Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Short Code Texting Services in Libraries

Chances are if you are into texting on your mobile phone you have sent a message to a five or six digit ‘phone’ number (such as to 32665 to update your Facebook status). 

Long popular outside of the US, short codes are being used for a variety of value-added services such as television voting, ordering ring tones, charity donations and mobile device-centric services. My last post was about how short codes were being used at the Detroit Auto Show. 

My first experience using a short code was during the Blue Man Group’s first 'How to be a Megastar' tour over three years ago. BMG used texting /short code technology to allow audience interaction with the story line / show. More recently, President Obama alerted over 1 million people about his VP selection to those that sent the text ‘VP” to 62262.  

I did a little research to get a better understanding how short codes work.

Legacy phone numbers make use of prefix codes since conventional landline technology has no way of indicating the end of the phone number. On mobile phones, however, all the numbers are sent at once. Since the mobile network knows the end of the dialed number, short codes can be used without conflicting with a longer prefixed number. For instance, a landline could not use the short code 12345, since then one could then not dial the phone number 1 234 5XX XXXX, or any other number that shared the 12345 prefix for that matter. There is no such ambiguity with mobile phones.

Short codes can be associated with a specific carrier or they can be registered as a common short code (CSC) that is available on most carriers. A short code directory is available.

Many libraries are using texting services, such as the Carmel Clay (IN) Public Library, Yale, and the Carroll County Public Library, to name a few that came up first on my Google search. There are also other creative ways in which texting could be used to not only provide services, but market the library. All the library texting services I uncovered use 'shared code service' such as those available from a large number of services which include Kwiry, Tagga, Mozes and Textmarks.

Registering and leasing a specific CSC for a library (non-shared) is costly. Registering the vanity number (e.g. 77467, PRIOR for our library) would costs $1,000 per month; $500 for a random short code number. Paying $12,000 a year for a texting service would seem out of reach for many libraries. The library would then need to negotiate activation and sign an agreement with each wireless carriers before the library can connect to their network and begin sending message traffic. Working with connectivity aggregators that have existing contracts with the wireless service providers may facilitate this process. Using a shared service seems to make economic sense. 

Are you using a short code service in your library? I would love to hear about what you are using and your experience. 
Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Information Technology in Use at Detroit Auto Show

My buddy Jeff and I drove up to the Detroit Auto Show this past Monday. While we were there to see all the new automobile technology (everyone had an electric / hybrid car of some sort), what caught my attention was the increased use of information technology, specifically that which makes use of mobile devices, although few manufacturers were using it. 

The first manufacturer we saw upon entering was Ford. We worked our way back to the new Mustang, which was on a rotisserie so you could see the undercarriage. It was there where I notice at the bottom of an information sheet the note "for more information online, text MUSTANG to KWIRY 59479)". 

So I did, although I was concerned that I would start getting junk text messages from Ford.  The text I received back suggested that I either reply to that message with my email address or go to a website. I knew I didn't want junk email, so I went to the web site. Which contained literally nothing. Still a good idea to get to supplemental materials, if it worked. 

(When I got home, I looked up Kwiry. Their marketing slogan is "see it? hear it? text it before you forget it!" Kwiry support many different inputs and outputs. I am still playing around with this service and will post about it soon. )

The other information technology which was in use at the auto show was QR codes. KIA was the only manufacturer to make use of it. Not only were the codes used on signage, but they included them on their printed materials. Unfortunately, there is still no QR Code reader for my Sprint Instinct. While QR Codes have become commonplace in Asia, support here in the states is extremely limited. This is too bad since I see a great deal of useful applications for them in libraries. Below is one that links to the URL of The Ohio State University Libraries web site. If I could only test it. 

qrcode Sphere: Related Content

Friday, January 16, 2009

Microblogging the US Airways Miracle

There was an interesting article in the Guardian about how the Hudson River plane crash provided yet more proof about how interconnected and connected we are. The most immediate and compelling reports and images of the event did not come from the media, but from citizens. 

This approach has been referred to as mobcasting or citizen media reporting like that which occurred during the Virginia Tech tragedy, the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai,  or even a power outage that occurred yesterday in Toronto. A person even twittered while still on a plane as it burned on the runway in Denver in December 2008. Heck, even Santa Twittered. 

The news about the Hudson River crash was all over Twitter within minutes. One of the earliest reports came from New Yorker who uploaded a photo of the plane floating in the river (Note: Everyone in the world is trying to access it, so the site is VERY slow and the 'reporter get their 15 minutes of fame) Within minutes, Twitter friends were repeating (retweeting) the plane crash messages or had found the original post using the Twitter search service.

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, January 09, 2009

Netbooks: The Next Mobile Trend

As a gadget lover, I always wished I had the travel budget to go to the Consumer Electronics Show. It is the place to see what technology is emerging and will possibly impact library services 2-3 years out.

This year's top technology may be  Netbooks, tiny laptops could soon be as ubiquitous as mobile phones. Netbooks are low-powered portables that offer web-based email, office and other services -a cloud computing device.
Netbooks, which have screens measuring 7-10 inches and weighing around 2 lbs, are being marketed at people who want to be able to surf the web on the go and always have access to email and social networking sites. Netbooks are defined by their low cost, many selling for under $600, and in a very compact form factor.

Nearly all offer several USB ports, a webcam, LED backlit screens, integrated speakers, and Wi-Fi. The next generation Netbooks should include touch-screens and GPS navigation.

Sound interesting? Here are 5 tips on buying a Netbook

Sphere: Related Content