Flies in the Library Ointment

The trouble with technology … is newer technology.

My reading today led me to a couple items that have, ahem, “implications” for the public library community.  The first (thank you, Boing! Boing!) is an Android based phone that allows the user to copy and clone RFID cards such as those used in mass transit systems.

The app is open-source and I do not know if the hardware is compatible with the RFID cards libraries frequently use as borrower’s cards, but it is worrisome.   Here’s the link:  http://codebutler.com/announcing-farebot-for-android

So, here’s the possible scenario:  somebody walks close by to you, his phone “grabs” your RFID info, and then clones a card which can be used to borrow material in your name … our self-check stations don’t ask for additional information.

Another item that popped up was a new gigabit per second WiFi standard (thank you, Slashdot):   http://tech.slashdot.org/story/11/02/09/0143225/1Gbps-Wi-Fi-Soon-Coming-To-a-Billion-Devices?from=fb

The problem is that most US public libraries are struggling to get as much as 20 megabits coming into their libraries for the entire operation.  I suppose we’ll finally be satisfied if we can get raw fiber in, but the commercial structure that provides communications in this country doesn’t seem interested in offering what we need.

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3 Responses to Flies in the Library Ointment

  1. back40 says:

    And yet there are those lamenting the technological stagnation that underlies the economic stagnation, and may have a causal relationship.

    I see it as being like encryption: you can stay ahead of the code breakers by using longer and longer prime keys, but you can’t ever rest, and anything old is easy cracking.

    As to bandwidth, there is never enough since networks are inherently bursty in a fractal pattern at every dimension. Congestion is, and will be.

  2. librarybob1 says:

    I agree … once libraries began using RFID this sort of thing was bound to happen. I’d note that this was (and is!) a minority opinion. We don’t use it where I work and (perhaps luckily) don’t have the room to install the sorter for returning material that are the compelling “business argument” versus labor costs.

    True also with congestion. But it would be *nice* if we had a gigabit pipe instead of the 16 megabits we have now (and that is a recent upgrade). Barring a government mandate to telecoms we’ll not be getting anything faster any time soon. The thing is, people who can’t afford high-speed at home come the the public library thinking that they’ll find it there.

  3. back40 says:

    In general, I’m not very supportive of freebies: user should pay, it concentrates the mind. But, if there is any place that free broadband makes sense it is in libraries.

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