30 September 2011

the trinity that is . . . amazon kindle fire-ryness

dear readers!!! i am BACK! back from the land of solitary seriousness and here to discuss the major announcement (before the major announcement about the iphone 5), that is.

the announcement from amazon!!! i know you've heard. don't tell me you haven't heard.

jeff bezos and the amazon team have knocked...it...out...the...box. not only did they create new kindle e-readers (keyboardless, also known as TOUCH) but they created a mobile browser (amazon silk) AND a new tablet called the kindle fire!!

i'm sorry, i should have warned you to take a seat before all of this. but this is even bigger than when i said library lending with overdrive and kindle was big. because this is amazon telling you that they are all you need if you wanna read on a mobile device. of course, a mobile device that doesn't have a camera or a microphone or is an actual phone. but other than that, amazon is the one-stop-shop you need.

the graphic above (yes, i created that one myself) illustrates what i call the trinity that is amazon fire. amazon's entry into the tablet market is a slight departure in terms of power and capability so in that sense it is NOT (i repeat, NOT) an iPad killer. but their foray into the touch e-reader market could be a barnes & noble nook killer and here's why:

FIRST - price. the original nook (which is touch) is currently priced at $139. the new kindle touch wifi is $99. yes, NINETY-NINE dollars. but wait, the kindle touch 3G (always on, download from anywhere) is $149. so, for only $10 more, i get free 3G. mr riggio?? hear that whooshing sound? that's profits being sucked away by amazon. i won't even mention the non-touch kindle wifi that's jut $79. oops, i mentioned it.

2ND - selection. not only do amazon kindles have access to the largest selection of books (i'm talking "to purchase") in the world (i daresay) but coupled with their partnership with overdrive to enable library borrowing, the selection and convenience are hard to beat.

but now for the big show. drumroll, please...

the amazon kindle fire, which is amazon's entry into the tablet market. the kindle fire is a 7" tablet, it's wi-fi and it's color which is comparable to barnes & noble's nook color. that's pretty much where the similarities end. because what sets the kindle fire apart from everyone else are the 2nd and 3rd pieces of the trinity - silk and cloud, or as i like to say, the silky cloud.

amazon has created a dedicated browser for the kindle fire, called amazon silk (which, of course, is now rumored to soon be available for PC and Android). this browser is optimized to work with the other two pieces of the trinity, the fire and the cloud. so don't let the fact that it only has 8GB of internal memory (enough for 80 apps, plus either 10 movies or 800 songs or 6,000 books) bother you because the third piece of the trinity, the cloud, comes into play right here.

you won't need much internal storage because you will be using the cloud (cue angelic harp ahhh sounds). the amazon cloud to be exact. this is where you will be able to store hundreds and thousands of things. but, in addition, the cloud is a machine that is processing your kindle fire actions so that the kindle fire doesn't have to. hence, it doesn't need major processors or internal storage. it's all happening in the cloud, freeing up the kindle fire to do what it does for you. so your browsing and e-reading are as fast and seamless as possible. (i sound like an ad for kindle fire. hmmm....jeff bezos are you listening. i could use one of those fires...)

how is amazon using this cloud technology to boost its browser? heck if i know, but the folks over at tom's hardware website do a pretty good job of explaining it.

so, in essence, what jeff bezos has done is change the landscape of consumer expectation for tablets. sy syms used to say, "an educated consumer is our best customer." i'm not sure that amazon's competitors will agree. once they figure out that my side of things will be smoother and faster, that will be the new level of service expected from every piece of computer hardware.

however, cnet news answers a question comparing the kindle fire to an apple iPod Touch. interesting. she gives a great breakdown on some of the downsides of the kindle fire.

fiery silken clouds. the future of reading? i have no idea...google it!

happy reading . . . no matter the format . . . even on fiery silken clouds.

28 September 2011

a rare serious post...

i'm sure, dearest of dedicated readers, that you are wondering, what, pray tell, could be so serious as to require a serious blog post on this most entertaining of blogs. well, a story that comes out of our esteemed colleague of a state on the west coast, california. the city, san diego.

see the student over there? he is sleeping peacefully amongst the stacks of the copley library at the university of san diego. but, little does he know of what goes on behind the doors of the hallowed halls within.

the story: 8 library employees were laid off at the university of san diego. these layoffs were made to "bring the library into the 21st century." [make sure you read the comments at the end of the article.]

the journal 'inside higher education,' gives excellent coverage, i think, of both sides of the argument here. what skills are relevant and necessary for library faculty and staff to have (or procure) in support of the academic curriculum and mission of their respective universities and colleges?

the library loon places some responsibility (blame) on individual staff and faculty who either don't keep up with current trends, don't attend professional development courses or use conferences as "kaffeeklatches."

but, imho, the most interesting point of the whole debate is the fact that the university of san diego is a roman catholic institution. according to some faculty there, layoffs do not support one of the core values in the university’s mission statement which is to uphold the “Catholic moral and social tradition by its commitment to serve with compassion, to foster peace, and to work for justice.” in essence, it's morally wrong to fire people.

some of the people laid off had been with the university for many years, a couple were close to retirement age.

the administration's position (including the university librarian) maintains the reorganization of the university’s Copley Library was necessary to keep the library on track with the ongoing progression of technology. critics argue that these individuals could be trained (or re-trained) in essential skills.

over at blog u, a part of 'inside higher education' website, the discussion centers on library jobs, library/staff distinctions, and 'necessary' reorganizations and unnecessary reorganizations.

so, what of it? who knew? when did this debate begin? have i been blind to the plight of my brethren and brethrenesses (yes, i made it up - i can't be serious all the time).

i daresay...no. for i am one of those staff people. ever since entering academia four years ago, i have been constantly questioning the library as place and my place in the library. as a circulation supervisor, i see circulation numbers and gate count numbers and dwindling physical monograph collections and think...

is what i do important (or even necessary) anymore? and who will tell me? the patron? administration? steve jobs? amazon?

in all the talk of library 2.0 and the library as place, did we forget about the people? do we leave our humanity behind when we embrace technology? will we value only those humans who can harness the future that is electronic? or out in the cloud?

barbara fisher from gustavus adolphus college in minnesooooota wraps it up pretty succinctly in her column on library journal's website. the title: what do we want? change! when do we want it? yesterday!

happy reading . . . no matter the format . . . for now!

thumbs up! the illumination by kevin brockmeier. stories of what happens when you can see people's pain, literally.

ps - yes i will be discussing the big news that is the amazon kindle fire, new touch kindles, amazon silk mobile browser and the cloud. here's a bit from information week. the power that is . . . amazon! stay tuned...

22 September 2011

naked librarians!!! how will we know...

...IF, dear readers, the library truly becomes naked, meaning without books.

[note: i grew up in new york and i don't ever recall visiting the particular library referenced in the picture. i'm just sayin']

Overdrive announced that it has 11,000 libraries loaning e-books in amazon kindle format.

now, if you have been a constant, considerate reader of this blog, you know we have covered the many ways in which amazon has made their kindle format accessible to the masses. they have kindle reading apps available for smartphones, pcs, and their own specific amazon kindle e-reading device. they even created their own app to skirt around apple's new rule barring companies from allowing purchases within their own apps. (that's another story for another day and, probably, another person's blogger).

yesterday's announcement regarding overdrive, public libraries and amazon is big, Big, BIG!! isn't it? i'll get to that in a moment.

voila! the moment is here. imho, the biggest reason this is a BIG announcement is the accessibility factor coupled with the NAME recognition. public libraries, especially, have already moved toward e-book collections and many (my local greenville county library) included, allow for downloading of e-books and audiobooks to personal computers and mobile devices (iphones, ipods, mp3 players, etc). i have a kindle and now i can read semi-new books for free? and i don't have to leave my chair? i don't have to worry about gas, traffic, remembering my library card, overdue fines (!!). wow!

wow for the patron, woe for the library. but the library started it. they offered, i accepted.

why would a library do that? don't they want to see me? don't they want me to browse? i mean in the library. sure, i can browse online, but the e-collection is not nearly as vast as the monograph collection. and that doesn't even include CDs and DVDs and the juvenile collection. so what gives?

beats me. i guess it's a brave, new world after all. all i know is that i like it. but it still worries me. i feel a little bit of guilt. like i'm contributing to the downfall of the library. the same way i ran the record store out of business. and borders bookstore. and those nice people that used to make floppy disks. and the fairies who made princess phones. *sigh*

is the time of the library passing by? do people really think libraries are just book warehouses for people to borrow books because they're too cheap to buy them?

or is this the natural progression and evolution of "the library?" can a library be virtual and still be a library?

happy reading . . . no matter the format!

thumbs up: the night circus by erin morgenstern (LOVED IT!)
thumbs down: the elegance of the hedgehog by muriel barbery (i couldn't get into it)