Ready to Learn (Mobile Phone + Library) @ m-libraries conference

Ok going to the m-libraries conference was really about one user case for me:

Paul the student is working and studying in London part-time. He does not have time to go to the library in central London to get the right books (nor would his friends think much of him if he did: the tube ticket could buy two pints). For that matter he doesn’t really have time to sit down at his computer to search for alternative texts to supplement his studying either (his sister is always using the family computer to chat with friends on IM). He does have time though. During his part time job tending the local fruit & veg store he is often bored and would love to do some reading. Ok the only thing in his pocket is his mobile phone. What do we need to do? Yep, get him at least one of the articles he needs to read for his next class.

Ok, so this is the obvious user case and let’s go ahead and list a few of the issues and possibibilities (please feel free to contribute in the discussion below):

  1. We can’t text him an article as SMS (too many characters) <- or can we? as small packets one after another and then make some kind of read device on the mobile that can put these packets together? Then cost of each SMS is an issue: unless JISC provides an SMS service?
  2. Ok what about as one packet: over email perhaps (SMTP): Blackberries would enable the push technology: but this would limit us to text only? Is this enough to begin with? Delivering two or three articles to students before their class?
  3. What about web? high data bandwidth providers. How quickly are students in London subscribing to “all data subscription packages”? (eg Flext: where they have total credit aloted and that credit can be used for anything: sms, call, 3G data transfer, etc). <- In this case we would need to minimize their time online: eg provide them with a link (push via SMS) a tinyURL so they could quickly link to and download the article, spending minimal time online?
  4. IPR might be an issue with how the publisher will let us do the above? Is the data in a format that can be pushed at a reasonably quick speed?

Ok so lots of issues, but I really think most of these issues are not around technology but around knowing our students (and more importantly) their mobile phone contracts and costs. We can do all of the technology above. The question is: what is the right technology to implement?

In short, yes this technology feels a ways off but give it a year: next mobile libraries conference we’ll start seeing answers to some of the above user case question and then it is just a matter of implementing the technologies (six months max). So what might seem like 5-10 years away, in my honest opinion is three years away max.

More thoughts on this as ideas stew: please do add a quick comment helps keep the thinking process going!

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~ by dfflanders on November 19, 2007.

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