September 23, 2008    |   Vol. 1, No. 4    |   ISSN: 1943-1457
Above the Fold
A weekly newsletter for the changing world of libraries, archives and museums

In this issue:

Three Steps to Innovating in Struggling Industries  (External site)

Harvard Business Publishing  •  September 10, 2008

Innovation on the cheap. Read suggestions from Innosight president Scott Anthony on creative ways the newspaper industry can pursue innovation without spending a bundle.

These days it seems that the community of "Struggling Industries" has become nearly all-inclusive. So let's posit that the suggestions reflected in this article now have wide applicability. But it's always helpful to have some prioritization applied to the long list of possible next steps. In this short list of suggestions, "tag along with concepts pioneered by other companies" strikes me as a liberating and pragmatic idea. ( Washburn)

A Breakaway Opportunity for "Inferior" Products  (External site)

Strategy + Business  •  September 16, 2008

Catering to customers who are feeling the pinch. Consumers are trading down on their buying habits, and libraries could be the beneficiaries as more people choose to borrow rather than buy. How do you adjust to this "new normal" and lock in customer loyalty while you have it?

Economic trends may have consumers "trading down" to less expensive products, which at first glance may indicate some of our users will shun bookstores for libraries, but this can cut both ways. A quick Google search for a book increasingly finds it online in full-text. Will users still beat a path to our door for the dead-tree version? Only time will tell, but we would be wise to not sit on our hands waiting for the news. ( Tennant)

4 Captivating Companies and What They Share  (External site)

The Washington Post  •  September 14, 2008

Starbucks, Apple, Google, Amazon are the SAGA companies. "Together, they have created a new model of business innovation, culture and values," say Ledbetter and Weisberg. But for the most part, these companies didn't invent their game-changing products (remember, there were MP3 players before the iPod)--they perfected them. Take a lesson from the SAGA group and think about ways to "perfect" your product and engage with your customers.

Restless innovators? Engaging end users "on an almost spiritual level?" Okay, I can see that the library-archive-museum sector has a ways to go, but our "brand" does add to the "idea-driven, consumer-focused, value-added economy." Don't focus on innovation-- instead, focus on filling genuine need. ( Proffitt)

Best Buy Taps 'Prediction Market'  (External site)

The Wall Street Journal  •  September 16, 2008

Tapping into employee intelligence. An experiment at Best Buy shows employees' predictions often prove more accurate than the company's official forecasts. Try polling your workers for predictions on "best-loaners" and suggestions on space design improvements. After all, who knows your business better than the people who work there?

I love the idea of bringing the experiences of front-line staff to bear on the prioritization and decision making process in developing new services and improving old ones. Or as Dvorak says, "narrowing the gap between management and workers." ( Proffitt)

U.S. Sees Six 'Disruptive Technologies' by 2025  (External site)

ComputerWorld  •  September 10, 2008

How do libraries fit into the picture in 2025? Check out the intriguing predictions in the Global Trends 2025 report prepared by the National Intelligence Council. What does it mean for libraries when even paper documents are Internet-connected when the average age of patrons is "old?"

The predicted trends include some innovations that could prove to be revolutionary, not just disruptive, such as ultra-capacitors displacing fossil fuels. It's unsettling to consider how mildly different our world was 17 years ago (1991 seems just like yesterday in some ways) and how radically different it may be in 2025 given the NIC projections (a world of people who don't age, famine and robots). ( Washburn)

Can Intelligent Literature Survive in the Digital Age?  (External site)

The Independent  •  September 14, 2008

Calling all readers. There's an odd juxtaposition between predictions that the future of book publishing is "an increasing number of low-brow, plot-driven works" vying for readers' short attention spans, and the crop of snazzy new e-readers in the pipeline. Read what eight experts have to say on the subject.

Will computers replace books? This fine essay broadens age-old issues raised in recent articles by Tony Grafton, Bob Darnton and Nicholas Carr. Have new media wrecked our attention spans? Is a novel compelling because it is in paper, and impossible to read on an e-book? Are there new possibilities for art and literature in electronic forms? Does Google make literature more visible? "People say that the new generation isn't interested in reading books, but they forget that this is the generation that grew up reading Harry Potter." ( Schaffner)

Ten Leading Platforms for Creating Online Communities  (External site)

Enterprise Web 2.0   •  September 4, 2008

Online communities aren't just about social interaction—they're about getting things done. Check out this list of open source, commercial and SaaS online community software platforms.

Librarians are all about serving communities, but we tend to not be so adept at building communities online. Although we shouldn't seek to become the next Facebook, the applications highlighted in this article can be used effectively to collaborate and communicate—whether among ourselves or with the communities we serve. ( Tennant)

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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