I ran across several apparently unrelated things recently:

  • The Wall St Journal reports that Ray Charles' Genius loves company was strongly assisted to a No 2 chart spot by sales in Starbuck's (September 9, 2004; Page B3). In fact Starbuck's accounted for 30% of its sales. The story quoted a music executive as saying that this reached an older audience who felt disenfranchised by existing music channels.

  • The BBC reports Ericsson research which suggests that phone companies should not be pushing technology at their customers. "Customers are far more interested in how handsets fit in with their lifestyle" than they are in technology. What is happening is that they are moving more of their behavior onto the mobile phone. The report gives the example of teenagers keeping a diary, integrating pictures taken with the phone.

  • I recently acquired a Blackberry, which pushes email to me wherever I go. It has changed the way I do email. I might do short emails on the spot, but prefer to do longer emails on a full-sized keyboard. It is also possible to phone in response to an email.

  • A NYT story talks about "a library and cinema in your pocket". It describes moves to create soap operas and dramas for delivery on cell-phones.
Increasingly, we are seeing services being disembedded from traditional settings and reembedded at the point of need. Sure, several of these are about cellphones as the site of intersection, but we are seeing more services surfaced where they intersect with behaviors and lifestyle in natural ways. Alongside this, we see that different grades of experience are offered in different intersections. A very focused music selection in Starbuck's; a broad selection in a music chain; a niche selection in the local record store; a track-based selection at an online store, and so on.

For libraries, this is an important trend, of which more anon. The library as place, the library portal, the library in the learning management system, the library in Google Scholar or Google Print, the library in the user toolbar: users will intersect with the library in many ways with different grades of experience in each.

Comments: 1

Dec 20, 2004
Brian Lavoie

In some ways, the idea of "disembedding" content and services from traditional contexts parallels the vision of the EU's "Ambient Intelligence" initiative: "In all our living, working, leisure, and other spaces information technologies, computers, and other devices fade into the background because we are surrounded by intelligent environments with intuitive interfaces embedded in all kinds of objects."