Is Understanding Required?

“Why would anyone do that?”
“How does anyone have the time?”

The above are questions I hear regularly when talking with librarians about ways that technology is being used by teens, and by adults too. Most recently these are questions I hear when talking about check-in services. For some librarians the idea of checking-in to a location with FourSquare, Gowalla, or Scvngr, or using a site like GetGlue to “check-in” to let others know about current reading or viewing, seems totally off-the-wall.

As I think more and more about the questions I regularly hear, and how some librarians think about the way teens use technology, I realize again how important it is to separate one’s own experience and way of doing things from the development of library services teens need. Continue reading

The Art of Checking-In With Entertainment-Based Apps

Over the past couple of years location-based applications have become more and more popular with those using mobile devices. The idea of these apps is that from a mobile device a user can check-in and tell others where he or she is – a movie theatre, a store, a restaurant, a library, and so on. The people behind the location-based services make the check-in worth the user’s time because of the game-like features and virtual and non-virtual incentives integrated into the apps. For example, with brightkite the person with the most check-ins at a particular location gets to be mayor of that location. Establishments that know how brightkite works can offer rewards to mayors. For example, a library might give the brightkite mayor of the institution a discount on copying costs. With FourSquare user rewards come in the form of badges. For example, a FourSquare user can check into a specific Starbucks a certain number of times and earn the barista badge. Mayorships and badges appear in the user’s profile on the service. That means others can learn about the rewards earned. Rewards can also be announced via Twitter and other social networks. As I mentioned in a 2008 blog post, the possibilities for location-based applications in library services to teens are many.

Now there’s a new way to check-in, and that’s application and web-based tools that give users the chance to check-in when participating in an entertainment related activity – reading a book, watching a TV show, viewing a movie, and so on.
Continue reading