Richard Kowalski, Consumer Electronics Association
I began my 2011 at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this year. This was the fifth consecutive show that I have worked at, and again I was amazed by the advances in technology in just the past year. The show itself was a reminder to me that information professionals need to maintain their technology literacy in order to be Future Ready.
Keeping up to date on the latest gadgets can be challenging, but it is well worth it as an information professional. If you know what the newer devices are capable of, they can be more useful to you in both your personal and professional life. Your technology literacy can make you more efficient at what you do, and fostering technology literacy among your coworkers can help them become more productive as well.
As I see it, the devices to watch right now are e-readers, tablet PCs and smartphones. They are allowing us to do things we haven’t been able to do before. E-readers aren’t just for books. They are gaining popularity as an easier-on-the-eyes format on which we can read electronic documents of all sorts. Tablets and smartphones on 3G and 4G networks are allowing for information access in places and at speeds that we haven’t seen before, which is likely to heighten our colleagues’ expectations of information delivery from us and our services.
These new devices are also bringing us into the world of apps. Although some apps simply provide information that could otherwise be found on the Internet, they usually allow for quicker access to that information than navigating through a mobile browser. More importantly, many apps go beyond what a browser could offer by providing ways to manipulate information or by using information from your cell phone such as location data. Read Ryan Jones’ Bridging the Google Gap, with an App for more on the possibilities of apps.
I don’t see any of the new devices outright replacing computers, our traditional portals for Internet content. Instead, they are becoming part of a broad ecosystem of devices that we can use in the enterprise. A key thing to pay attention to will be the compatibility and portability of information among new types of devices. At the least, information professionals should stay aware of the useful software that is readily available on these devices. Some of us may find ourselves developing our own apps and services for these devices when the need arises.
How can you keep updated on tech? Educate yourself by asking people about their new smartphone or tablet PC. Talk to sales reps at electronics stores. At the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), we have a monthly show-and-tell lunch where we talk about our newest gadgets. Sites like CNET, gdgt, and PC Magazine can keep you up to date with reviews of new products. Tech bloggers like David Pogue, Walt Mossberg, and Rob Pegoraro provide useful insight into the ever-changing world of technology. For keeping updated on apps specifically, see Appolicious or browse the app stores themselves: iTunes App Store and Android Market.
Here’s to getting the most out of your gadgets in 2011!
Rick Kowalski is the librarian at the Consumer Electronics Association. He is a member of the Washington D.C. Chapter and Competitive Intelligence Division of SLA.