Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Thing 7: Communication tools

email: Although this has been around for a very long time, we still see many many customers who do not have email accounts and who say they don't want them. Since they are in applying for jobs online, buying cars, buying airplane tickets, paying their bills, updating their health care information, they just plain have to have one. It can be very tricky convincing them of this, and then helping them as quickly as possible (their Internet session with us is on a rapidly ticking timer). I have tipsheets for signing up for Hotmail and Yahoo that take you step by step, but if you're working with someone who is not saavy with a mouse, and who doesn't understand how to move between the spaces in a form (even with you right there helping), and who, through it all, is muttering resentfully that they don't want this email account and they're not going to use it...yikes yikes. No, explaining that they do need to use the account so they can check to see if they got a response to their email... *sigh*

Instant messaging: We have just started using Meebo for IM reference. It is such a simple user friendly program. I have answered one question so far from the vaunted "anonymous user". I think this has so much potential for the sort of back and forth conversation you really need to have in a reference interview. Very cool.

Web conferencing: I attended a few web conferences and they're ok. I understand it is a way to give a presentation live to people over a wide geographic area, but... in my experience the sound quality makes it difficult to hear everything said, and usually the room is darkened, lulling the unwary into a sleepy state through no fault of their own. I'm quite sure.

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