In this issue:
O'Reilly Radar • September 10, 2010
APIs for books. E-books are in the midst of a transition phase that ultimately will lead to text that is fully connected to the Net. Change is coming—are publishers ready for the transformation? Could they re-emerge as API providers?
Are publishers ready? Nope. Neither are libraries, who are complicit in delaying a transition that will upend traditional operations. That's unfortunate since, as some of the comments on the O'Reilly post suggest, libraries could play a role in designing the future environment in which they will operate. Or not. The innovative initiatives that are invoked as part of the solution here—linked data, the OpenLibrary experiment, APIs that can truly mobilize bibliographic data and content—are still peripheral to the library organization as a whole. Far from blurring the line between Book and Internet, most libraries appear to be fortifying positions alongside it. Meanwhile, members of the OCLC Developers Network (meeting and mashing in Boston this week) are looking for ways to cross it. ( Malpas)
Slate • September 9, 2010
Musings. Slate editor-at-large Jack Shafer discusses his life-long love affair with books and their decline from status symbols to mere commodities. And although their transformation to digital format is just another point on the downward trend, Shafer punctuates the point by asking, would you really throw a book party for a friend who's just published an e-book?
Jack Shafer's essay "The Fallen Status of Books" considers some of the iconic attributes and traditions of print books that are disappearing in the transition to e-books and e-readers. Book signings and free-standing newspaper book review sections are print-based customs that face an uncertain future in an e-centric world. Our perception of the value of books has changed: for example, the profusion of online book sellers that make finding and replacing copies of books cheaper and easier has perhaps increased our willingness to dispose of books which in earlier times we would have kept. Mr. Shafer's essay joins a long line of ruminations on the perceived passage of the book, and reminds us of some of the things we might lose in the transition from print to electronic. As with everything else, there are tradeoffs: the ease and convenience of e-books and e-readers come at a price. ( Lavoie)
The Future of the Internet • September 7, 2010
Second chances. As the power of the Internet to tag and follow us through life expands, should we have the opportunity to declare "reputation bankruptcy" and start over? There are many reasons to support this futuristic scenario—check out some of the suppositions behind the suggestion.
Imagine a world in which, anxious about the digital footprints you have left behind as you matured too slowly, you can reset your reputation stock to zero and begin again. This is a space where data protection demands to be asserted, and being able to see, challenge and delete certain types of information held about oneself by third parties does seem sensible. The idea that people who don't know me can press a button and call up a profile of me assembled from a range of digital haunts is really quite frightening. Of course, some of the evidence will always be unerasable—just ask Christine O'Donnell. ( MacColl)
Elsua.net • September 8, 2010
Debunking the generation gap. Blogger Luis Suarez makes some common-sense observations about the way people from all generations work together and suggests the recent focus on Millennials and Digital Natives is overhyped. Smart companies should instead be looking at ways to leverage the unique strengths that each worker brings to the mix. "We have got better things to do, and to focus on, to be honest, than to split the single, most powerful competitive advantage you have got nowadays as a business: your talented knowledge workforce."
I agree with Luis Suarez that we need to move beyond the generational divide and instead identify the strengths that each individual brings to the business environment. We then need to nurture these strengths to create an open and collegial work environment. However, there are common characteristics of individuals within specific age groups that have been identified in our research, which also must be considered. For example, E-mail is not the preferred form of communication for Millennials, which indicates we must provide and participate in multiple modes of communication within our organizations to engage these individuals. In addition, we should actively support and promote mentoring opportunities that will not only benefit the mentor and the protégé, but also our organizations. ( Connaway)
UX Magazine • September 6, 2010
Stories matter. Effective communication is based on telling a story to which readers can relate. We tell stories all day long—in meetings, to bolster our position; in brainstorming sessions, to spark discussion; in marketing pieces, to connect with our audience. This article covers all the likely scenarios and offers tips on more effective storytelling.
The idea is that storytelling involves a temporary suspension of disbelief by the listener, allowing the listener to hear things that they would normally immediately discount. A sympathetic character in the story allows the listener to become emotionally involved in the characters problem. (I use that trick all the time! When you hit a roadblock with a support person, ask them what they'd do if they were you. It's amazing what comes out of them when they put themselves in your place!) The authors talk about telling different kinds of stories to accomplish different goals. It's an interesting idea and I'll have to see how I can incorporate it into my life. ( LeVan)