August 28, 2009    |   Vol. 2, No. 29    |   ISSN: 1943-1457
Above the Fold
A weekly newsletter for the changing world of libraries, archives and museums

In this issue:

Seeking  (External site)

Slate   •   August 12, 2009

Primal instinct. The need to "seek" is an integral part of our mental makeup, and neuroscientists are finding the stimulation it provides is even more powerful than the gratification we get from targeting our pleasure center. According to Washington State neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp, "Seeking is the granddaddy of the systems," which helps explain how we can so easily get sidetracked for hours on Google or obsessively keep checking e-mail. As it turns out, "info junkie" is a pretty apt description.

Fascinating. Dopamine explains it all. These studies would rephrase Roy's observation about librarians and users as "Librarians want to want, users like a reward." ( Michalko)

The Return of the Epigram  (External site)

The Smart Set   •  From Drexel University

Pithy and to the point.Columnist Morgan Meis says that while the Twitter phenomenon has encouraged an overproduction of celebrity dross, the 140-character limit may herald the revival of the epigram—concise, clever, poems or witty observations that were all the rage in Greek and Roman times. Read on for a brief history of the epigram and some amusing examples.

It's not clear to me that the quoted Twitter swipes are as elegant as those quoted from the Latin but there is an a lot to admire about the difficulty of achieving genuine pithiness c.f. Roy's observation referenced above. ( Michalko)

Foster a More 'Giving' Identity to Rouse Donors and Volunteers  (External site)

Stanford Knowledgebase     August 2009

What makes people give? It turns out that by triggering a person's "social identity," nonprofits may have more success in encouraging people to give money or volunteer their time. "Really small manipulations can have a really big impact on how people think of themselves," says Stanford marketing professor Jennifer Aaker.

These seem to be lessons that have been well-understood by National Public Radio and others. Their pitches to give are very much designed to create a cohort with whom the giving individual will identify. And have you noticed that there's a period of time in advance of the drive when they constantly call for volunteers? As the article points out, "asking people first for time—rather than money—increased the chance they would give money when asked later." ( Michalko)

The Grill: MIT Media Labs' David Merrill on Tangible Computing  (External site)

Computerworld   •  August 10, 2009

Palm computing. Media Labs' David Merrill talks about "siftables"—small, block-like computers the size of a child' s building blocks—that can be manipulated alone or as a group to perform a task. This new take on an intuitive physical interface has implications for interactive museum displays and other public kiosk-type activities.

Click on the "Siftables" link in the article to get taken to a short TED talk in which these are demonstrated and discussed. Toy-like now, but later who knows? ( Michalko)

How Web-Savvy Edupunks Are Transforming American Higher Education  (External site)

Fast Company   •  September 1, 2009

Education 2.0. The current traditional higher ed system is unsustainable and the "Edupunk" generation is pushing ahead with open courseware, wiki textbooks and other collaborative intelligence alternatives. Check out the latest trends in the evolution of higher education.

Good and provocative overview. There's no question a revolution is happening. However, the rapidity and the residual forms are big unknowns. Witness the bold MIT move to put all its courseware online and the persistence of its on-campus degrees at $189,000 each. ( Michalko)

Keeping Cartography Alive  (External site)

Metropolis   •  August 13, 2009

Crowd-mapping. A new software platform called Cartagen allows users to embellish maps with their own points of interest— parks, streets, libraries, etc.—and revise as needed as the neighborhood changes. In one experiment, the software was used to create a collaborative map of wildlife sightings in New York, providing a real-time plotting of bird and animal movements.

It's good to be reminded that cartographic creativity is more than sticking a pin in a Google Map. Some of what's on show here reminds me of my graduate school days when the University of Chicago issued police whistles along with your apartment key. Blow the whistle when you have a problem or whenever you hear another whistle being blown. Real-time sonic crime mapping. ( Michalko)

Happy Information Overload Awareness Day! Here Are Some Tips for Reducing It!  (External site)

Beth's Blog   •  August 12, 2009

An Addict's Guide to social media. If you're consumed by Facebooking, blogging and Tweeting, this column is for you. If not, it's still good advice to shut your computer off one day a week and smell the roses.

See the first article in this list. Wanting and liking equals addiction. This article talks you away from your devices in measured and supportive tones that you may appreciate. (By the way, while the title "Beth's Blog" is charmingly brief, it is subtitled "How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media.") ( 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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