July 24, 2009    |   Vol. 2, No. 25    |   ISSN: 1943-1457
Above the Fold
A weekly newsletter for the changing world of libraries, archives and museums

In this issue:

Getting to 'Wow': Consumers Describe What Makes a Great Shopping Experience  (External site)

Knowledge@Wharton   •   July 8, 2009

Have you wowed anyone recently? This article focuses on what makes a retail shopping experience extraordinary, but many of the elements are equally applicable to visiting a library or museum. The bad news is, there's no cookie cutter formula guaranteed to impress all patrons — opinions on what made an experience great varied based on customers' age and nationality — but one strategy stands out as key: hiring people who are courteous, knowledgeable and caring goes a long way toward getting to "wow."

When you consider the way the library is being emphasized as 'place,' this article that proceeds from a retail perspective actually offers up good advice about what would make that place special. The way different elements of the experience are valued differently by different age groups is also very useful to remember. ( Michalko)

Exponential Innovation and Institutional Demise  (External site)

George Benckenstein   •  June 29, 2009

Food for thought. The author cites the inability of most institutions to innovate — most institutions are too large to change quickly, and by the time they overcome their inertia, they're working on a problem that no longer exists because conditions have changed again. Benckenstein offers some good suggestions for any institution in flux (i.e., Forget Consultants) — check out his list and think about how you can steer your large institution into acting more like a small business.

In our space we don't reflect often enough on the fact that libraries along with all institutions face the prospect of institutional extinction. That doesn't mean that libraries won't be around but they may be very different institutions than they are now. The author's six most important things to understand in order to adapt and compete are good ones. Sample: Your best ideas aren't necessarily your own — accept this.

A grump and a tip: Benckenstein may be an interesting social marketing strategist but it's clear he doesn't have any web design training. With the surfeit of boldface, italics and whacky capitalization I found it almost impossible to read right through. So here's a tip for anybody who spends a lot of time reading from websites — go to the Readability tool and bookmark it. It's been an eye and mind-saver for me. ( Michalko)

Interview with Tim Berners-Lee, Part 2: Search Engines, User Interfaces for Data, Wolfram Alpha, And More  (External site)

ReadWriteWeb     July 9, 2009

Talking about the Internet of Things. Tim Berners-Lee discusses some of the new search efforts on the horizon and talks about what it will be like in the future, when everything is tied to the Web via its own RFID chip or URI. Berners-Lee calls it "the last link — the last mile," as the increasing use of embedded chips and environmental sensors open up a new world of real-time data at users' fingertips.

This along with Part 1 of the interview is a good overview of where TB-L thinks things stand with the semantic web and linked data. He advances the helpful notion that progress in this arena is slow because of the syndrome he calls "progressive competitive disclosure." ( Michalko)

Amazon Taps Its Inner Apple  (External site)

Fast Company   •  July 1, 2009

The book publishers' dilemma. Do they go with Jeff Bezos — the devil they know — or Steve Jobs — the devil they don't? While Bezos has aggressively courted publishers with his e-book business model, Apple's interest in all things digital should not be discounted. Read on for an interesting discussion of the future of the book (will Apple ultimately turn it into a multimedia event?).

This is a good primer on the economics of the book publishing business, the evolutionary imperative already felt by the first successful internet companies and the ways consumers are banding with the distributors against the publishers (not unlike music). Just to demonstrate the rapidity of Amazon's evolution I wanted to give you a link to their 1995 home page but the link doesn't work anymore. Here's a blog entry with the image. ( Michalko)

A Bad Law Threatens Our Past  (External site)

The New Atlantis   •  Spring 2009

Loss of a legacy. A law passed in response to the scare over lead contaminants in children's toys has given the Consumer Products Safety Commission the green light to outlaw the resale of all children's books published before 1985 unless they pass a lead test. The problem? Prior to 1985, lead in miniscule amounts was a common ingredient in ink. Unless the books can be labeled "collectors' items," unlikely to be read by children, booksellers face $100,000 fine for selling the books or even giving them away. The article conjures up visions of book destruction on a massive scale -- what can we do to bring Congress to its senses?

Well, I'll be sure not to put any of those children's books I have boxed in the garage on the menu. ( Michalko)

Does Social Networking Breed Social Division?  (External site)

The New York Times   •  July 9, 2009

Mirror on the real world. Social media researcher Danah Boyd says the changing demographics of the two largest social networking sites suggest that better educated, white and Asian users are migrating away from MySpace to Facebook. Her findings are echoed by other recent studies, and the results point to the evolution of an online world that mirrors the social divide in American society. "What we're seeing is a modern incarnation of white flight," says Boyd. "It should scare the hell out of us."

I can believe that social media "mirrors and magnifies" our social divisions. Boyd has put this with her usual rhetorical flourish. Read the whole article including the correlation with the Pew Internet and American Life project findings. ( Michalko)

Another Book Is Added to Our Collections: Facebook  (External site)

Library of Congress   •   July 9, 2009

Riding the wave. The venerable LoC now has a Facebook page and is active on Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and iTunes U. Check it out. (Meanwhile, we could not find an official Library of Congress page on MySpace.)

I kind of get Facebook. At least I'm there and I've enjoyed some of its utility. Nevertheless, I do not understand this 'be a fan of...' business. Nor the 'gifting.' And don't get me started about those endless 'quizzes' and the results that get visited on everyone. ( 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.
  • Subscribe to Above the Fold
  • Sign up to receive e-mail updates directly from OCLC.
  • OCLC respects your privacy
  • Read our privacy policy or contact us at privacy@oclc.org.
  • © 2009 OCLC
  • OCLC   6565 Kilgour Place, Dublin OH USA 43017-3395    oclc@oclc.org   1-614-764-6000   1-800-848-5878 (USA)