September 3, 2008    |   Vol. 1, No.1    |   ISSN: 1943-1457
Above the Fold
A weekly newsletter for the changing world of libraries, archives and museums

In this issue:

Should You Invest in the Long Tail?  (External site)

Harvard Business Review  •  July–August 2008

Debunking the myth of the long tail. A study of consumer habits indicates that "it is a myth that obscure books, films and songs are treasured." Sure, library patrons may appreciate the opportunity to get way off the beaten path when browsing your collection, but they're still going to end up at the bestseller shelf. Author Anita Elberse's advice? Don't change your inventory allocation, but limit spending on esoteric items. Instead, focus on your most popular items to acquire and manage your clientele.

There's still a lot of comfort taken in some circles that collecting institutions will inevitably prosper because of the 'long-tail' dynamics that bring an audience to our unique materials. That might be true under some very special circumstances. This article helps sort the wish from the reality. ( Michalko)

'Inventing the Movies': The Epic Battle Between Innovation and the Status Quo in Hollywood  (External site)

Knowledge@Wharton  •  August 20, 2008

What happens when a mature industry resists change? Scott Kirsner, in his book Inventing the Movies, says there are many reasons that successful industries reject innovation – "we've always done it this way," "why fix what ain't broke," and "don't mess with the money flow" are three that immediately come to mind. "But the historical overview of the technological advance of cinema is instructive for anyone interested in...understanding how technological change can get bogged down by the fear of undermining the entrenched business models in any industry."

Our 'industry' is certainly mature and challenged by technological advance. Thinking about innovators and sideline-sitters in our industry when all the money is on the side of the innovators makes change seem even more urgent. ( Michalko)

Diving Deep into Amazon Web Services  (External site)

Infoworld  •  August 13, 2008

Rent yourself a piece of Amazon's infrastructure. Amazon is leveraging its global hardware and software empire to offer an array of services targeted at smaller businesses and organizations, including storage, databases, payment management systems, order tracking systems, virtual storefront systems and more. Customers "rent" the services they need, giving them access to technology resources usually reserved for their mega-competitors.

With all the discussions about putting our services and our data in the right place for maximum efficiency and effectiveness we've had only sporadic discussion of how we ought to take advantage of 'networked' infrastructure. This is an essential element in a reinvention of our systems at the network level. ( Michalko)

How to Change the Way Kids Learn  (External site)

Forbes  •  August 11, 2008

It's time to disrupt the classroom. Harvard business professor Clayton Christensen says the only way to provide education for all students in the U.S. is through computer-based learning and to do that successfully requires that it be implemented disruptively: "That means not attaching it to the existing paradigm and serving existing customers but targeting those not being served or not buying what's served, people we call nonconsumers. That way, all the new approach has to do is be better than a nonexistent alternative." Think about ways you can reach your nonconsumers with innovative services.

Tying future library services to the emerging new modes of scholarship and teaching is critical. There's interesting things beginning to emerge and a good understanding where to experiment can flow from Christensen's notion of creative disruption. Good links accompany this short article. ( Michalko)

File-sharing Networks Return with a Legitimate Way to Share Music – And Make Money  (External site)

Knowledge@Wharton  •  July–August 6, 2008

File-sharing gets a business plan. P2P file-sharing is getting a boost through new business models that could only work in cyberspace. Voluntary contributions, demand-based payments and ad-supported content are just a few of the options.

As we think about the 'collective collection' and ensuring that we can deliver whatever anybody wants, it's interesting to contemplate how this second generation thinking about file-sharing might inform the underpinning new business model. ( Michalko)

OCLC Programs and Research advances exploration, innovation and community building for libraries, archives, and museums.

Above the Fold is a Web-based newsletter published by OCLC Programs and 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. Programs and Research items are supplied by staff in RLG Programs and OCLC Research. Please send comments and questions about this or other issues to rlg@oclc.org.
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