UPDATED 07/18/12

To cut to the chase: Try changing your wireless access point to Channel 11.

The follow-up post may also be of interest: It Won’t Print Again.

Keep reading for the original post.

I have a friend who used to work in another nearby department on campus. He used to call me up just for fun and say, “It won’t print.” That’s all. No “Hello.” No “How are you doing?” Just “It won’t print.” It was kind of a running joke because I used to tell him about a number of the really strange printing problems I tackled.

It’s strange that in this age of being able to do so many things completely electronically people still like to print. They still like things on paper. I’m no different. Some things I just really want on paper. If a company doesn’t send me an e-mail confirmation within about five minutes of an online order, I’ll print the confirmation page. I’ve tried electronic boarding passes before, and I’ve let the airline scan my phone. Somehow though, I feel better with a paper boarding pass. Why? Maybe I feel that I’m more likely to lose my phone than that magic piece of paper. Perhaps my phone battery might die. Or how about this one? Maybe my phone will crash. It has happened before. My paper boarding pass has never crashed. Oh, it might get a little wrinkled and smudged, but the airline has never had a problem scanning it.

Whatever. I still want to print things sometimes.

About a year ago I built a new computer. It didn’t have a parallel port, and the USB-to-parallel cable didn’t work, so I wound up abandoning my trusty old HP LaserJet 6P for a new LaserJet P1102w. As these things often do, it went swimmingly at first. I installed the driver, printed a test page, and all was well. The wireless printing was fine as well, so I installed the driver on another laptop or two. Over the past year, it got gradually worse. It reached the point where it wouldn’t print without a lot of coaxing. I ignored it thinking that I would get around to it someday. Someday finally came when some visiting relatives needed to print their boarding passes and it wouldn’t print ANYTHING – not a test page or even a page of mojibake.

I took a shortcut by printing from a USB connection before settling in to finally tackle the problem. I’m not going to give a blow-by-blow account of the troubleshooting, but anyone who has ever tried to solve a problem knows that there are a number of possible problems with just the printer and the computer. Add wireless printing into the mix and you introduce a number of other interesting variables.

I Googled. I poured over the HP forums. I removed the software and tried reinstalling it. I tried reconnecting to the wireless access point. I finally determined that the printer absolutely was not connecting to the AP. It wasn’t leasing an IP address, and its MAC address wasn’t showing up in the list of devices attached to the access point. Somewhere I finally came across a web posting where someone noted that the printer seemed to work best with the wireless access point was set to channel 11. I changed mine from channel 5 to 11, and I had the proverbial “Voila!” moment. Everything started working again across all devices. Printing was rock solid after reboots, after idle time, and after printer hibernation. I was back in business.

I’ve been doing computer support since the mid-nineties, so I remember exactly how we used to do our troubleshooting before there was such a wealth of technical support material online. Of course people were solving problems like this long before there was any online information, but it sure makes a difference! That experience notwithstanding, I still find myself occasionally asking, “How do we ever do this before the Internet?”

I guess I should also be asking, “How long until I can stop printing?”

While on vacation recently, I tried to do business with two different companies from my iPhone. I was trying to add services that I wanted, and that would have translated into a little more revenue for them. Alas, it was not to be. For both products, I was able to successfully navigate all of their sign-up forms until I reached the very last “submit” button.

 

The. Very. Last. One.

 

As in  . . . the one that equals “buy”.

 

It just didn’t work. I tapped and tapped, but the phone couldn’t submit the content.

 

For one company this won’t be a big deal. I’ll have an opportunity to use their service again later. For the other company though, this represents a tiny little loss in profit. I needed their service while I was on vacation. Now that I’m home, I don’t need it anymore, and I haven’t been back to their website. All because the website didn’t support a mobile browser.

 

Now I understand that when you’re coming from a mobile browser, you shouldn’t necessarily expect the full website experience, and I didn’t. But if the website lets me make it most of the way through a purchase, I expect it to let me complete the purchase. Oh well. Maybe they just didn’t want my business since I was coming from a mobile platform. Funny thing though . . . the company has two mobile apps that I wanted to use after I subscribed to their service. Go figure.

I came across an interesting article at ReadWriteWeb today: 25% of American Adults Use Location-Based Services. I found it particularly interesting because earlier today I deleted my last three location-based gaming apps.

 

Now the article about ReadWriteWeb was talking about location-based services in general, but it made me think about my own experiences with location-based gaming. At the 2010 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston, I heard a lot of people talking about location-based services and their possibilities for libraries. In particular, they talked about three location-based games: Foursquare, Gowalla, and MyTown. I downloaded the apps and tried them all while I was at ALA. I’ve played with all of them off and on over the past year and a half. I deleted them today. Earlier this year I also downloaded, played, and deleted another location-based game called Shadow Cities.

 

In thinking back over why I deleted these games, there were a variety of reasons. The Shadow Cities gameplay just didn’t appeal to me. For the other three, there just wasn’t any compelling incentive. Gathering mayorships, unlocking badges, and collecting rent are fine for the first week. After that, what’s left? Not much – for me anyway.

 

The incentive issue actually splits into several issues. First, although I know several people with smartphones , this type of gaming just doesn’t appeal to them. Since I couldn’t compete with my friends, that ruled out any possible “social” incentive for these games. Then there is the lack of mayoral awards in my area. They just aren’t there. When I’m in other cities, I occasionally see special incentives for checking in or being the mayor of a location. Where I live though, Foursquare just isn’t that big with businesses, so there are no incentives for checking in or becoming mayor. MyTown had its own problems. Basically you reach a level cap where you can’t buy any more properties, you can’t upgrade your properties any more, and the game is essentially over. Oh sure, you can keep buying and selling your business and collecting rent if you want to, but once you’re a gazillionaire, it doesn’t really matter any more does it? Interestingly, I see that Booyah just released MyTown 2. I think I’ll give that one a pass. I used Gowalla the least, but it was actually the most interesting of the three. Still, it failed to keep my interest.

 

There was one particularly noticeable disincentive to using these apps. All of them depend on using location services on my phone, and using location services burns battery life. I was surprised at how much a few check-ins would eat away at the battery when I traveled, but it did, and sometimes battery life is too precious a commodity to spend with a service that you don’t enjoy that much anyway.

 

Finally, and perhaps most surprisingly, these location-based apps actually took away from the enjoyment of the places I visited. I found myself frequently checking in on all three apps. I wasn’t compulsively checking in, but the very act of checking in meant that I was spending a little more time on my phone and little less on enjoying my location.

 

So . . . I’m finished with location-based gaming for now. It was an interesting experiment. I’ll still use other location-based apps, but I’ve retired the games. I might still feel a little twinge each time I lose a mayorship, but I don’t think that will be enough to pul e out of retirement.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

1:30 p.m.

WCC Ballroom B

Moderator – Gregg Silvis, Chair of the LITA Top Tech Trends Committee and Assistant Director for Library Computing Systems, University of Delaware

Panelists

John Blyberg

Assistant Director for Innovation and User Experience, Darien (CT) Library.

http://www.blyberg.net

 

Lorcan Dempsey

Vice President, OCLC Research and Chief Strategist, OCLC.

http://orweblog.oclc.org

 

Jason Griffey

Head of Library Information Technology, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.

http://www.jasongriffey.net

Pattern Recognition

 

Monique Sendze

Associate Director of IT and Virtual Services, Douglas County (CO) Libraries.

http://www.DouglasCountyLibraries.org

 

Cindi Trainor

Coordinator for Library Technology and Data Services, Eastern Kentucky University Libraries.

http://citegeist.com

 

Joan Frye Williams

Information Technology Consultant.

http://jfwilliams.com

 

Panelists will speak on three types of trends: current, imminent (6-12 months), and long-range (3 years or longer).

Blyberg – Multilevel convergent media.

If we look at the way we consume media now on our various devices, content delivery is not one-dimensional.

Media and information are flowing in the context of what’s happening in the world around us. Ex. – Twitter.

Users (not manufacturers) are the ones who find ways to take advantage of new devices.

In the past convergent devices have been less effective than their component parts. Think about trying to write a term paper on an iPhone. You’re not going to do it, because it’s not the right device to do that kind of work.

With new devices such as the iPad, the quality of the convergent device is greatly improved so we can do things in a much more efficient way.

Convergent devices provide the opportunity for everyday people to connect to something larger.

Dempsey – Mobile

As we begin to provide services for mobile devices, it’s not a matter of mobilizing the existing array of services. It’s about how services can be reconfigured for this environment.

It also offers a way to connect the physical environment and the digital environment. How can we connect users in our physical spaces with new experiences? QR codes offer one possibility.

We can think about services in a new location-based sense. WolfWalk from North Carolina State University offers one example. Users can walk around campus looking through an app on their phones, and historical building information from the library archive is overlaid on what the see. (augmented reality)

Mobilization introduces microcoordination. We coordinate our activities at a much more fine-grained level (because we’re always connected). This changes the way we think about space because people need to meet in a more ad hoc way. We need better ways of microcoordinating and the facilities to do that.

If you have a lot of devices, you can do a lot of creative things. Things move up to the cloud because you want your content to be available on every device wherever you are. You don’t want to be tied to a particular machine.

Griffey

For the majority of the life of the library, the material we bought has been tied to a container, and that container provided the user interface. Increasingly what we purchase is no longer in a container: it is information without an interface. We’re having to purchase or build the interface to interact with the information. Over the last few years we’ve been trying to give people mobile containers because of the increasing use of mobile devices.

The next big drive will be in the area of touch-based interfaces. This is happening because of touch-based phones, the iPad, and the upcoming devices that will follow the iPad. These have changed the way we have interact with things things that contain information.

People who have used iPads describe them in emotional ways. People are emotional about books because we interact with them in a tactile way, and there is a connection when we touch them. Interfaces like the iPad give us that back. Touch-based interfaces give us unmediated access to the content: there is no mouse or pointer between us and the content.

As more touch-based interfaces emerge, that will be the method by which younger generations interact with information.

Sendze

We will see a lot of new devices making their way into libraries. The differences will be in the software and applications.

Libraries are still in the infancy stage of interacting with mobile technology, but the commercial sector is already doing this very well.

Libraries are going to have to adopt a different approach from that used in dealing with library catalogs in terms of having disjointed interfaces. We’re going to move really quickly with the software and applications for mobile platforms in order for us to be relevant.

Users aren’t coming to us because of mobile devices; they’re coming to us because of the experience.

Will there be a time when we don’t have public access computers and provide instead a platform for users to interact and have a library experience? People are coming into the library with their own devices, and they want to access our content. The hardware will not be an issue.

The iPad changed the mobile platform because of the user experience. Will we be able to get to the point in our libraries where we are using mobile devices to interact with patrons? (Ex. circulation transactions)

We need to develop a mobile strategy so we will continue to be relevant to our users.

Trainor

We’re undergoing a transformation of libraries from places where users have to figure out where to go depending upon what they want (ILL, etc.) to places of "You ask for it, we get it.

This has implications for library workflows, tools, and user-centeredness. Services should be user-centered rather that fitting workflows around the tools that we happen to have.

How do you get patrons to things that you don’t own? Some libraries are experimenting with putting MARC records for all e-books offered by their vendors into the catalog. If the library doesn’t own the item a patron needs, there is an option to purchase. Collections are more patron-driven.

Williams

I don’t track technology. I track human behavior, cultural changes, and follow the money. I look around and see what kinds of implications that might have for library technology.

The recently-failed economy was driven centrally and included a lot of lawyers, bankers, and accountants. Local governments seem to be interested in the "creative economy." There is a lot of talk about cities and counties thriving by attracting people in creative disciplines. The model for a creative economy tends to be individualized small business – typically home-based – entrepreneurial, and hyper-local.

How can libraries intersect this particular trend? Libraries are well-positions as incubators for "creatives," because they have great bandwidth, they’re media-rich environments, and they’re already established as meeting places.

There are implications for our workflows around what business we think we’re in, what environment we’re creating, and how we support that technologically.

The biggest challenge right now is to create workspaces that support creativity and innovation with all of its mess and iteration. If our technologies are deployed around discovery and transport, and if we assume that delivery of content is the end of our story, we’re hard-pressed to imagine a workspaces that supports a messy, iterative, studio creative process. But that’s where the money is.

We need to stop being the grocery store and start being the kitchen.

This is not a real change from our current capacity; it’s a change in emphasis. We think our work is done when we deliver content. We don’t provide the tools for people to work People go home and don’t always have the tools to work with the content.

As we design new workspaces, we have to consider the new ways in which people work. It’s not all with perpendicular monitors. The iPhone, iPad, Microsoft Surface, and similar touch-based technologies are even changing lighting requirements. Architects have never even considered these new ways of working.

I see a real problem with how we collect and manage creative content. The way people in creative areas access their content seldom has to do with topical descriptions. We have a lot of technique around how WE find stuff, but that’s not the work that’s going forward, and we need to support that too.

Question from Sendze to Blyberg

How confident are you that we’ll get to a point where things are so platform-independent that they all play well with each other.

Blyberg – I don’t think they have to play well together. Individuals need to find the devices that best fit their lives and create their own information frameworks based upon their needs and interests. That’s why the marketplaces isn’t just iPhone. These devices are just portals into what’s going on in our world.

Griffey

The way people are designing apps for the iPad is starting to take into account the ways in which people work collaboratively.

Williams

3D home fabrication. The line is blurring between information about a thing and the thing. The library world has moved in some disciplines toward collection, distributing, and manipulating shop drawings, CAD files, art. We need new ways to think about, organize, and manage the rights and re-versioning of the things.

In the future we’ll need to know a lot more about how things move from a set of descriptions to the object itself. We’ll need to know more about how that will be managed and retrieved.

Ex. Architects look at shapes. We don’t bring a design sensibility to the way we organize things. We don’t tag by shape. There is room for a new type of information that is a step in the manufacturing flow.

Trainor

Facebook – Anonymity and open-source

As more people (non-techie people) begin using emerging technologies, the conversations around these social tools are changing.

Who is responsible for preserving the new collective knowledge being created online? This content can’t be bought and owned by a single or even multiple libraries. For example, the Facebook terms of service states that contributed content belongs to Facebook. Will we be able to go back and look at this Facebook content in 100 years?

Sendze – Changes in the way IT as a function is delivered.

When technology started coming into libraries (especially 2.0 technologies), there was a shift in what librarianship was going to be. We all had to redefine what it was going to be.

Cloud computing is going to redefine the way we use our back room IT staff. We have situations where entire infrastructures are being hosted in the cloud. A lot of my infrastructure is already in the cloud. My web services are with Amazon. My backups are in the cloud.

IT is going to have to become embedded in the day to day work of the library. They’re no longer going to have to be the back room people.

Griffey

There are currently two main classes of e-readers: e-ink devices such as the Sony Reader, the Kindle, and the Barnes & Noble Nook; and LCD devices such as the iPad.

The prices of e-ink devices (Kindle, Nook, etc.) are plummeting. By this time next year we’ll probably see $50 e-readers.

"How does it change our acquisitions and our materials processing and our circulation when you can purchase an e-reader for under $50 that has the entire western canon on it for free?"

How do you change the model for providing books for an intro to literature class when you can buy a device that has every book the students will read and the content doesn’t cost anything?

At this price point, e-ink devices become almost disposable. At the same time there is a rise in LCD and OLED displays. The new iPhone display is 326 dpi. This is literally better than the quality of most printed magazines. This technology can eliminate some of the problems that people have noted with electronic displays because the quality is literally better than print.

These types of screens will allow us to display things and provide content in ways that were never possible before.

The 2011 iPad will probably have Apple’s new Retina Display. On the low end we will have disposable e-ink devices.

Dempsey

There is a lot of interest in what is currently called the discovery layer. Over the next few years they will change the character of how we look at the library collection. As these services represent as much of what is available as possible (licensed materials, books, digitized materials), they will come to be seen by users as the full library collection. The library collection will be what is available through the discovery layer. This will push the integration of other services. You could also see Google Book material, ILL services, and a variety of other services.

Once you reach the point where these services are part of the library offering, more patron-driven options begin to emerge. You can present a "possible collection" through the discovery layer, and behind that decisions are made about whether to acquire things based on patron demand and discovery.

Blyberg

Open source library systems

If you have something really successful you see instant returns, and you see them fairly quickly. But you get to the point where successes plateau, and everything gets quite a bit harder. At that point you have to decide whether to quit or keep going.

The next 6-12 months is a period of a dip for open source software in 4 areas: technical, logistical, financial, behavioral.

Logistical – A lot of libraries have migrated to open source systems in the last year – so many in fact, that they’re going to have trouble finding support. There are a limited number of support agencies, but this mass exodus from proprietary to open source systems has really overburdened the existing support system.

Technical – The open source alternatives available right now don’t really go toe-to-toe with proprietary alternatives in terms of feature sets. That’s okay in the short term, but in the long term this lack of functionality may be compounded into other problems.

Financial – We’re coming to the end of first- and second-round grant funding for open source implementation, and there’s no guarantee that the money will still be available in the future.

Behavioral – I think that the open source community has a way to go before it reaches the point where it can participate professionally in discussion about what open source is and can be. Ex. A paper critical of open source was leaked last year, and the response from the community was less than professional.

This is sort of a natural process on the way to becoming a significant contributor.

Griffey

4th generation mobile infrastructure will be in place in 3-5 years. 4G will give a minimum of 100 megabits per second to cell phones. It will be like walking around with an ethernet cord in your pocket. We don’t really know yet what we’re going to do with this level of bandwidth, but it gives us an unprecedented ability to send/receive information quickly.

Researcher Masatoshi Ishikawa has developed a scanner that allows high-speed book scans simply by fanning the book pages in front of the camera. When asked about where he thought the technology would be use, Ishikawa replied that it would be use by cell phones.

What kind of world will it be when we have ubiquitous high-speed Internet access coupled with a device for which print is digitally available at any moment? Combine this with Google Translate . . .

Google Translate – Take a picture of words in another language, Google OCRs it, and gives it to you in the language of your choice.

Sendze

Profiling and the death of Internet anonymity

Search engine and other online companies are collection a lot of information about users and doing a lot of data analysis as well as commoditizing it. In contrast, libraries collection a lot of patron information, but we have policies for purging it. We really don’t hold onto patron data. It seems that our users are willingly giving a lot of information to online entities for what the users perceive as their own benefit. We have the same data on our users, but we’re not mining it or using it. I see an Internet that will offers ways to present content to users before they even know exactly what they want. Will this change the way we think about privacy in libraries?

Does the library have a better reputation for protecting privacy than companies?

Our users want us to offer better suggestions. They want us to present content that might be useful to them based on their profile. This could transform the way we look at patron privacy.

Trainor

The era of physical copy scarcity is over. What will be the rare and valuable things in the future?

It’s up to libraries to help provide access to whatever these rare and valuable things will be and to help patrons navigate that landscape.

What is the role of the instruction librarian when a lot of students interact with the library through the website? What is our role when we no longer have face-to-face interactions at all?

Williams

The information industry is evolving in ways that mimic the energy industry. There are interesting relationships between those who supply and those who distribute. Libraries have primarily been involved on the distribution side of information while the supply side has been globalized.

Many libraries are trying to attain clean information systems. But we’re all vulnerable to spills. What is the analogy to an spill? Massive loss of access. Massive data corruption. Government crackdowns after an incident that limits access to information.

Could there be a possibility of war of over preserving the information supply from a strategic partner who controls information that we didn’t create?

Is it possible to position libraries as strategic information reserves?

Blyberg

Two external elements pushing against libraries: Visual content and our access to it; the economy.

We’re going to enter a phase where libraries need to admit that they’re very inefficient. That will make us look at what our overhead is on backend processes. Some of these backend processes can be automated and made much more efficient.

Dempsey

Libraries have spent a lot of time managing the complexity of multiple streams of resources. Systems for bought materials, licensed materials, repositories for digitized materials, etc. This means that there is a lot of time spent on overhead activities and less time on managing the relationships with users.

Users are finding ways to get what they want in CONVENIENT ways.

Perhaps some of the ways libraries manage supply don’t have the same value or relevance because the supply channels are simplifying and users are finding content elsewhere.

There are a variety of areas where the library wants to make sure that their constituency uses information effectively.

Library systems don’t rate, recommend, and relate things in the same ways that consumer systems do. We need better ways of doing this in library systems, because users expect it.

Embedding resources in the environments in which people need them.

Services that connect your workflows to library resources.

Good search optimization techniques.

 

The liveblog for the session is available here.

 

The LITA blog writeup is available here.

 

The video of this session is available here.

 

You can read the American Libraries writeups here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Top Tech Trends Links

Posted: June 27, 2010 in ala10, LITA, ttt10
Tags: , ,

Sunday, June 27, 2010
1:30 p.m.
WCC Ballroom B

Here are a few things either spoken about directly or alluded to during the Top Tech Trends program at ALA 2010

3D Fabrication
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_fabricator

Augmented Reality
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augmented_reality
http://www.howstuffworks.com/augmented-reality.htm

Book Flip Scanning
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExW64zOZGoI’

The Dip
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1591841666?tag2=zoometry-20/permissionmarket

Discovery Layer
http://www.librarytechnology.org/discovery.pl

Facebook
http://www.facebook.com

Google Translate for Android
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_j4OkjANKk

iPad
http://www.apple.com/ipad/

iPhone
http://www.apple.com/iphone/

Kindle
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0015T963C/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=5671733707&ref=pd_sl_49iwmuxyif_b

Masatoshi Ishikawa
http://www.k2.t.u-tokyo.ac.jp/members/ishikawa/ishikawa-e.html

Nook
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/nook/index.asp

QR Codes
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_Code

Retina Display
http://www.apple.com/iphone/features/retina-display.html

Seth Godin
http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/

Sony Reader
http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&categoryId=8198552921644523779

WolfWalk
http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/dli/projects/wolfwalk/
http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/wolfwalk/

The liveblog for the session is available here.

 

The LITA blog writeup is available here.

 

The video of this session is available here.

 

You can read the American Libraries writeups here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

In considering the iPad, one of my early concerns was the lack of a stylus and handwriting recognition software. I’ve used good versions of these tools before, and I know how powerful they can be. While getting ready to head off to ALA, I decided that I would try a couple of iPad tools. The obligatory Googling led me to the WritePad app and the Pogo Sketch Stylus.

 

I’ve found WritePad to be a very functional application. The handwriting recognition is good – at least with a finger. It’s not so good with the stylus, but I find that to be a fault of the stylus rather than WritePad. More on that later. I would greatly prefer that handwriting recognition be thoughtfully integrated throughout the iPad OS, but Apple obviously doesn’t share my enthusiasm. As it is, handwriting is converted to text within the WritePad app. From there it’s a copy/paste job if you want to move it into another application.

 

Unfortunately, the Pogo Sketch Stylus proved to be a disaster. I bought it expressly for use at this conference, and it was so bad that I left it at home. No point in packing a useless item, right? I’ve struggled with how to describe the Pogo Sketch, and this is what I’ve come up with . . .

 

Remember when you were little and got a nice, new box of Magic Markers? Your pictures had crisp, clean lines, and all was right with the world. Then THAT KID got his hands on them. You know the one: the kid who smashed the markers down on the paper as hard as he could, thus ruining the tips and turning them into a mushy bunch of fibers. That’s what the Pogo Sketch feels like and looks like – a mushy bunch of fibers. Remember how you couldn’t really get a clean line after that kid smashed the marker tips? That’s how the Pogo Sketch responds. My handwriting isn’t the prettiest, but it is completely legible with pen and paper. With this stylus, it becomes almost unreadable. Just like a mushy Magic Marker, you can’t predict where the lines will fall. You wind up with stray marks and marks that don’t line up correctly. Not surprisingly, WritePad can’t really do anything with the resulting characters. I wish I could say that I just need more practice, but I’ve used styli for years. I had a sinking feeling as soon as I saw the tip of the Pogo Sketch, and my fears were confirmed when I actually used it.

 

So you can’t always get what you want. I’m still looking for the optimal combination. WritePad will be fine with the correct stylus, but it would be better if integrated throughout the OS. Pogo Sketch just doesn’t get the job done, so I’m still looking. *sigh* The iPad has such possibilities. Get with the program, Apple.

 

After I finally convinced myself that I wanted an iPad, I vaguely expected that I would use it primarily as a larger form factor of my older, smaller handheld devices. I figured I would download a lot of the classics and enjoy them on a more book-sized screen. I’ve been playing with my iPad for just under a week now, and I’ve already noticed several changes in my reading – or perhaps more accurately – book acquisition habits.

 

First, and perhaps most significantly, I finally bought an e-book. Heretofore all of my e-book reading has been of out-of-copyright material that I could find on any of a number of e-book websites. However, I finally purchased one with the advent of the iPad. Actually I decided to make the purchase in the week leading up to product delivery, and I settled on Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic.

 

(Here’s an interesting tidbit about this one. I’ve been wanting to read the Discworld series for quite awhile, but every time I check in a bookstore, they never have the first novel. Well of course I could just order it, but who wants to wait? Instead I usually just pick something else. So I went to purchase this title through iBooks, and I was surprised that it wasn’t there. Well that certainly threw a wrench in my gears, so I went for another series only to find that it wasn’t there either. I came back to Terry Prachett the next day, and I found that the book really was there: It was listed as The Color of Magic instead of The Colour of Magic. Interesting little “gotcha” there.

 

Next, I’ve been poking around a bit in an area that I haven’t visited in a long, long, time: comic books. Both Marvel and DC have very nice apps, and the iPad is a great platform for viewing comics. The rich, vivid colors and crisp screen make even old comics seem fresh and vibrant. (And of course a good story is always a good story.) So far I’ve just read a few free comics. I haven’t actually bought any comics yet, and I may not in the future. But that’s not the point. I walk past comic books all the time and never pick one up or give it more than a passing glance. Because of the iPad though, I’ve read a couple of titles in a genre I haven’t explored in years.

 

When I was in the airport yesterday heading for ALA, I walked past the bookstore. Walked past it. Didn’t stop. That’s unusual for me. I actually buy quite a number of books from airport bookstores during waits and layovers. At the very least I spend a lot of time browsing. This time I did neither. I just walked on by with the knowledge that I can grab a lot of titles over the air whenever I like. I’ve done this for out-of-copyright books for years, but now that I’ve made the leap into more recent titles, the world – as they say – is my oyster.

 

Finally, I have to say something about iBooks. I’ve read books on PDAs and smartphones for years. The screen is small, but it works, and I’ve read hundreds of books this way. iBooks is changing that though – not by completely replacing the handheld – but by enhancing it. iBooks provides the option for syncing bookmarks, highlighting, and notes between the book on my iPad and the iBooks application on my phone. In the short term, this has meant that when I wrap up a reading session on the iPad, I can pick up in exactly the same place in my book even if I don’t have the iPad with me.

 

It will be interesting to see how things play out with the iPad over the next couple of months. These are pretty minor changes admittedly, but I’m still at less than a week on the platform. I wonder what the future will bring?