Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Thing 7 - Communication Tools... OF THE FUTURE!!!


Electronic mail, or E-mail as the kids refer to it as these days has clearly made an impact on today's society. Personally, I've used email myself since my family first hooked up to the internet, and haven't been without it since. Back then, it was only used for entertainment reasons. I would email friends, relatives, sign up for this and that using my email address. Now it's become much more useful, and really neccesary in many ways at work. While it's not impossible at work to walk down to the first floor and personally give someone a message, but you've gotta admit it's far faster and more convenient to send them an email. It really becomes neccesary when messages to all staff members need to be notified on a particular subject. Instead of trying to gather everyone around and hoping everyone hears what you say, a simple email can inform everyone in a simple manner. At work I use email everyday, mostly receiving from supervisors passing along information to the masses, but I also receive it from co-workers at branches among others.

Instant messaging. It's a sentence an and of itself, to me anyway. I talked about IM'ing a lot in one of my first posts, and everything I said about it then, still holds true. It is SO useful to me in my everyday life. I've been using it since my family hooked itself up to the internet and I've never looked back. Enough about my own personal experiences, regarding libraries I think it's a new frontier that will eventually happen at my own library. I think it's a matter of 'when' rather then 'if'. That short video showed just a glimpse of how useful IM'ing is. I think of it almost as an equivalent of the phone, but with text. It's real time communication, a level of customization with the individual clients, you can usually change your Icon/Avatar or the skin of the program. File transfers are also common among IM clients. The ability to send a file to whoever you're chatting with, whether it be a picture from your digital photo album, a report you're working on or a new song you've been listening to. While being able to have the staff in order to offer a service such as "Instant Librarian" is always an issue, those libraries that can offer this service would be making their services even more available. It's hard for me to say enough about IM'ing, I've spent many an hour using them, to me, my IM client is as common and useful as a TV or a Stove is to others.

Now SMS/Text messaging is another story. Up until last year, I never used a cell phone, so I didn't do any text messaging at all. But that all changed when I finally made the jump and got my 1st cell phone. There is a cost associated with using text messaging, so it will never compromise my #1 position of Instant Messaging. However, it's still useful at times. Personally I only use text messaging with girlfriends or family (mostly so they can contact me whenever they feel like it no matter where I am), while I communicate almost entire with regular friends through IM. There are certain things regarding text messaging that irriate me. You're limited to the number of characters you can use in a given message. It's not always instantaneous like IM is, depending where you're located at what service you're using. Obviously it costs money, to get a plan with a set number of text messages and even more money for unlimited text messages. I also can't stand the "lingo" or language that's allowed in the text messages. "R U rdy 2 go?" I understand it makese sense to replace entire words with a single letter for space reasons, but I still don't like it and never use it myself. One last thing, on most phones it's clunky typing messages to people. There are 3 or 4 letters assigned to a number key 1-9, say 1 has the letters a, b and c assigned to it, if I wanted to spell the word "cab" I would have to hit the number 1 three times to get "C" wait for the cursor to stop blinking, then hit 1 once for "A" wait for the cursor to stop blinking and hit 1 twice for "B". I realize there are word recognition programs that assist your typing messages, but all in all it's a slow experience. On the plus side, if you're away from a computer and inside your phone's coverage area you can send a text message. Also, many IM clients allow you communicate with cell phones with text messages, though the phones have to support this option themselves by already having AIM (Aol Instant Messaging) or one of the other clients on the phone to begin with.

I've only experience web conferences since I started working at the library, in the form of webinars. During our webinars, there would be a number of people connected to the host's phone and we would listen to him on speaker phone, as well as be connected to his desktop so we could see what he was doing on our computer. While this is only conjecture, the webinars I've experienced can test your ability to maintain conciousness. Perhaps, given more excitable subject manner, personal opinions can change. Though on the technical side, things never always work how you expect. Most likely due to the speed of the library's online connection and slower computers, the online aspect of the webinars were laggy, sometimes minutes behind what the host was actually doing. Such a lagging online experience really negates the learning, because the person is always talking in real time, but seeing that translated on our computers minutes later really detracts from the presentation on a whole.

In all, most of the communcation tools listed, are here to stay.

"R U 4 REALZ???"

"Yes... Yes I am."