The Mobile World Congress is coming up soon (February 11-14) and it should lead to exciting new advances for libraries, and general mobile users as well. A recent AP story covered the rise of geotagging photos and creating mashups from the geographically referenced photos. While this is wonderful for small projects and for much larger projects (of the scale that will later build into Web 3.0 or the Semantic Web), it’s also great for the middle area of development where academic institutions like libraries are slowly building geographical information into our collections.
It’s great to see a friend’s vacation images tagged with locations, but it’s much more interesting to see all of the historical photos from a library or museum collection all geographically referenced so that everyone can browse spatially through the photos of the past. In order to make this possible, the collectio owner’s either need to build all of that information after the fact–which is a monumental task, especially for underfunded academic institutions–or that information needs to be collected in a systematic manner when it’s created and that’s where the Mobile World Congress can help.
The Mobile World Congress showcases the work of the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) Association, which serves over 82% of the world’s mobile users. The GSM Association is currently focused on enhancing services for existing users and on enabling access for new users by delivering services to new areas. This means that it’s poised to help academic institutions on two fronts, by enabling more services like georeferencing photos for more users and by bring phone service to more areas creating access to extend and use research. With seminars on topics like “Open Connectivity” which seeks universal standards for interoperability, the work at the Mobile World Congress will definitely help some of the current or coming needs for libraries and museums in terms of cataloging, describing, and connecting material to users within the best possible interfaces for usability and extensibility. The GSMA Global Mobile Awards categories show some of the areas being explored, and hopefully soon more will be added that reflect the growing needs and possibilities for connecting with library and museum archives.