December 17, 2008    |   Vol. 1, No. 16    |   ISSN: 1943-1457
Above the Fold
A weekly newsletter for the changing world of libraries, archives and museums

In this issue:

Better Than Free  (External site)

Change This   •  No. 53.01

“What can’t be copied?” Wired Senior Maverick Kevin Kelly says that because the Internet is essentially a copy machine, it is undermining the foundation of our wealth, which is based on the reduplication of information, ideas and media. “When copies are super-abundant, they lose value.” So what can you sell that retains its value? Kelly proposes eight “generatives” (such as trust) that make copies more valuable.

Kelly argues that integrity is valuable in the network economy. “How does one make money selling free copies?” At the very moment that the Google Book agreement turns copies of library books into commodities, here’s another marketing argument that the digital economy runs on a river of free copies. Might libraries and archives be less valued as honest providers of authentic copies because we don’t charge (enough) for them? ( Schaffner)

10 Principles of the New Business Intelligence  (External site)

Harvard Business Publishing   •  December 1, 2008

Putting more smarts into “business intelligence.” Management guru Tom Davenport says we’ve lost sight of the goal of business intelligence, which is to help bolster the decision-making process. He offers 10 suggestions on ways that business intelligence could evolve to better serve that goal.

“Business intelligence” is a term that causes many librarians to flinch, but it’s been around since the 1950s. Prior to computer systems, BI was derived by humans painstakingly compiling information. Now, organizations can be swimming in information about operations, but few of us leverage that information intelligently. Decisions about current and future operations should be made against a backdrop of evidence. Often, the tail wags the dog – we look at the data and decide what it means. Instead, we should think about what trajectory should be based on what facts – then look at the evidence and execute the decision. ( Proffitt)

How to Win by Changing the Game  (External site)

Strategy+Business (free reg. req’d)   •  Winter 2008

It’s all about the customer. When confectioner Mars bought Wrigley gum, the goal was not to be the biggest, it was to be the best. When times are uncertain, go back to the basics and think about how you can best serve your customers and then what resources you need to build or acquire to do that. Now that’s a winning strategy.

Strip away the commercial slant and substitute “users” for customers and we have a strategy that many of in the library/archive/museum community are already trying to pursue. The “capabilities-driven strategy” looks outward to identify what we must do to reach the [customers/users] we fundamentally want to attract. Stipulate what tools or processes will enable superior performance; deploy effectively the capabilities you already have; fill in the gaps to complement existing capabilities; streamline (don’t do) what doesn’t foster development of highest-priority capabilities; disproportionately invest in the few capabilities that make a difference. Yes, “easy to write about but surprising difficult to execute.” ( Smith-Yoshimura)

For Innovators, There is Brainpower in Numbers  (External site)

New York Times   •  December 7, 2008

Innovation as a team sport. Some business experts say forget about brainstorming—and get on board with “systematic inventive thinking.” Research shows that what we experience as breakthrough thinking is often an evolutionary peer review process. How can you promote systematic inventive thinking in your workplace?

As a member of a team of bright people, I can attest to the benefits of focusing collective brainpower on problems. The trick is to avoid groupthink, which the strategy named in this piece attempts to do. ( Tennant)

Back Button to the Future  (External site)

Technology Review   •  December 5, 2008

The Power of Then. A new tool called Zoetrope makes it easier to track how information such as news stories or product pricing changes over time by allowing users to use a scroll bar to “wind a Web page back” a few hours or a few days, weeks or months to see a series of snapshots of how that page has evolved over time. Think how this could be used to help your patrons track markets, news headlines, gas prices and more.

For historians, especially, this Web based "re-wind button" opens up tantalizing new research opportunities based on contemporary sources. By making data-rich content streams from multiple sources available for cross-correlation and analysis, the Zoetrope developers have made the Web feel even more like bona fide research environment. Sadly, the video demo doesn't say much about how the contextualized snapshots and data extractions can be cited and shared - a critical requirement if this tool is intended to support serious scholarship. ( Malpas)

The Above the Fold commentators wish all Above the Fold subscribers peaceful and restful holidays.

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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