I attended the Handheld Librarian Online Conference on Thursday, July 30th and heard a presentation by Tom Peters. Peters is CEO of Tap Information Services and has 20 years experience in academic libraries. His presentation was entitled: “Mobility and Singularity: People, Communication, Information, Information Objects, and Information Services in Motion.” Peters began by stating that the use of mobile phone technology is a huge, rapid and global technology with an adoption rate that rivals toilets and toasters. According to Peters, 60 countries had a 100% adoption rate of mobile phones (not the U.S.) Peters had three areas to address in his talk: Mobility, Singularity and Our Sense of Place.
Peters addressed the numerous ways handheld devices can be used: gaming, phone, information (dedicated reading devices), communication and entertainment (portable music/media player). For libraries, these devices are being used for any type of content that can be delivered with this device: access to library collections via the catalog, library web site, reference services, tours, and to “push” out information such as coming library events or services. Peters stated (and I’m not sure I agree) that in the future, we will travel less, not because fuel is expensive, but because we don’t need to. Peters believes that mobile phone technology is an entirely different way of creating, interacting with and using information. Shoutbomb is software that enables “dumb” cellphones to send and receive information from online catalogs. This technology could function in a number of settings.
Peters argues that “we will revive a forgotten sense of rootedness and sense of place.” He thinks our fingers will do all our walking for us using handheld devices-and this will be the reason for a decline in mobility (again, I question this idea.) Peters’ idea is that because of handheld devices we will return to a “pre-industrial sense of place” and we will be able to focus more on our relationshsips. More engagement in local surroundings and a fundamental shift in the way we view our relationships with others is a lot to place in the lap of handheld devices. According to Tom Peters, however, these devices will fundamentally alter our sense of place.