OCLC Programs and Research
May 29, 2009    |   Vol. 2, No. 18    |   ISSN: 1943-1457
Above the Fold
A weekly newsletter for the changing world of libraries, archives and museums

In this issue:

Significant (External site)

Scribd   •  May 12, 2009

The law of diminishing attention. Social networks and new technologies such as Twitter give us more opportunity than ever to tweet our own horn but blogger Brian Solis says it's time to stop talking about ourselves and start paying attention to our Social Capital. This is a well-thought-out essay on the dangers of digital narcissism.

If you can slide across the new-age veneer that covers this essay I think you'll find the hypothesis engaging. Where's the conversation? At best it's disjointed. Where are the listeners for quality utterances? "Blindly launching information across 'attention' bows." Why aren't we crafting our various online personas as carefully as we do in real life? I really like his idea that we ought to have a 'return on participation' metric. We would if more people asked themselves what somebody might gain from following or friending them. ( Michalko)

New Bloomsbury Science Series to be Available Free Online (External site)

The Guardian   •  May 12, 2009

Bloomsbury goes hybrid. Bloomsbury Academic is demonstrating its commitment to broadening access to information in this latest venture, which will make available free online for non-commercial use a number of titles covering science, ethics and innovation. The plan calls for generating revenues from on-demand and short-run printing of these Creative Commons-licensed works, banking on some people paying for hard copy of something that's free in digital format.

Most interesting to me is that Bloomsbury has defined the market they want to reach as "the proverbial Guardian reader" imagining that there are traditional academic titles and interests that will engage this sophisticated audience. This reminds me of conversations with university press editors over the years who talked about reaching the ENSR (pronounced En-sore) — Enlightened Non-Scholarly Reader. It turned out to be a mythical creature. They all believed in them but never actually captured a herd. ( Michalko)

Steal This Book (for $9.99) (External site)

The New York Times   •  May 17, 2009

Readers revolt and publishers protest. When Amazon tried to charge $15 for the Kindle download of a bestselling thriller, some readers dug their heels in and refused to buy it, noting that most of the Kindle collection was priced at $9.99. Publishers complain the lower price is not sustainable unless volume increases significantly. Is this just a replay of the music industry's woes?

Back in the day when we talked among ourselves we said that you could sell units of information online only when the price was about the same as buying a can of soda (circa 99¢, that's €0.71, etc.). Having an expected price point does allow for a kind of confidence in an impulse purchase. The issue with publishing still seems to be that urge to have a huge blockbuster success which demands those big advances as the entry to the game. ( Michalko)

Should Libraries Have eBooks? I'm Not Sure They Should (External site)

Activity Press   •  April 22, 2009

Down with libraries? The New Zealand Herald's Brian Rudman presents an alternate view of the role of public libraries in a digital future: "My own feeling is that the lending library, except for specialist research and archival libraries, probably has no place in the emerging digital world." Really?

Build/upgrade a building or use the money to digitize the collection? I think it's a good debate to have because those aren't the only choices that are available. Get rid of some of the books, rely on digital copies from elsewhere, or print titles that are already in somebody's storage is another response. One that's consistent with a systemic re-arrangement of our print collection management. E-book ownership seems to me to be a separate consideration. ( Michalko)

Jakob Nielsen Critiques Twitter (External site)

BusinessWeek   •  May 8, 2009

Hold that tweet. Usability expert Jakob Nielsen weighs in on the microblogging fad and offers some suggestions on the dos and don'ts of tweeting.

It sounds sensible. Of course, Jakob Nielsen always sounds sensible albeit a tad imperious. If you tweet, you'll have an opinion. I don't have one. ( Michalko)

A Web That Speaks Your Language (External site)

The New York Times   •  May 17, 2009

The amazing polyglot Web. Wikipedia articles are available in more than 200 languages and more than a third of the seven million blogs running on the WordPress software platform are in languages other than English. The result is that there's more to read every day, but unless you're a polyglot, you're less able to take advantage of it. To solve the problem, at least in the short term, volunteers are stepping up to take part in a massive crowd-sourced translation effort. Read on to find out who's doing what.

This volunteer phenomenon seems to me to be about the exercise of passion and enthusiasm rather than altruism and an interest in extending the Web. The successful example cited is translations of the talks at the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference . I've exercised my own enthusiasm for their videos in previous Above the Fold comments. ( Michalko)

Are Your 'Secret Questions' Too Easily Answered? (External site)

Technology Review   •  May 18, 2009

The secret's out. This article is a wake up call for everyone who's chosen answers to security questions so they can retrieve a password — the name of your pet and the high school you attended are known by way too many people and questions like "what's your favorite city" can be easily guessed by anyone. Even worse, if you come up with something clever and unique, you're likely to forget it in six months. There's no good alternative right now except non-participation.

Don't get me started — retina authentication can't get here soon enough for me. Apropos the article, I was bemused to have a site offer up as one of its security questions, 'What is your frequent flier number?' The sad thing — I knew it by heart. ( 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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