Posts Tagged ‘libraries’

Mobile digital collections

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

I’d like to share some work we have done at NC State to bring digital collections to the mobile environment. Now that libraries have made large parts of their photograph and image collections available in digital form on the desktop, the next step is to deliver them via mobile devices that, through the integration of (relatively) large touch screen, faster processors, high-speed connectivity and location-awareness, are becoming an increasingly attractive platform.

“WolfWalk,” a prototype application for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch, is our attempt to leverage these technologies to provide access to a small subset of our library’s digital collections, in this case historic images of buildings on the NC State campus. Users can access these images, together with short descriptions of the buildings, through an alphabetical list or a map interface. Instead of having to access print photographs in a controlled library environment or viewing digital surrogates on the desktop, “WolfWalk” allows users to view these images “in the wild,” i.e., they can view them while at the same time experiencing the real object. Also, by (eventually) making use of the device’s location awareness, we can add a serendipitous aspect to the process of discovering images. Instead of having to browse through a search interface or a virtual representation of our campus, the campus becomes the interface when the application shows users buildings, related images and descriptions in their vicinity.

I’d be interested in hearing what others think about the impact of the mobile medium not only on digital collections, but also how these new technologies and practices could be leveraged in other contexts related to work in the digital humanities.

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