August 14, 2009    |   Vol. 2, No. 27    |   ISSN: 1943-1457
Above the Fold
A weekly newsletter for the changing world of libraries, archives and museums

In this issue:

The Truth About Grit  (External site)

The Boston Globe   •   August 2, 2009

Perseverance pays off. It turns out that being smart isn't the best indicator of future success—it's whether you have the ability to work hard and stick with a task. Studies by scientists and the military have borne out the research—the task now is to grow "grittier" children by praising them for their extra effort, not their innate intelligence. Meanwhile, these lessons might be carried over into the workplace—providing a new focus for performance reviews or job candidate selection.

Reading this made me tired wondering about my own "grit" levels. I haven't taken the survey that's linked to in the article. There are intriguing anecdotes throughout the article that made me think about how native intelligence, grit and self-control (deferred gratification) seem to be a success combination. On the self-control dimension see the "marshmallow" experiment mentioned in an article featured in an earlier issue of Above the Fold. ( Michalko)

Innovative Lateral Thinking  (External site)

Idea Connection   •  July 25, 2009

Challenging assumptions. Author Paul Sloane says thinking laterally—approaching an issue from a new direction—can help companies avoid the fate of defunct airlines that failed to look beyond their long-held assumption that every passenger received a paper ticket, an assigned seat and a free drink. The interview covers a number of familiar topics—brainstorming techniques, open innovation—but Sloane's insight is worth reading.

There's a flood of management consulting speak in this article but it's worth a scan to see how much of the valuable advice boils down to questioning assumptions and putting yourself into the mindset of your client or customer. ( Michalko)

As the EBook Market Matures, Amazon Will Face Stiff Competition  (External site)

ReadWriteWeb     August 3, 2009

Still waiting for the Kindle Killer. A recent report from Forrester notes that while Amazon is clearly the market leader among early adopters, later adopters are likely to latch onto the best deal for the best price. And at $300+, that won't be the Kindle. And while ebook technology is improving, it's still unclear how many people will want to give up their hard copy. As one commenter noted, "the Kindle solves problems that publishers and retailers have, not problems that readers have."

There are some interesting statistics revealed in this article. I was particularly struck by the household income level of those who own or are thinking about purchasing a reader. It is high, confirming that we're still at the very early adopter stage, but we know how fast that can change based on the iPod and iPhone experience. The Sony announcement about conformance to the ePub standard may change the inventory part of the inventory-distribution-device equation. ( Michalko)

Rent, Read and Return  (External site)

Inside Higher Ed   •  July 31, 2009

Rent-a-text. Several new companies are joining a number of colleges in offering students an alternative to high-priced textbooks—a rental program that allows them to borrow the books for a small fee, and then charges full price if they damage or don't return them. The move is just one more response to the overpriced textbook publishing industry. Read on to learn more about the different business models and the pros and cons involved.

I thought this was going to be about "renting" textbooks in e-format but it's actually about models that rent the physical item, essentially trying to capture the residual value of texts that had otherwise been recaptured in the used book aftermarket. If students get comfortable renting their physical texts why would they hesitate over "renting" them in e-formats? ( Michalko)

How Wolfram Alpha Could Change Software  (External site)

Infoworld   •  July 30, 2009

Copyrighted search results? According to the creator of the new "computational knowledge engine" Wolfram Alpha, using its results page without attribution may "constitute academic plagiarism or a violation of copyright law." In this way, Wolfram Alpha is claiming intellectual property protection not just for its specialized software, but for the output of that software—a precedent that could have legal ramifications for other software-as-a-service applications.

Most of the buzz about Wolfram has focused on the way it has reconceived of a search. The assertion that they have an IP claim in the outputs from their software is a bold one. I wonder whether it will be challenged, and by whom? ( Michalko)

Adding Meaning to Millions of Numbers  (External site)

MIT Technology Review   •  July 29, 2009

Pick a number... A Web site called Truenumber allows users to tag numbers with defining data, providing semantic context for their significance. The concept could provide a handy shortcut for engineers, but also could be useful for journalists, academics and others.

It's Wikimedia for numbers. The tagging effort is focused on various engineering quantities so I don't understand all the ramifications. Nevertheless, the notion that specific numbers have persistent meanings that can become searchable is really intriguing to me. Plus the graphs are pretty cool. ( Michalko)

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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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