Happy birthday SMS. The first text message was sent 20 years ago today, forever changing the ways we communicate. There are about 8 trillion text messages sent per year. Now the growth of text messaging is slowing down as the messaging arena evolves. What is in store for libraries?
The first text message was sent on December 3, 1992 by Neil Papworth from Newbury, Berkshire, UK.
It simply read “merry Christmas.” Now there are around 8 trillion text messages sent annually (250K/second). Texting has become the 2nd most popular use of mobile phones only after checking the time .
At first, text messages could only be sent from computers to cell phones and developers had no idea that SMS would take off. In just 20 short years text messaging has done so much impact the ways we communicate. I believe that SMS is one of the strongest examples of how technology changes can shift what we do and how we do it.
I find it particularly interesting that there was a 7 year lag in time before SMS really took off due not just to consumer uptake but to carrier and technical barriers. The potential for impact from tech changes can linger before it is maximized.
New Mobile Communication Arena:
SMS is beginning to step aside for other means of mobile communication.
For the first time is its history, the growth of text messaging been slowing down.
“In Q3 2012, for the first time, there was a decline in both the total number of messages as well as the total messaging revenue in the market.” (http://www.chetansharma.com/usmarketupdateq32012.htm). “The average US mobile user sent and 678 text messages each month between July and September this year. That’s down from 696 a month between April and June.” (John Lister citing http://www.chetansharma.com/usmarketupdateq32012.htm).
SMS is not going away (it is still near universal access across mobile devices) but it has seen its peak. Meaning it’s time we plan for what’s next. I spend a great deal of time in my talks exploring how the mobile tech landscape is changing and where libraries should be looking next.
The tide of change comes with the increasing dominance of smartphones, a significant switch to data for messaging, and a confluence of trends including social integration, conversations around images, group messaging apps, embedded chat functions, and cloud integration. This shift may have been most evident with Apple’s release of iMessage. Other competing technologies include Facebook and its Messenger app (acquired and folded in Beluga), Twitter, mobile messaging apps including Kik (30 million users), WhatsApp (100 million Google downloads alone, recently enjoyed acquisition by Facebook rumors that turned out not to be true), Skype (acquired messaging leader GroupMe), even mobile email.
I found it noteworthy that Matti Makkonen mentioned “20yrs ago I didn’t see sms as separate issue – it was just a feature in the revolutionary mobile communications system. Very useful for quick business needs..” (www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20555620). When conceiving plans for mobile services, each tech, including SMS represents a spot along an evolving continuum.
I like how the “father of SMS,” Matti Makkonen‘s hope for a future of tech includes “integration of mobile content display to my eyeglasses,” a real and growing arena of wearable tech that we’ll see take the mainstream in the next year or two (www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20555620).
Text messaging has presented libraries with opportunities and challenges old and new.
When I put text messaging on the radar for libraries my goal was to help libraries catch up to communication norms. Now I work to help libraries adapt to quickly evolving spheres of opportunity by helping them understand the major and shifting directions of the mobile communication landscape. This arena of technology changes all the time and libraries can, with some help, change to keep pace with the technology landscape.
I believe it is still a mistake for libraries to not leverage SMS. I still see some libraries focusing on IM. I also believe the heyday for texting has passed and library services should reflect that fact.
I worry that many libraries are still not using mobile devices for service provision, erecting false barriers between the library and its end users and isolating the staff. With the proliferation of smart phones there is less excuse for libraries to not operate services from a mobile device leveraging the cloud synchronization and data driven messaging.
What messaging services are you using at your library and which are you prioritizing?
- – Joe Murphy Librarian
Facebook now has 1 Billion active users worldwide but the truly important implication for libraries is Facebook’s nexus of connections.
Facebook’s size matters to libraries because it facilitates connections to much more than friends; connections between people and resources, connections between consumers and products, between individuals and services. Facebook also drives connections in a big way to outside apps (resources, tools).
As of September 2012, one billion people actively use Facebook on a monthly basis. Just earlier this year, Facebook passed the 900 million user mark and there were only one billion people using all social media. Facebook’s size and growth alone makes it of interest to libraries as a near universal platform. However, the true value of consequence is the connections.
A Facebook figure that is perhaps more important for us to take note of is the one hundred and forty billion friend connections on Facebook (Facebook Newsroom via “The Most Important Facebook Number: 140.3 Billion”). Facebook is about connections. Facebook’s ability to make connections continues to grow as does the impact and reach of those connections. There are 140 Billion points of connections between Facebook Friends, an average of one hundred and forty per Facebook user.
It is the ability of Facebook to connect users to resources that should hold our attention. Facebook in May of 2012 reported that it connected one hundred and sixty million users to mobile applications representing more than 150% growth from the first two months of the year. These connections combine to over 1.1 billion users connected with mobile apps from Facebook. These apps can be games, music, business related, or even content resources. Facebook drives connections to apps on a mass scale, making it a significant portal for discovery and completing the above circle of connecting people to resources.
One implication follows that Facebook is a central nexus for connections but not just between people or between libraries and their users. Rather connections between people and tool/brands/products, between individual and services, resources and people.
Libraries’ central concern with Facebook is its powerful role as connector: between people & resources just as much as between peers.
It is also Twitter’s valuable connections and their impact on connected technology ecosystems that make protecting its data beneficial for itself as it cuts off access to more and more partners. Twitter has thrived on its capital of connections which has driven both the reasons for and controversy over recent API controversies and updates to streaming and killing rss.
Note that I have not mentioned using Facebook as a platform for reaching patrons. Having Facebook Pages etc for your library is a good idea, but understanding its impact and weight as a connector is more important.
A Growing Mobile:
The number of Facebook users who access the service via mobile devices has passed half at 600 million. Social engagement, whether it is with our social groupings, our location, our photographs, or content is coming closer and closer to the point of real world and real time engagement as the incorporation of social media at the moment via our smartphones spreads. It is reported that those mobile Facebook users are utilizing over 7,000 different types of mobile devices to access Facebook.
Facebook has made some changes recently in response to troubles it has had with reaping value from its mobile users. Its mobile application had a hard time performing with sufficient speed and was replaced with a faster app to user applause. Facebook’s founder recently put some of the blame for the app’s poor performance on the fact that they had not put as much emphasis on focusing on the mobile experience first as well as on the type of mobile development technology it had used, HTML5.
Photos as conversation:
219 Billion photos have been uploaded to Facebook. Photo sharing is one of the centrally popular activities across social media. It is a now a fundamental consumer behavior that drives much technological development. As visual creatures, there is a human need for engaging and sharing visual elements to our experiences and Facebook reaps huge benefits from this as a central zone for photo sharing. Flickr used to also play a large role in this arena and for the last two years the biggest competitors for user attention in photo sharing have been mobile photo sharing applications, especially Instagram.
Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram reflects an interesting area of evolution. It is widely understood that Instagram’s success in the mobile arena was a key factor in its purchase by Facebook. One of the reasons Instagram is so successful in mobile is that its experience most closely resembles that which mobile consumers respond positively to: visual, time sensitive, and in a controlled stream.
From this info-graphic mentioned earlier, we also learn that location continues to be a popular element to sharing and connection: there have been 17 Billion check-ins and posts for which a location was included. This covers direct location check-ins with the mobile app as well as associating posts (status updates, pictures, etc) with the location at which they occurred. Adding allocation element to social activity was the natural next step in location engagement after Facebook followed Foursquare’s lead in location check ins. Location engagement represents a strong area of opportunity for libraries for which physical space is still important.
Facebook should not be seen as just a destination or a means towards the end of reaching end users. Facebook also functions as a connector and a connections facilitator. Overlapping once more with libraries.
- Joe Murphy Librarian
Those who say QR Codes are dead do not understand the evolving tech landscape. Conversely, those who overhype QR Codes might be missing the larger context. Hint: QR codes are currently the most universal technology leveraging physical proximity for digital access.
QR codes are part of the important trend of using real world proximity for online access.
There are several main technology areas in this arena; NFC, Augmented Reality, location based services like Foursquare, and amalgamations using ambient location. Each of these endures because there is value in the story attached to real world objects and each of them uses the smartphone to bridge the physical with the digital.
QR Codes are currently the most dominant of these because they rely on smartphone cameras to transcribe the encoded information and cameras are amongst the most widely available features of smartphones.
NFC could maybe have knocked QR Codes aside if Apple had decided to include NFC in its mobile devices. NFC is less maligned but more precipitous. Being kept off Apple’s devices has effectively kept NFC from penetrating the mainstream technology market. Augmented Reality has not seen the pick-up predicted by its potential, though that may change with the growth of some types of wearable computing technology.
Something will always fill the need for real world access to digital info and as long as cameras remain a universal aspect of smart mobile devices (or the dominant connected device of the day) engagement QR Codes will continue to play an important role.
Libraries should continue to invest in QR Codes as long as we are concerned with making connections to electronic information with a real world element.
Short comings of QR Codes and reasons for their eventual demise:
QR Codes have withered in some ways including industry excitement and real concerns about real world usage. Potential QR Codes short-falls include: their reliance on the scanner being stable and steady, size and distance sensitivity, impacts on traffic flow, the necessity of data connectivity to access and use, the increasing ease of each code blending into obscurity as the technology proliferates, updating and maintaining the code in the back end.
QR Code’s strength of leveraging the moment with situational sensitivity can also just as likely serve as a weakness.
Most importantly is the pace of change: One particular thing to watch that will change this state of affairs down the road is the growth of wearable computing and its shifts in access points including Google’s Project Glass.
Ongoing growth of QR Codes:
- QR Codes’ growth is continuing across sectors
- Apple’s Passbook embraces them alongside other bar codes
- The Belly loyalty reward service uses QR Codes on cards and in the app.
- QR Codes are being used widely for mobile payments with Bank of America, LevelUp, and more.
– Joe Murphy
iPad Mini brings the power of the iPad into more spaces, further expanding the Apple iOS ecosystem. Apple also unveiled a 4th generation full size iPad.
Big Impact from the iPad Mini:
The most impactful detail is that the iPad Mini can be held in one hand and has a greater ease of carrying. This change in size alone impacts how we engage and where we consume. Its smaller imprint on our lives may expand the times and places that users have their tablets with them and feel comfortable reading on them. As with the larger story of mobile engagement, tablets are not just about portability for using on the move, but also for content engagement where we choose; in bed, on the couch as second screen etc.
The iPad Mini specifically brings Apple’s mobile iOS and its content, resources, and platforms (think of the apps ecosystem) into more corners of more of our lives.
That it beats the iPad 2 in specs and reviews means we’ll see a swarm of users who will leapfrog to this new device.
With this smaller device, the reach of the Apple iOS and resources through it expands to more of our patrons (those preferring the smaller device size and smoother integration into their lives) and into more of their spaces. So be prepared for more iOS mobile engagement with your content and services.
For librarians’ use: the Mini may be better suited for mobile library staff: easier use with Square and mobile payments, more portable for roving reference, for checking out tablets to users.
Competition and the Tablet Field:
The iPad Mini competes for single handed use in a space that has up till now been dominated by the diminutive tablets from Amazon and Google (an interesting point in the battling balance betweenAndroid and iOS). iPad Mini does not compete with consumers who prioritize the lower price points. It also competes, and in some ways over shadows Microsoft’s new Surface tablet. This may mean our enterprises (libraries) may pay less attention to Microsoft’s attempt to enter the mobile sphere.
In the trends context – This is a unique turn for Apple which responded to tech trend pressure instead of creating it.
- 7.9 inch screen (compared to the iPad’s ~10 inch screen)
- It’s 50% thinner and 53% lighter than the full size iPads, and “lighter than a pad of paper” (less than 7/10ths of a pound). “So light that your hand has basically no real sensation of weight, just of presence” John Koetsier.
- About same height as tablets from Amazon, Barnes And Noble, and Google. However, the iPad mini screen is a third larger than competitors’ tablets (Kindle Fire and Nexus 7) of equal device size.
- LTE connectivity for an additional $130
- Same pixel count and processor as the iPad 2
- Uses Apple’s new Lighting connector
- Front facing camera (think more FaceTime = more communication). 5-megapixel camera on back.
Full power of the iPad in a slightly more form fitting size brings the Apple mobile ecosystem, and all the content and behaviors that come with it, to more of our patrons and into more aspects of their lives.
New Full Size iPad:
The new full size iPad has improved speed (twice as fast as previous iPad), boasts LTE cellular data, faster wifi, and will sell at similar pricing points as previous iPads. The iPad 4 features an A6x chip that doubles its speed and graphics performance, has a 10-hour battery life, FaceTime HD and the new Lightning connector.
- Joe Murphy
Instagram was famously mobile first and was in fact iOS only up until earlier this year. This week Instagram has come to the web.
Instagram’s new web profiles include photos in a continuous stream, account profile with bio, link, and profile pic. See Instagram web profiles using this URL model instagram.com/[username]. Now people do not need an Instagram account in order to view public profiles and pictures.
On the web you can now edit your profile, follow users and like or comment on their pics, do light comment and caption editing, see scroll over metrics and location tags. The top bar in your profile features rotating pictures from your account. You cannot add photos from the web as Instagram still wants to focus on the mobile experience.
You might still get a “This profile will be available soon” message, so just check back later to start using your web profile.
Meaning and Uses:
This subtle change may make Instagram a bit more library friendly as it expands Instagram content to less mobile user groups.
Trends and context:
Instagram comes to web in reflection of the primacy of mobile and the secondary benefits of non-app engagement. This also leverages the concept of expanding discovery and engagement that may direct to the mobile platform.
Web profiles provide for easier integrating into the less mobile social landscape, expanded visual sharing and easier Pinning to Pinterest. You will immediately notice its striking similarity to your Facebook Timeline; not entirely surprising considering that Instagram is now within the Facebook ecosystem. Continuous scrolling is a neat trend with mobile and online content consumption. Web profiles also expand Instagram beyond the app and out into the rest of the mobile web because the profiles are mobile web friendly. Being able to access others’ content in a profile scheme reduces the focus on the “moment” and offers a better account level for interaction.
[But remember while you vote today; Instagramming from the polling booth may be illegal]
Instagram has more than 100 million users (started the year with only about 15 million) and was famously not only mobile first, but mobile only. Instagram actually even started out as iOS only, solely existing as an Apple app and didn’t even come to Android devices until after enjoying huge success.
Uses for Libraries:
Make use of Instagram web profiles to:
- More easily share your Instagram pics and full account online with abroader audience.
- Connect with and engage other users though their web profiles.
- Log in online to like and comment on others’ pics.
- Add your Instagram web profile URL to your links and social profiles/presences.\
- Link to individual pictures on sites and Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest etc.
The bottom line is that web profiles bring the near full Instagram experience beyond the app, but does not replace the app. After all, this is a mobile world. There is no inherit value of the web profiles over the app experience, but they do complement each other well. So I still think of it as a hook to draw back to the app, which is in line with Facebook’s own strategy.
Mobile and the web do not exist without each other. But which relies on which continues to shift.
Keynote presentation for the OK ACRL state chapter, “Academic Libraries, Technology, and Ubiquitous Information.” Slides for the talk linked from the image above in which I cover the newest tech trend areas and opportunities for libraries.
The fitting conference theme was Library Without Walls: Mobile Tech and the Future of Libraries. Thank you to the wonderful librarians of Oklahoma and especially the organizers of the Fall 2012 OK-ACRL conference.
Some of the topics I covered include the impact of the iPad Mini, Sandy and Instagram, large trend directions, tablets for Ethiopian children, and much much more (two hours worth of content).
I also had a lot of fun sight seeing in Tulsa and documenting my adventures with Instagram:
- Joe Murphy Librarian
In Brunei to deliver a keynote talk at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam for the Conference on GenNext Libraries.
My talk is about “Tech Changes & Library Futures” and the conference theme is Emerging technologies: New Direction for Libraries.
See some pictures from my travels to Brunei on Instagram- username joemurphy_libraryfuture – The conference made it into several local papers- note that I am the only one not looking at the camera :p
Honored to have been invited to The Nation of Brunei, located in Southeast Asia on the north coast of the island of Borneo bordering Malaysia.
Here is a brief abstract of my talk from the conference program:
Joe Murphy (Librarian and Tech Trend Spotter) explores the next generation of technologies and introduces how they guide new directions for libraries. This presentation explains the challenges and opportunities emerging technologies offer to libraries. Technologies covered will include tools emerging now as well as those expected to make waves in the near future with a focus on strategies for adaptation and sustainable innovation.
- Joe Murphy Librarian
Technology trends from a librarian perspective. My keynote for the global online conference that crosses time zones and covers two days. The Library 2.012 Worldwide Virtual Conference is free to attend and includes 150 sessions from speakers around the world.
As a technology trend spotter for libraries, I explore the impact and meaning of technology changes. This talk outlines the technology directions affecting libraries now and the trends that will create opportunities as well as challenges in the future.
Goal: This talk pushes libraries as we race to meet the ever accelerating future and covers some very timely technology trends.
My specialization is synthesizing technology trends and filtering what they mean for the library industry through speaking, consulting, and writing. Contact me if you are interested in bringing me to your event or institution (email@example.com).
– Joe Murphy Librarian
“Tech Changes Impacting Traditional Models,” keynote talk at The Library Corporation’s Annual User Conference in St Petersburg, FL.
I cover the most current tech areas and focus on the question of responding to shifting tech and content pressures with institutional pivots.
Joe Murphy (tech trend spotter and librarian) introduces the most current technological changes whose disruptions in traditional library and business models are offering new opportunities. This presentation focuses on inspiring paths for library reinventions and explores the challenges and strengths of several major technologies making waves right now. Learn directions and strategies for keeping current, engaging your community, and adapting in a constantly evolving technological landscape.
– Joe Murphy Librarian
Pinterest impacts the narrative of discovery and visual curation. It is a powerful tool for academic libraries that can make use of its collaborative boards and its impacts on content curation and sharing.
I presented this webcast about Pinterest and academic libraries for the Association of College & Research Libraries on 9/18/12.
Pinterest fits into larger prevailing technology contexts: the year of the image, self curation, visual sharing, image as experience.
Libraries are interested in Pinterest because of its implications for content discovery/sharing, service extensions, and collaborative features.
Areas of use in academic libraries include:
• Facilitating/assisting collaboration and curation
• Curation of resources through visual subject guides
• Targeted resources for specific groups
• Featuring electronic and print collections
• Connecting with researchers and groups
• As a teaching tool.
• Highlighting the human element of your library with staff pins.
• Pin diagrams to FAQs.
• Curate instructional resources with teaching pin boards.
• Teach proper citation and attribution.
• Has ~20+ million unique visitors per month.
• Is the third most visited social media site
• Is used by 12% of the US internet population
• 20% of women and 5% of men use Pinterest
• Most age groups use it
• Pinterest has the highest percentage of women users social networks
• Pinterest drives high levels of referral traffic: more than YouTube, Google+, and LinkedIn combined.
Pinterest is spawning like-alikes, copycats, and is even influencing layout designs.
Consider optimizing your web resources for Pinterest (include pictures and add Pin It buttons).
Optimize your images for pinterest byt considering meta data.
Create a story unique to your library’s value in its community and use pins that tell that story.
Be aware of the ethical concerns arising from Pinterest and pin safely protecting intellectual property.
Leverage hashtags and @ mentions.
Use Pinterest to collect feedback.
Pinterest is now open to everyone, so it is appropriate to us it to drive projects and engagement on large scales.
Make use of the new iPad app and its built in browser.
Collaborative pin boards are a goldmine for academic libraries.