The Scholarly Kitchen • 16 September 2013
Split personality. Management consultant Joseph Esposito captures the dilemma of any organization attempting the tricky balancing act of funding a new in-house venture while taking care of the core business. This double duty often comes about as mature industry CEOs seek to avert disruption by launching their own cannibalizing startups. Read on for Esposito's suggestions on ways to mitigate the pain of managing conflicting goals.
Company #1 versus Company #2 says it all. Those of us associated with libraries are either living it or delusional. Esposito's belief that Company #2—the one that is struggling to create the new while #1 is living out its last days in a mature industry—can't succeed if it's run by anyone having anything to do with Company #1 is consistently ignored. What's more changing the culture of #1 is a fool's errand according to him. Now consider all the effort that libraries are putting into transmitting their "culture and values" to their newest staff brought in to manage their digital services. (Michalko)
Digital Tonto • 15 September 2013
Get moving. Blogger Greg Satell suggests a new playbook for competing in the digital economy, where the advantages of agility far outweigh those of size: "Competing to win in the new economy is more of a journey than a construction project." Read on for more on why today's successful strategizing more closely resembles World of Warcraft than Monopoly.
Satell's thesis is correctly rooted in Coase's transaction costs and Porter's value chain optimization. My colleagues, Lorcan Dempsey and Brian Lavoie, have applied these insights to libraries in a widely-circulated but unpublished paper. A Reader's Digest-like condensation of that paper appeared in issue 17 of OCLC's NextSpace magazine titled "Rethinking the Boundaries of the Academic Library." That or this presentation [pptx] will have to do for now. (Michalko)
PandoDaily • 13 September 2013
What goes up . . . MOOCs were overhyped last year, and now those starry-eyed projections are looking dated. As one Slate writer put it, "Anti-MOOC really is the new black." But University of Sydney Acting Dean Jason Tapson says today's disenchantment is just part of the Trough of Disillusionment, or Phase 3 of the trade-marked Gartner Hype Cycle. Tapson takes on the most common objections voiced against MOOCs and suggests, "it's academic to question whether or not they will disrupt the expensive and inconvenient traditional model. The interesting questions are: when, and how much?"
Tapson vocalizes what we've all been thinking in this nicely-argued essay while both managing to sneer at and laud the "Cycle." He forecasts a likely and credible future path for MOOCs. And he calls out for particular jeopardy the middle-tier institutions that are likely to be able to muddle along for the next ten years or so while their managers wait to arrive at retirement. This latter is known as the "horizon problem." Sidelong out-loud question: Is Bill Gates really the origin of the quote about over-estimating the near term and under-estimating the long-term impacts of technology? I thought it was Amara's Law. (Michalko)
Der Spiegel • 13 September 2013
Crosstalk. Check out the latest advances in machine translation—it's getting better, thanks to efforts at Google Translate, which uses correlations between existing texts to translate back and forth between 71 languages. Grammatical structure remains a hurtle, so the English-Spanish process works much better than English-German, for instance, but researchers are confident that will improve as the pool of translated text expands.
Love Google Translate. It's good enough now to have saved me in a variety of travel situations like lost in the cavernous Jetson-like space of the main Kyoto Station. Chomsky is probably chuffed but probabilities rather than rules will likely give us good enough universal translation capabilities. Probabilities that are calculated from Google's vast data aggregations. This is similar to the way they cracked voice recognition with the phoneme aggregation produced via the lamented (by me) GOOG 411 service. (Michalko)
The American Scholar • Autumn 2013
Word play. Check out author Ralph Keyes' whimsical romp through the history of English-language word coinage, from Thomas Jefferson's "belittle" to Peter Merholz's "blog" (which he felt was apt, because the word was "roughly the onomatopoeic of vomiting"). Keyes' keen insight into human nature explains, "One reason so many fanciful word creations catch on is that their creators think the terms are so absurd that no one will adopt them, little realizing that this is just the type of neologism we covet." Gerrymandering and software are just two examples of "sticky" coinage—read on for more.
Okay, this is just really fun. Who hasn't wanted to be the originator of a word or phrase that gets traction and becomes part of the lexicon? Almost all of the people I hang out with shoot for this constantly. Amazingly Lorcan scored in our domain with one that burned and still flickers—"Amazoogle" [ppt]—and with two that are likely to persist—"amplified conference" and "collective collection." (Michalko)
Los Angeles Times • 19 September 2013
Setting culture free. Check out one person's endeavor to share classical music with the masses. Although composer Aaron Dunn raised more than enough money to record all of Chopin's works and make them available on his open culture website, most of his donors were not avowed classical music fans—instead they responded to his campaign slogan, "Set music free." Is crowdfunding an overlooked resource for other culture-sharing ventures?
Maybe it is. The remarkable dynamic that most contributors give to support the principle not the product cannot be ignored. Check out the site Musopen. (Michalko)
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