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Above the Fold

A weekly newsletter for the changing world of libraries, archives and museums

August 5, 2010
Vol. 3, No. 26
ISSN: 1943-1457

In this issue:

 

Ecology of the Mind  (External site)

Adbusters   •  June 25, 2010

You say you want a revolution. Kalle Lasn and Micah White enumerate the ways that we're assaulted each day by ambient noise, prurient content, celebrity over-share and other media toxins that are literally making us crazy. They call for an environmental movement of the mind as "the quintessential uprising of the 21st century."

This week we begin with an easy to read and compelling jeremiad. You'll recognize the roster of threats outlined here. I am particularly struck by the delineation of "jumpy brain syndrome." I'm almost sure I have it. And I think the authors, along with Jaron Lanier, he of You Are Not a Gadget, are on to something real when they talk about "running out of culture." ( Michalko)

 

Dream Logic, the Internet and Artificial Thought  (External site)

Edge   •  June 22, 2010

The power of non-thinking. This somewhat lengthy essay by David Gelernter explores the creative potential of twilight consciousness—that half-dream state that we drift along in just before sleep. He points out that current efforts to make computers "think" ignore the problem-solving potential of "non-thinking": "Creativity doesn't operate when your focus is high; only when your thoughts have started to drift is creativity possible. We find creative solutions to a problem when it lingers at the back of our minds, not when it monopolizes attention by standing at the front."

This essay is really about why there's no way to achieve consciousness on a computer. It's a challenging and poetic piece that's worth your time. It connects with the previous piece in asserting that "creativity happens when a new analogy is invented." Is that the "first order expression" which Lanier believes contributes something new to the world? ( Michalko)

 

10 Collaborative Brainstorming Web Apps When You Work As a Group  (External site)

Smashing Apps   •  July 15, 2010

Collaboration toolkit. Here's a quick overview of 10 apps designed for group work, including drawing boards, note pads and lots of mind maps.

Not sure that these tools will result in the kind of creativity described in the earlier articles but it's interesting to note how many of them are founded on the " mind map" conceit. I haven't found that very helpful as an individual, would I feel different if it were a group creation?. ( Michalko)

 

What Is Google Editions?  (External site)

The Atlantic   •  July 20, 2010

The third way. As Amazon and Apple battle out the e-reader war, Google is poised to become the world's biggest distributor of e-books, building on its partnership with the American Booksellers Association. ABA COO Len Vlahos describes the arrangement thus: "For the first time, e-book buyers will be able to take full advantage of their local independents for the same reasons they always have: trust, knowledge and selection . . . Now you can buy e-books from someone you love." If all goes well, could Google's platform-agnostic model suggest a working arrangement for libraries and e-books?

The popular intellectual press has an increasing fascination with the various Google incursions into the book and reading worlds that is drawing even with that of library professionals. This is a good overview of one incursion that isn't subject to any judicial outcomes. ( Michalko)

 

Why the Next Big Pop-Culture Wave After Cupcakes Might Be Libraries  (External site)

NPR Blogs   •  July 20, 2010

 

The Web Means the End of Forgetting  (External site)

The New York Times   •  July 19, 2010

I can't imagine most of you haven't read both of the articles above. If you missed them then this is the time to catch up and ensure that you can talk about these issues as they've been shaped for a "civilian" audience. The NPR entry was forwarded to me again and again mostly by non-librarians and a few times by librarians happy to have someone else provide the apologia. The NYTimes article also made the rounds. Contrast the concerns captured here with our professional concerns about digital preservation. ( Michalko)

 

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Above the Fold is a Web-based newsletter published by OCLC Research. It has been developed to serve a broad international readership from libraries, archives and museums. News items are supplied weekly under contract by Suzanne Douglas, Ibis Communications Inc. Research items are supplied by staff in OCLC Research. Please send comments and questions about this or other issues to rlg@oclc.org.
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