Texting. The cloud. E-books. Location-based services. Mobile devices, virtual worlds, microblogging, wikis, social media, and so on. What do these things have in common? They have all taken their turn as “the next big thing.” There’s never a been a shortage of up-and-coming library technologies, but while some prove to be revolutionary, others flame out just as quickly. Confusing matters even more, the next big thing might pan out great for Library A, but crash and burn for Library B. We all work with limited resources, so when we invest in a new tool or service, we want confidence our time and funds go towards something lasting and useful (rather than a lot of hype).
In the July 2010 issue of Library Technology Reports, Char Booth turns the next big thing on its head. By examining the “hype cycle” trajectory of a well established technology, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Booth offers more substantial insight into the rise-and-fall library innovation process over the long haul. In addition to providing a wealth of guidance on how librarians can use VoIP tools such as Skype to provide services and cut costs in everything from professional collaboration to video consultations and distance instruction, Booth explores how the same tools have been adopted, adapted and rejected throughout the field. “Hope, Hype and VoIP: Riding the Library Technology Cycle” provides guidelines for how librarians can evaluate emerging technologies critically, creatively and with an eye toward sustainability.
Char Booth is E-Learning Librarian at the University of California, Berkeley. A 2007 ALA Emerging Leader and 2008 Library Journal Mover and Shaker, Char blogs about library futures, instructional design, and technology literacy at informational (www.infomational.com), and tweets @charbooth.
In 2009 she published Informing Innovation: Tracking Student Interest in Emerging Library Technologies at Ohio University (ACRL Digital Publications) and has a book on teaching and technology effectiveness forthcoming in Fall 2010, Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning; Instructional Literacy for Library Educators (ALA Editions).
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