June 25, 2009    |   Vol. 2, No. 21    |   ISSN: 1943-1457
Above the Fold
A weekly newsletter for the changing world of libraries, archives and museums

In this issue:

Simon & Schuster to Sell Digital Books on Scribd.com  (External site)

The New York Times   •  June 11, 2009

Out-Amazoning Amazon. Scribd exec Trip Adler says it all: "This is the first public endorsement of a major force in publishing that the social Web will play a major role in the future of book sales." In a challenge to Amazon, the Scribd deal offers publishers more money and control over how their content is distributed and Adler is hoping more publishers will soon sign up.

For me this signifies the immaturity of the consumer electronic book market. This seems like a move driven by publisher fears — prices for their goods will be set by the hardware manufacturers and the e-book distribution channels. Think iTunes? ( Michalko)

Erin McKean Launches Wordnik — the Revolutionary Online Dictionary  (External site)

TEDBlog   •  June 8, 2009

Not your father's dictionary. The idea of a dictionary that evolves with language makes sense — where else could you find a word like "hamdemic" (referring to the swine flu outbreak)? Check out the interview with McKean and then check out the site itself for some fun browsing.

If you haven't had a chance to play with Wordnik yet set aside some time. Even in these early days it's a lot of fun and may even be en route to usefulness. Some of me pines for the comfort of authoritative usage judgments but the richness of the living language on display here provides a different kind of pleasure. Can't wait to offer up some of our favorite Research words and phrases. ( Michalko)

Turning the Pages Information System  (External site)

National Library of Medicine   

Knowledge at your virtual fingertips. Click through to find out how the U.S. National Library of Medicine is expanding on the Turning The Pages (TTP) technology developed by the British Library. Originally designed to provide BL visitors virtual access to rare books, the NLM's version gives home users similar access plus links to additional information.

This extension of the turning the pages technology might add some value to what otherwise seemed like a lot of work for very little in the way of enhanced user experience. I imagine that even with this extension it will still be "treasures" that are worthy of the investment. ( Michalko)

Who Profits from For-Profit Journals?  (External site)

Inside Higher Ed   •  June 18, 2009

The times, they are a-changin'. Revolt against commercial academic publishers is simmering, according to a recent meeting of the American Association of University Professors, who note that the complacency which has characterized the author-publisher relationship up to now is quickly disappearing. Driving the change is the proliferation of nonprofit options and the fact that open source publications are much more likely to turn up in Google searches, providing authors better visibility and a greater chance of being cited.

This is worth noting largely for the evidence it provides that the AAUP is pretty late to this debate and busy rehashing dimensions of the challenge with which research libraries have grappled for years. As Diane and Christine Borgman's research has proven: Peer-review is the coin of the realm but the tenure payoff is still between commercial covers. ( Michalko)

Tapping into the Innovation Information Ecosystem  (External site)

Innovating to Win   •  June 3, 2009

After the flood. We're all drowning in data, which the author notes becomes "actionable knowledge only when it's made available to knowledge workers in the context of their need, at the moment of need, in a form which is compatible with the researcher's thought templates." To achieve this goal, every organization needs an Innovation Information Ecosystem that is knowledge-worker-centric, and that incorporates all sources of information, formal and informal, from both inside and outside the organization.

You'll recognize a lot of the admonitions we've championed in Research in this brief article. "Reorganize knowledge networks around the knowledge worker" is functionally equivalent to Lorcan's phrase "The 'Library' must build services around user workflow." ( Michalko)

How Does Language Shape the Way We Think?  (External site)

Edge   •  June 12, 2009

The gift of gab. A fascinating study of how language shapes our experience of being human— strongly influencing the way we think about time, space, even colors.

This layman's overview of some very sophisticated research is worth your time. Thought-provoking. After you've read it consider some of the conventions that have characterized your experiences online. Why does the browser scroll up and down? Why not right to left or vice versa? Why doesn't each screen of information sit on top of the next in a stack? Is it because Marc Andreesen and the UIUC creators of Mosaic spoke English? ( 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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