June 19, 2009    |   Vol. 2, No. 20    |   ISSN: 1943-1457
Above the Fold
A weekly newsletter for the changing world of libraries, archives and museums

In this issue:

Innovation Strategy: How to Make Mass Customization Work  (External site)

Innovation Tools   •  June 2, 2009

The myth of mass customization. No organization can be all things to all people. This article — adapted from the Sloan Management Review — notes that mass customization is more "about developing a set of organizational capabilities that will, over time, supplement and enrich an existing business." Focusing on a well-designed "solution space" for customer input can help you better understand your patrons' preferences and allow you to provide the right mix of choices to meet their requirements.

I think libraries have, in the authors parlance, missed "establishing a middle ground" where you successfully minimize complexity and the burden of choice. Some of our recent work in the local catalog attempts to do this. (By the way, I actually tried the custom Levi's offering that the authors mention. Sitting in a hot tub at the flagship store in San Francisco's Union Square. It didn't work. ( Michalko)

The Impending Demise of the University  (External site)

Edge   •  June 4, 2009

Food for thought. Don Tapscott's commentary on the increasing irrelevance of the traditional pedagogical model for today's students who were "raised digital" echoes many of the issues that we must consider as well. We need to think about how we can promote interactive discussions with our younger constituents and adapt our mindset to accommodate new ways of thinking about our business.

A terrific article that brings together many of the strands in this debate. You'll find nearly all the touchstone authors and articles referenced (Shirky, Benkler, et al.) and then a good argument pulled together by Tapscott. Interesting that he concludes the universities that are most threatened are those big ones that have defined themselves around research. They're likely to be the ones least adaptable to new modes of teaching since pedagogy has been neglected for so long. There may be an analogous phenomenon with our biggest research libraries? ( Michalko)

Lingering  (External site)

n + 1   •  May 31, 2009

Digital compulsion. Those of us who came of age in the pre-digital world can still remember a time when we filled our spare hours taking walks, writing letters or visiting friends. Our current tendency to fill any void with online activities is making these other choices increasingly irrelevant, says Benjamin Kunkel, who warns: "The experience of being online has at least as much to do with compulsiveness as with liberty." Read on for a well-crafted review of three recent books on the topic.

A very nicely crafted essay woven from reflections on three books chronicling a view of our digital age. The bookends of this essay use Proust's observations about his first ever phone call and his introduction to a new technology to call attention to the "domestication" phase of digital connectivity in which we currently live. I'll have to go read the Proust passages. (They are on page 811 in this edition of Remembrance of Things Past according to Google Book Search — snippet only.) ( Michalko)

News Flash From the Future: What Will Journalism Look Like?  (External site)

Fast Company   •  June 1, 2009

Getting your point across in the Instant Information Age. This article focuses on what's happening in the news industry, but the author's observations describe more general trends in how people seek out information and create content in this age of instant information.

Worth it for the illustrations imagining the shape of news in the future. Watch for them to show up in one or more OCLC Research presentations in the future. ( Michalko)

Why Companies Fail — Part I  (External site)

WSJ Blogs   •  June 1, 2009

You can't coast forever. Even market leaders can meander into mediocrity, says Gary Hamel, who notes that, "In a world where change is shaken rather than stirred, the only way a company can renew its lease on success is by reinventing itself root and branch, before it has to — a feat that even the smartest companies have trouble pulling off." This is just another reminder we need to avoid complacency and take a proactive approach to staying relevant.

I'm a fan of Gary Hamel. "Gravity wins." "Strategies die." "Change happens." And he asks whether we know of any companies struggling with an out-of-date business model or strategy. ( Michalko)

Data.gov: Opening the Doors to Government Data  (External site)

Information Today   •  June 4, 2009

Navigating Data.gov. If you haven't checked out Data.gov yet, this article provides a good overview of what's available, how to find it and what to expect next.

A brief but useful overview of the site and its prospects. ( Michalko)

Twitter for Libraries (and Librarians)  (External site)

Information Today   •  May 2009

Joining the Twitterverse. Read how libraries are using Twitter to keep their patrons informed and think about how we can expand beyond "broadcasting" to enrich our conversations with constituents.

Is it obvious yet that I don't get Twitter? Let the cup pass me by. Say "Fail Whale" as an imperative. And if you need to be taught "Twittiquette for Institutions" you should probably not be tweeting. But if you want to learn you'll find it here. ( 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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