October 23, 2008    |   Vol. 1, No. 8    |   ISSN: 1943-1457
Above the Fold
A weekly newsletter for the changing world of libraries, archives and museums

In this issue:

In Defense of Piracy  (External site)

The Wall Street Journal  •  October 11, 2008

Decriminalize Generation X. Lawrence Lessig decries the move toward invoking copyright laws to stop amateurs who "remix" media into their own creations. "The return of this 'remix' culture could drive extraordinary economic growth, if encouraged, and properly balanced...And it could inspire a deeper, much more meaningful practice of learning for a generation that has no time to read a book, but spends scores of hours each week listening, or watching or creating, 'media.'"

Lessig proposes five changes in current legislation that will balance the interests of amateur creators and the authors, artists (and agents) who rely on royalties to sustain their work. Research institutions—and the libraries, archives and museums that support them—have an opportunity to foster this 'culture of remix' as an authentic, value-generating expression of scholarly work. As historian Adrian Johns has shown (in The Nature of the Book for example), intellectual piracy played a vital role in creating the culture of print publication that has sustained the modern academic enterprise; it's time for a new generation of swashbuckling adventurers to redefine how that scholarship is created and communicated. ( Malpas)

Disrupted by a Shoe Box  (External site)

Forbes.com  •  October 7, 2008

What's in your shoe box? A bank in Amsterdam has taken the stress out of personal finance management by offering to organize, process and track people's financial affairs using the receipts, bills and records they toss into a shoe box each month. This is a great example of developing a service that addresses the way many people collect and hoard information--via scraps of paper shoved in a drawer. We all know people like that—how would you help them with their shoe box?

I can see similar services for libraries, perhaps even by other libraries. Give over a small container (okay, maybe it's bigger than a bread box) of your hardest-to-catalog materials and have them expertly attended to. What do we have squirreled away that we could give over with relief? ( Proffitt)

"Tribes": Ten Questions for Seth Godin  (External site)

Gapingvoid  •  October 8, 2008

Tribes are the engines of growth. Seth Godin's bestseller Purple Cow made the point that everyone in an organization is a marketer. In this latest work, he examines the tendency of people to organize themselves into tribes and the importance of using the power of tribes to make connections. Who are your tribes and how can you leverage them to promote your services?

I'm a bit skeptical of all the "everyone is a leader" talk here. But the idea that "so much of being a leader is providing people with a good narrative to explain their actions" is a powerful one that rings true—true when I explain to my kids why they really do need to do the right thing even when no one is looking, true when the library collections officer works to convince the faculty member that offsite does not mean out of reach, and true when OCLC Programs and Research presents its updated work agenda to partner institutions. Leading is, at least in part, good story-telling. ( Massie)

Making Search Social  (External site)

Technology Review  •  October 10, 2008

Search 2.0. The new search engine, Yotify, integrates with social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn to run repetitive searches based on your criteria—like finding the right apartment in the right location at the right price. Co-founder Ron Bouganim says his technology offers a richer experience than other search engines by enlisting the help of friends and family.

Combining customization for product alerts with social networking sounds promising. It reflects one of Ranganathan's laws, to "save the time of the user." But what if you're not sure yet of your requirements—and the pool of resources offered isn't sufficient for your needs? Getting users to switch from Google will be an uphill battle for Yotify, too. Will the social networking aspect be enough for it to succeed? ( Smith-Yoshimura)

Analog's Twilight: Slowly, Digital Trumps Physical  (External site)

Associated Press/San Francisco Chronicle  •  Octobber 13, 2008

Thanks for the (digital) memories. Suddenly, digitization isn't just for historical archives any more. A new crop of digitizing services is converting family collections of photos, vinyl LPs, letters and other analog memorabilia into digital format.

As analog-to-digital conversion services move to the consumer marketplace, I hope to see a raft of digital preservation services (or, at least very good backup services coupled with digital reformatting services) follow. While it's urgent that a family's history be moved from frail and decaying audio and video carriers, there will soon be a likewise pressing need to move from MPEG and WMA stored on DVD to the NG. When the message about the frailty of digital media hits the general market it may translate into recognition that digital is "too big to fail." ( Proffitt)

J-Schools Use Geo-tagging, Wikis, iPhones to Teach  (External site)

PBS Mediashift  •  October 14, 2008

This is not your father's j-school. Journalism professors are beginning to embrace the reporting tools that students carry around with them already, such as cell phone cameras. And increasingly, they're using collaborative platforms for group projects and editing, and geo-tagging as a foundation for reporting. What does all this mean for the future of journalism?

The point of view expressed in this article might strike some as the view of the present from a couple of years ago, rather than a perspective on the future from today: "ingenious uses of gadgets" include a journalism student using a mobile phone to record audio. Seamlessness and convergence of technologies do not necessarily redefine the practice of journalism, though they can open doors (a Flip camera lets a journalist resemble a tourist) and activate connections (geo-tagging lets a map act as an index). ( Washburn)

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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