Put the iPhone Down

smartphones and feature phonesI just saw this article (via Beth Kanter’s Twitter feed) about the evils of smartphones. In this particular article, Sheldon Yellen talks about being a more effective CEO by continuing to use his old flip phone.

He says this: “… keeping my flip phone and saying “no” to constant interruptions was one of my most profitable business decisions.” He then goes on to talk about all the distractions that a smartphone introduces (like he’d know, since he still uses a flip phone).

He then talks about how distracting smartphones can be: “One of the main factors in my decision was the distraction that smartphones introduce. I’ve seen people stare under the table in meetings, glued to an app rather than contributing.” Yeah. So, when you were noticing your employees checking their email rather than being attentive in your meetings? That means the meeting was boring. Stop holding boring meetings! Problem solved.

Then Sheldon provides four “benefits” to going without a smartphone. Here’s the list of benefits with my comments:

1. Increased efficiency. He thinks that freeing oneself from smartphone apps makes you more productive. Then he talks about how Facebook costs U.S. employers $28 billion in lost productivity annually. First of all, the article Sheldon points to doesn’t mention anything about the Facebook mobile app, so it’s a bad comparison for his article. Secondly, there are quite a few articles that talk about how Facebook makes employees MORE productive at work. And of course, there’s the added irony that his own company has a Facebook Page.

2. Direct Communication. Here, he’s confusing his preferred method of communication (phone calls and taking notes by hand) with something that works for everyone. Simply not true. For example, I type faster than I write, and when I want to remember something, I email it to myself and stick it in a folder for later recall.

3. More mental exercise. Sheldon thinks that doing things like calculating tips makes your brain work better, rather than relying on smartphones. Hmm … have any proof of that? Because there are plenty of articles that claim our digital devices just might be making us smarter.

4. Business diplomacy. Sheldon doesn’t really talk about “business diplomacy” here. He talks about Facebook friends not being real friends, and how it’s better to talk to people offline. Sure. Agreed. But … that doesn’t really have anything whatsoever to do with owning a smartphone. So … ??

I’m pretty sure most of you lovely readers know this – owning a smartphone is not the issue here. Here’s what I’d suggest to Sheldon: get a smartphone and really learn how to use it. Use it for 3-6 months. Have someone help you find some really useful productivity apps.

Then write another article about the experience. Hard to write about the evils of a smartphone if you’ve never owned one!

Phone photo by Thord Daniel Hedengren

Mobile Technology Presentation

I just gave a presentation on mobile technology for the Future Tech Strategies in Libraries symposium for the University of Toronto iSchool. Here are my slides! This presentation have two parts:

  1. current and emerging trends in mobile technology devices
  2. eight ways libraries can respond to these trends

Enjoy!

What’s in Your Bag?

Photo of stuff in my bag

What do you carry around every day? I just reassessed what’s in my bag … because I purchased a new one.

I’ve been an avid fan of Timbuk2 bags, and have owned three of them. The first two lasted a couple of years, and then the strap broke on the first one, and the second one developed a lovely little hole.

The third one’s been fine, but I recently changed from a 15″ laptop to a 13″ laptop … and the 13″ is MUCH smaller. So I decided to treat myself to a new laptop bag.

This time, I decided to try another bag. I’ve heard good things about Tom Bihn bags, so I bought the Tom Bihn Ristretto bag, made for 13″ laptops. Short story on this bag: I had been eying the olive bag, but when I finally went to purchase it, they didn’t have any more olive bags listed. So I emailed customer service and asked if there happened to be any more lying around the office (and really didn’t expect to hear back from them).

Guess what? Someone from the company promptly emailed back and said I was in luck – there was ONE more olive bag, and she’d hold it for me! So I’m pretty sure I have the LAST Olive Ristretto bag :-). Great customer service from Tom Bihn (and thanks Hannah)!

The smaller size of my new bag made me reassess what I was carrying around. I realized I was carrying around a lot of stuff I really didn’t need to be carrying. And it’s now cleaned out.

So what am I carrying now? Here’s a list (the photo in this post is my stuff, too):

  • 13” macbook pro, mouse and power cable
  • iPhone cable, iPhone battery charger, earbuds
  • extra mouse batteries and charger
  • business cards in black case
  • USB thumb drive
  • reading glasses
  • pens & pencils
  • Some presenter stuff: macbook VGA adapter & Kensington Wireless Presenter pointer
  • bandaid and Advil
  • Work stuff: keys & work door badge
  • Video stuff: Photojojo iPhone camera lenses, lapel microphone, Glif iPhone holder & handgrip
  • and a buckeye from my grandpa

So … what’s in your bag? Please share!

My Trend (with Stats) from the #alaac14 Top Tech Trends Panel

I was recently on the Top Tech Trends panel at the American Library Association’s annual conference (and have finally recuperated – whew!).

Someone asked me for references to the stats I quoted. Here they are, with a version of what I said (quasi-outline form).

My trend was Mobile First technology:

Some stats (with links!):

What’s going on here?

  • Mobile revolution. Smartphones and tablets.
  • wifi & cell connectivity pretty much anywhere. Except in my hotel.
  • This allows people to connect whenever.

And this is HUGE.

My trend is Mobile First technology. This is the idea that websites should be designed for mobile devices first, and then expand out. Desktops get an enhanced site experience (bigger buttons, full logo) rather than mobiles getting a pared down one.

You can also apply this philosophy to a larger library setting, there are some pretty big ramifications for how we work:

  • mobile on website – Build for mobile first. Write for mobile (there’s a way to do it to make it look “right” on mobile devices). If it doesn’t work on a mobile device … maybe you don’t need it anywhere.
  • mobile in building – Huge untapped user base here. wifi, power. Power cables and charging stations to check out. Comfy chairs. Text messaging in catalog. Simple things like signage – “we have wifi” or “we have ebooks.”
  • mobile in community – Wifi in 9 blocks. Jason’s LibraryBoxes in the park or at the farmer’s market. Mifi hotspot at the farmer’s market. Ebooks in the mall. Etc.
  • mobile for staff – who uses a smartphone for work-related activities? And does your library pay for it, or subsidize it? Maybe they should. Wifi for staff. Tablets for reference staff.

Final thought – Mobile has been a trend for awhile now. But I don’t think libraries have a mobile first philosophy yet. We don’t have some simple “mobile first” things yet, like a truly responsive mobile-friendly website, let alone great mobile access and services in the building or our community.

So let’s start working on mobile first NOW.

Pic by Karlis Dambrans

Your Website is Already Mobile

Your website is already mobile. It just might not be delivering the best experience.

Jeff Wisniewski, in his presentation on responsive design at Internet Librarian 2013, said this – “All of your content is now mobile, so be kind.”

What did Jeff mean? Probably this – If your organization has a website, it’s already “mobile” … because people with smartphones can get to it using their smartphone web browsers.

It’s a done deal.

Well – sorta done. Your website might be available to mobile users, but is it usable? Does it adapt or respond to different screen sizes? Is the content written to be quickly scannable on a mobile device, or is it a huge river of text?

Here’s a question for you: What kind of experience are you providing your mobile customers? Is it good or bad? Have you ever thought about the mobile web user experience? If your organization is providing a less-than-stellar” mobile web experience, what are you planning to do to improve it?

I’d love to know!

Pic by Robert Scoble