For me, the gadget session presented by Hope Tillman of Babson College is always a “don’t miss”. Gadgets are fun, and there are so many new ones out there! Hope’s session usually points me to the next “toy” that I will buy. This year’s session did not disappoint.
Hope suggested that we can get a revealing look at our world by consulting the Beloit College Mindset List, which lists all the things that students in each incoming class have always had in their lives. For example, the class of 2008 has always been able to have photographs processed in an hour or less, Alan Greenspan has always been setting the nation’s financial direction, and computers have always suffered from viruses.
So what is a gadget? According to the dictionary, gadgets are more unusual or more cleverly designed than normal technology. But are they productivity enhancers or distractions? Are they useful or just time-consuming toys? They blur work and personal time, which is not necessarily a good thing! Gadgets represent what consumers are willing to buy, reflect customization and personalization trends, and continue to change.
Library applications of gadgets include marketing (podcasts, blogs, etc.), operations, communication and collaboration (IM, Wikis, Video conferencing, and learning or entertainment.
For librarians, Hope recommends Peter Morville’s book Ambient Findability as a “must read”. Below are a few screenshots of the gadgets that Hope described; her presentation will shortly be available on her Web site.