Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Not a huge surprise, but still...

A link to a recent Pew Internet report (April 2009):

Summary: An April 2009 survey conducted by the Pew Research
Center's Internet& American Life Project asked respondents whether
they had used a variety of devices - laptops, cell phones, game consoles,
and more - to go online using a wireless network. Altogether, 56% of
Americans said they have at some point used wireless means for online access.

The study breaks down the usage by type, and the increasing popularity of accessing information from cell phones is included. It still does not look to me like a huge number of people spend hours surfing the web on their phone, but an increasing number of pople are using them to find quick facts (plenty of anecdotal evidence for movie times, addresses, and increasingly directions for GPS-enabled phones or smartphones with a GPS app).

Lots of folks think that libraries are dead because books are - or will soon be - online and free (apparently, they haven't read the Google Book Search settlement yet). But so far, the numbers really don't seem to bear out the doom-and-gloom prophecies, especially in public libraries. While book circulation has certainly suffered in most academic libraries, the use of database services has continued to be strong. E-book fans are still in a pretty small minority. Lots of buzz about the Kindle and Sony readers, but they don't seem to have hit the tipping point - yet? Ever?

A frustration from a librarian POV is that information seeking behavior is not well-defined. I'd love to see questions that follow up on what kind of information people are using their wireless devices - especially cell phones - to retrieve.

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