Cell Phones and Rock Concerts

I just attended Kansas City’s Rock the Light VI concert – it was fun! Some highlights:

  • The bands on the main stage – they rocked
  • The satellite stage bands (I was in one of them) Go here for more pics of my day
  • Getting free tickets (complimentary tickets for bands playing on the satellite stages)
  • The venue – Starlight is an awesome place for a concert!
  • Raising $23,000 for hurricane victims (Third Day donated $10,000, and challenged the crowd to match that – the crowd gave $13,000)
  • Cell phone silliness!

Another sms shotAnd since this is a library technology blog, I’ll talk about the cell phone part. Starlight’s main stage includes a big screen hanging above the stage. Concert footage is usually shown on the screen, which is pretty cool. But cell phone users can dial 99777 and leave a text message that displays on the big screen, for everyone to see. Do you think the kids that attended the concert used that? Oh yeah – messages streamed nonstop the whole day. I took a pic – you can see examples of text messaging in it (bottom of the big screen). Cool shot of the drummer, too…

Some would call this a cool way to interact, to be part of the performance, or to enhance the concert experience. And it probably did all those things. At the same time, I found it sorta odd… example: during a slow part of a song, kids would scream when someone posted a message like “scream if you live in Liberty.” The two things (text message and performance) didn’t fit well together. Certainly gotta be odd for the band, if nothing else!

But either way, kids had and used their cell phones in a big way. In fact, rather than holding up lighters, Third Day asked everyone to hold up cell phones – I was awed in all geekiness at that point – 8000 cell phones glowing at once was pretty cool to see.

How does this relate to libraries? Well… those kids with cell phones – can they access your library via IM and/or sms/text messaging? Do they have the phone number to the reference desk? Are these on one handy card that you can pass out to library patrons?

More on The Web as Communication

I posted this yesterday, and received some good comments. So this post will focus on those comments:

Comment #1:
Add patience to that list 😉 From SkaGirlie (make sure to read her way-hip blog, by the way). Sorta tongue-in-cheek, sorta not. My three solutions for what to do with staff that don’t want to accept the web as communication focused on the staff members themselves. Skagirlie’s solution focused on… well… ME! Those of us who “get it” need to be extremely patient as we deal with those who don’t “get it.”

We also need to make sure we don’t lump those who don’t get it into one all-inclusive “don’t get it” category. That seemingly reluctant staff member might be awesome, say, at children’s outreach… and once your patience and continued explanations have sunk in, that person might take off with some new “so completely with it” focus that you’ll be blown away. It’s happened before.

Comment #2 [edited a tad]:
Where is the line drawn? … But if we are talking about communication – then what about providing Skype on a public terminal? Again, little additional expense (assuming that someone brings their own headset) or effort on behalf of the library … What about setting aside a semi-private space for videoconferencing? … just wondering what makes sense for a broad array of libraries and what tools / facilities they provide to their communities. From cj.

Good points! Why don’t libraries provide Skype to their customers… Wow. I can see it now: “Library provides free long distance service to community. Baby Bell is considering a lawsuit. News at 11.” But seriously…

Bottom line? Libraries need to find out how their customers want to communicate, and then do that. Is it IM? Then provide IM. Do you have a large customer base that has been asking for Skype? Then why not? Videoconferencing? My library has considered it – I won’t be surprised if we offer videoconferencing in the future (depending on funds, of course). Other libraries do offer videoconferencing. Here’s one from a small public library in Missouri. I’m sure there are others, too.

So again – focus on what your customers: 1. are doing. and 2. want (within reason, budget, and technical limitations).

Comment #3:
We don’t offer the IM clients here at the Missouri River Regional Library, because of patron privacy concerns. We are concerned about the fact that many patrons would set the client to remember their user/pass combo and then the next person to use the machine would have access to their “stuff”. The way we get around this is to provide links to a web-based service called e-messenger. This seems to work pretty well – so far! From Robin.

Good idea! e-Messenger is to the web what Trillian or Gaim is to client-based IM – it provides a way to chat via MSN, Yahoo!, and/or AIM. If you want just one flavor of web-based IM, try services like AIM Express, MSN Web Messenger, or Yahoo! Web Messenger.

Fun Way to Market IM Reference

From the Library Marketing blog – UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries is marketing their IM reference service in a fun way. They have created stickers with the library’s IM name that are passed out to students during new student orientations and instruction sessions.

Thay are seeing students stick these stickers on their notebooks and laptops – how cool is that? Thought I’d pass on an excellent idea!

Web-based Instant Messaging

Aaron over at walking paper mentioned a web-based version of AIM – AIM Express. The web-based version allows people to do IM without having to use the AIM Messenger program – instead, you use a web-based version. Nothing to download!

Yahoo is testing a similar product (click the link, go to the bottom of the page, click Launch Web Messenger).

We’re going to test these out to make sure they work in our locked-down public PC setting…