July 9, 2009    |   Vol. 2, No. 23    |   ISSN: 1943-1457
Above the Fold
A weekly newsletter for the changing world of libraries, archives and museums

In this issue:

Management by Design  (External site)

Richard Farson, Western Behavioral Sciences Institute   •  

The power of social design. Designing your workspace is a lot like staging a dinner party, says psychologist and design specialist Richard Farson, who touts the power of spatial design to invoke desired behavior. "Design achieves its power because it can create situations, and a situation is more determining of what people will actually do than is personality, character, habit, genetics, unconscious motives or any other aspect of our individual makeup. Nobody smokes in church, no matter how addicted." Read on for an interesting commentary on relationship between leadership and design.

There's a lot that resonates here. Within OCLC Research and the RLG Partnership we've committed to help research institutions design their future. While we haven't said it explicitly our work acknowledges that "design is the creation of form." In combination with institutional leaders and managers we're engaged in creating the forms that will define a renewed value for information services. ( Michalko)

The Simple Reason Most Companies Can't Handle Major Change  (External site)

Forbes   •  June 10, 2009

Beware of benchmarking. When businesses seek to revamp their operations, they often look to their most successful peers for inspiration. However, this can be a mistake, say business strategy experts Albrecht Enders and Andreas König, who note that "looking to others within one's industry, especially market leaders, can be a recipe for the demise of everyone in the industry."

Research libraries have certainly been victims of the "social proof" theory mentioned here. The admonition to look outside our industry for new models of success makes a lot of sense. ( Michalko)

Information is a Task  (External site)

O'Reilly Radar     June 21, 2009

Words to live by. As information junkies, sometimes we forget that most "regular" people seek information as a means to accomplish a concrete objective. And the way we should judge our success is whether we enable people to achieve their goals, not whether we can dish out lots and lots of information.

Has it helped people complete a task at hand? A fine question to be asked of a lot of our effort c.f. Roy's famous utterance "Only librarians like to search, everyone else likes to find." ( Michalko)

Get Smarter  (External site)

The Atlantic   •  July/August 2009

Welcome to the Nöosphere. This is a fascinating encapsulation of the evolution of intelligence augmentation (or in the words of the author, "You+"). Cascio covers it all, from exo-cortical technology like computers and PDAs to intelligence-enhancing drugs like Modafinil to Singularity (dubbed "rapture for nerds" by one pundit).

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we really could move from a world of "continuous partial attention" to one we might call "continuous augmented awareness?" Note that the previous sentence is eight characters too long to be a tweet. ( Michalko)

A Wandering Mind Heads Straight Toward Insight  (External site)

Wall Street Journal   •  June 19, 2009

Deconstructing the "aha" moment. We all know that inspiration often strikes when our minds are idle, but now scientists have actually mapped the brain activity involved in different types of problem-solving.

I'm glad to see that the authors cite a study indicating that day-dreaming is actually hard work. I've always felt that way but presumed it was just me. ( Michalko)

Trusting Google and Yahoo: Search Engines and Information Literacy  (External site)

Change This   •  June 2009

Reality check. This is just a reminder that those "results" you get every time you enter a keyword and click are not bias-free. Web consultant Jay Moonah offers suggestions on how to use critical thinking skills when evaluating search results.

If you need a very painless and basic overview of search engine optimization and the economy of links you'll find this just right. Note that this link goes to a pdf of the article. And, if you're not already familiar with the ChangeThis site I think you'll enjoy it. They commission 'manifestos' which, in their words, is what "we call one of our PDF files. It's an argument, a reasoned, rational call to action, supported by logic and facts." I've subscribed for some time. It's where I first came across Malcolm Gladwell and Seth Godin. Worthy of your consideration. ( 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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