Thursday, February 10, 2011


Sources for this post are listed here

More than ever, 2011 will be all about location, location, location.  Geo-location and augmented reality are finally hitting the US.  Using your mobile to find out more about your location and to let your friends know where you are located has been popular in Japan and Europe for a couple of years now.  Geo-location has finally started to take hold in the US.

Products such as Foursquare and Gowalla let your friends know where you are.  Feeling the thrill of being the first to know always fills that basic human need for self-esteem.  You can share your review or opinion about a location and post it on those services to guide others.  The virtual rewards for number of check-ins at a certain place are fun.  Just yesterday a friend of mine ousted another person to gain the title of "Mayor" of our closest bus stop!

Quora, a place where questions and answers on any topic can be shared, is tied to your location when you sign on using your Facebook login.  Quora automatically has suggestions for question categories that might be of interest to you, based on your Facebook apps and location. 

QR codes have also hit the big-time here in the US.  QR codes are small squares that, when read with a mobile phone, tell you more about the location.  QR codes in stores may give you a coupon.  QR codes in libraries might link to the library's mobile site. 

There is a flip, but interesting, side to this.  Whether you are scanning a QR code, answering questions on Quora, logging in using a facebook login, or posting via Foursquare, your data is being gathered.  This year Social Networking Analysis (SNA) is going to make big leaps forward.  Organizations want to know who comes to a geographic area, where else they go and what their interests are.  This information is vital to any organization's marketing attempts.  SNA is going to make it easier than ever for organizations to give the right message to the right people at the right time.  SNA will allow us to find more information about the customers that come to our buildings and to the system as a whole. 

Expect to see a whole slew of SNA tools coming on the market.  Consider using them to analyze your customers' demographics.  You may find that a huge segment of your customers with mobile ride the bus, play Farmville, and spend a lot of time at the movie theater.  Or maybe they tend to go to the zoo, are members of a religious group, and spend a lot of time at a specific sports bar. 

Now imagine what you can do with this information.  Would you dare promote the library at that particular sports bar?  (I, personally, have always wanted to do a barfly booklist.)  Do you and the zoo cross-promote?  (Would it be possible to put a QR code on the lion's cage and have it lead to resources about lions in the library?)  Is there room in your library for a Farmville-fan meetup?  (Farmville collectibles not included)

Lots of opportunity for libraries.  Let's get out there and analyze!