Irene E. McDermott
INTERNET EXPRESS Reference Librarian/System Manager
San Marino Public Library
New Technologies That Consolidate
the Functions of the Old
I’ve had the most startling experience of the “beginner mind.”
At the reference desk, I try to be patient as my patrons struggle
to understand what the “C” drive is and why that is different
from Yahoo! mail. I’ve been using computers so long that it is
difficult for me to imagine why anyone would have a problem
generating the mental map that defines where data resides.
Then I bought an “app” phone.
S uddenly, I was faced with an entirely new universe of data
and programs. Apps? What’s wrong with the web? Worse,
this new interface is on my phone, which I rely on for my con-
The Droid is to the iPhone what the PC is to a Mac: It still
gets the job done, but, at 6 ounces and 4", it lacks the delicate
elegance of the Apple product. Still, it’s an amazingly power-
nection to the world. I can’t even dial a number without first ful chunk of machine, performing many of the functions of a
pushing the power key, swiping the “lock” icon, choosing the desktop PC along with some tasks that my deskbound box
phone app, pressing the keyboard icon, then touching the simply could never do.
numbers on the screen (which my middle-aged eyes can People with app phones already know this, but it was
barely see and which, apparently, my fingers are too big and news to me. I can download software “apps” that allow the
clumsy to tap precisely). camera in my phone to act as a barcode scanner which
I am old. then searches the web to find the best price for a scanned
Thank goodness for my teenage son. If it weren’t for my item. OCLC now offers an app that uses the camera eye to
brilliant boy, now age 14, I would probably follow my conser- “see” ISBN numbers on books and then search for them in
vative instincts and continue to use old electronic devices nearby libraries.
until they ceased to function. Pete helped me get up and run- The GPS on the Droid lets me (and you, if I enable it) know
ning on my new smartphone, a Motorola Droid from Verizon. where I am. That function hooks into an app that makes my
8 SEARCHER The Magazine for Database Professionals
Droid a pedometer. And, with the purchase of a magnetized .com/home.html]. The Society uses modern technology to
mount, my Droid can become a navigational device in my bring history to life. Indeed, Monroney conducts educa-
car [http://www.motorola.com/Consumers/US-EN/Con tional tours from an electric vehicle also dubbed the “His-
sumer-Product-and-Services/Mobile+Phone+Accessories/ tory Coach.”
Chargers-and-Adapters/DROID-Phone-Holder-US-EN]. Is Monroney troubled by a land line? “I switched to the cell
Another accessory turns it into a bedside alarm clock [http:// phone 5 years ago, when I moved into my condo,” he reports.
www.motorola.com/Consumers/US-EN/Consumer-Prod “I never had a lan