Online Content

by Megan Fox

Looking at what content is available and what users are using on their mobile devices, as well as how you can search for mobile content. Data access now surpasses voice use on mobile phones. Lots of time spent on emails, news, sports, social networking, movie information, games etc. on mobile devices.

Need to think about what we are recreating on mobile sites and apps. (Check out earlier blog posts on Mobile Technology Workshops and location based apps for examples of using and creating mobile sites and applications). Many catalog vendors are creating mobile apps and sites now too. Many libraries are creating their own when they do not like the vendors’ offerings. LibraryThing has Library Anywhere available for overlaying over the OPAC (does cost money). Federated web search tools: WebSearch app and Speedy Search are two examples.

Many vendors and services now have mobile interfaces. For example, EBSCO, LibGuides, etc. Also, small mobile collections of ebooks, streaming music and films are being made available. Some libraries are checking out mobile devices with collections downloaded on the device, others make the collections available to their users to use on their own devices.

Harvard Libraries mobile site goes deeper to give help with research: lots of searching on databases and research help.

Need to be aware of content resources outside of the library in the app stores. Can find relevant apps under categories such as finance, health, etc. GetJar App World: second most number of apps after iPhone app store.

Texting
Need to not forget texting–great to have texting reference service. Not everyone has a smartphone! Texting is still a powerful and simple way of providing reference service and finding content.

Voice
Important to remember about the ability to search via voice and lots of speech-to-text applications. This is becoming very popular. Dragon Search App is a very important player.

Touchscreen
Motion and gesture are now important in how we can search and execute functions on the smartphones. Lots of applications using gesture to create functionality.

Location aware
Location aware applications are very important for searching. (For more information, check out earlier post on Foursquare and other location based social networks.) Used a lot in public transit, finding restaurants, etc.

Visual searching
Can now do visual searching via our phones because they have cameras. For example, use Google Goggles by taking a photo of a book and then get more information about the book. Another player is oMoby. Also included in this category are barcode readers (like QR Codes). RedLaser app searches WorldCat–very cool. Neustar is trying to come up with standards for barcodes so you won’t have to download a lot of barcode reader apps. Augmented reality is also another way to use visual searching.

How people find stuff on their phones:
1. Bookmarks, 2. URLs, 3. Searching (searching is still only third in the way people find information).
Now people are doing casual browsing and serendipitous searching as part of “killing time:” aka “incidental search.” Now, social augmented reality is important (Socialight is an important player) aka augmented humanity, reality mining, personalized precision search.

Identity theft and privacy concerns are growing as we use more mobile apps. No one has any easy answers to these issues, but we need to keep them in mind when creating and launching mobile services.

Summary
Mobile devices now allow us to get content on our devices without using the desktop. We need to be aware of what is available via mobile sites and native apps, but not forget about simpler technologies such as texting (because not everyone has a smartphone). We also need to be aware of the multiple avenues that users find information on their mobile devices and understand new ways of searching in order to be relevant in the mobile world.

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