, leading to seamless integration/syncing of several devices we use everyday: phones, computers, and the web. Mostly though I want a cellphone that can navigate my public library catalog, allowing me to search and request items without problem. The blackberry browser on the curve supports this but it never really works. Blackberry had their two years and failed, time to move onto a brand that has rarely let me down.
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Does it matter that Android devices hold 2nd place in the cellular marketplace? There’s been some fanfare surrounding Apple’s drop [Apple's Arrogance Stokes Android Gains] and some bloggers are making some sort of big deal out of it: reasoning that Apple is no longer as mighty as they once were and that the iphone is no longer the device it once was. Let’s be honest though, Apple products have always been niche products. Back in the 80s they held the personal computer marketplace in their hands, but their proprietary hardware and software couldn’t beat out the “open” hardware and software powered by Windows/DOS. To this day the Apple OS remains a tiny percentage of the PC world.
What we’re seeing play out now is nearly the same story. Apple has a machine with software that only they control. Whereas Android is free for the tinkering and available to any company who wishes to put out a hand-set. Sure, Apple has stockholders focused on endlessy making billions of dollars, and as of late Apple has been doing that very well since the ipod boom. However, Apple or should I say Steve Jobs is more concerned with his product. Moreover, the aesthetic influence Apple controls is abundantly obvious. Look at any cellphone that’s worth it’s mettle and it resembles an iphone in more ways than one. Once the new iphone design is officially released this summer a new batch of copycats will be on the horizon in no time. Apple sets the bar.
Obviously Apple cares about their dominance in the cellphone race, a race that didn’t even start until they entered. Apple is in a familiar position, last time with the Macintosh, but now the iphone is a mature device and it’s direction is constantly scrutinized. Will the iphone ever be top-dog and does that even matter? Apple users constantly desire their products and Apple is pushing boundaries/markets as time goes on. They are making oodles of cash, influencing the competition, and in constant media attention- slipping a few percentage points means little.
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The Apple ipad heralds the end of books (and/or traditional bookends)! I knew this device would be magical and unicorn like, but never would have thought that it would destroy the physical print format we’ve loved for eons; well not quite that long.
You can find my waxings on the death of books here.
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Posted in libraries, technology, tagged apple, CES, digital book, digital reader, e-reader, gizmodo, microsoft, tablet on January 8, 2010 |
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The Amazon Kindle has made the largest splash in the soon to be saturated pool of e-readers. Their massive collection and name recognition paired with a solid device has given them the upper hand. However, this year’s CES is revealing multiple platforms and companies looking to make their e-reader the next must-have gadget (see ipod). Just to give you an idea of where this industry is heading, check out Gizmodo.com under the tag: tablet. It will be a buyers market but things definitely need time to take shape. We don’t know what Apple and Microsoft have up their sleeves just yet.
I have been an Apple fan since a wee-lad but MS appears to have something on the horizon that can challenge the playing field, the Courier.
So where would this leave the library? It would leave libraries with a greater niche to fill! Users will want content and many libraries, as they already do, can offer digital loans. And not everyone can afford an e-reader or will want one. Libraries may have the option of offering e-readers for use within the library or for check-out (how that will work may prove tricky). If cheap e-readers are developed, we’re talking sub $50, then loaning them out wouldn’t be too much of an issue (pun not intended).
I look forward to the technological innovation and changes ahead. More importantly the chance to have all of Balzac, Proust, Montaigne, Eliot, Lee and Kirby’s works in one portable device.
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