October 20, 2009    |   Vol. 2, No. 35    |   ISSN: 1943-1457
Above the Fold
A weekly newsletter for the changing world of libraries, archives and museums

In this issue:

Apple's Next Revolution — And What You Can Learn From It  (External site)

Harvard Business Publishing   •   October 1, 2009

Keep an eye on the Appleverse. While the book industry is focused on the outcome of the Google Books settlement, media pundit Umair Haque is focused on Apple's next conquest — BMV — or books, music and video. Haque envisions an Apple Media Store — similar to its Apps Store — that will offer Apple tablet owners downloads of newspapers, blogs, TV shows, movies, books and more. "If the Media Store succeeds, the next-gen media industry will essentially be dominated by Google on the WWW, and Apple everywhere else," predicts Haque.

This Media Store and the scenario spun out are predicated on the "awesomeness" of the Apple tablet device which doesn't exist. It's strange that the scenario ignores the existence of the Kindle and the beachhead that Amazon is building. Of course, we've seen over the years how fragile these leads have been in hardware, software and media (cf. Rio, Lotus123, Voyager). ( Michalko)

Curling Up with Hybrid Books, Videos Included  (External site)

The New York Times   •  September 30, 2009

Seen any good vooks lately? Simon & Schuster is working with a multimedia partner to create four "vooks" — e-books with videos interspersed throughout the text that can be viewed online or on an iPhone or iPod Touch. The videos will be designed to either augment the text, or supplement or advance the story line. Read on for a preview of what's to come and the debate over whether it's a good idea.

It's a really ugly word that we don't need for a product that seems to be wanted more by publishers than consumers. These experiments confirm how early ebooks are in the evolutionary cycle. ( Michalko)

How to Beat Information Overload  (External site)

IEEE Spectrum   •   October 2009

Staying on task. Information workers are interrupted once every three minutes on average and it's taking a toll on our productivity. Even worse, we're becoming "interrupt driven," says author Nathan Zeldes: "We respond, sometimes on the spot, to any request for action. This unplanned shift of priorities can derail progress on the primary job." Sound familiar? Zeldes provides an overview of how different companies have dealt with this issue — from Zero E-mail Days, to enforced "quiet time" to software that encourages e-mail effectiveness or prioritizes workers' availability.

There's an old-school character to this overview focused as it is solely on e-mail. The info-glut river is a lot more than email, with our feeds, our "friends" and those we follow and who follow us making things run faster and deeper. That said, a lot of the mindfulness-based management recommended in this article could apply across the range of our queued messaging overload and interruptions. You might want to go directly to the Information Overload Research Group's site where the discussion is broader. To punctuate Zeldes' point I did this issue of ATF on an airplane — the last quiet workspace. ( Michalko)

The Myth of Crowdsourcing  (External site)

Forbes   •  September 29, 2009

Crowds aren't smart — individuals are. CTO Dan Woods debunks the myth that there are hordes of open source fanatics out there, ready to tackle any problem for free. In reality, open source solutions are usually the work of one enthusiast motivated by "obsession, competition, money, or all three." Even Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales admits that most of the online encyclopedia articles are the work of a single individual rather than a collaborative effort. But why should we care? Woods argues that our recent embrace of crowdsourcing is undermining corporate support for the "heroic inventor," as businesses are convinced they can tap into open source innovation on the cheap.

This is a well-written rant with which I agree. The persistent misrepresentations of what it takes to create successful open source software and the naïve assertions about the authenticity supposedly generated by the crowd fuel a lot of unfortunate investment. How often have you been forced to discuss why some project isn't being done "open-source?" ( Michalko)

How Understanding Customer Jobs Turns Crowdsourcing into Smartsourcing  (External site)

Customer Think   •  September 6, 2009

Don't wear out your crowdsource. Companies that turn their suggestion boxes over to customers risk sapping employee energy and alienating their clientele. At My Starbucks Idea, out of more than 75,000 ideas submitted, only 315 have been implemented to date — which translates into a lot of time wasted reviewing proposals and a large number of potentially disgruntled customers. But Cisco has found a better way to solicit input, and the first step is finding an innovation sweet spot and identifying emergent customers.

This article isn't really about crowdsourcing — it's about innovation and where it comes from. As the previous article emphasized it comes from individuals. And even better it comes from individuals motivated by a focused challenge with a known reward. Obsession, competition, reputation and money are the drivers for innovation. ( Michalko)

In Recession, Curators Tap the Treasures at Hand  (External site)

The Washington Post   •  October 2, 2009

Collections for a rainy day. "Creative curating" is in vogue these days, with museums making greater use of their own collections and finding new ways to add pizzazz without running up the budget.

While making the point about treasures from the basement this is a nice overview of what's coming up at Washington D.C. museums. There are a few exhibitions mentioned that I will now anticipate. I really like the photographer Edward Burtynsky (check out the quarries, urban mines, and the shipbreaking photos). The photos are very large — 40 inches square and more — so the web images do not convey the painterly quality of the actual work. There was a small but wonderful show at Stanford's Cantor Art Center in 2006 that introduced me to his work. ( Michalko)

Lines Blur Between Blogs, Newspapers  (External site)

The Christian Science Monitor   •  September 23, 2009

The evolution of news. Newspapers are struggling to stay in business but their blogging cousins are picking up the slack, says Garrett Graff, who predicted five years ago that the best newspapers would end up looking like the best blogs and vice versa. He notes that they now exhibit a "symbiotic relationship," with big news sites like Huffington Post and The Daily Beast looking more and more like newspapers, and Politico's White House correspondents corps outnumbering those of any print-based media outlet. Can blogging save journalism?

The answer is no. The scariest thing noted here is a prediction that what will disappear are "the mid-length stories, from 500 words to 2,000 words, that are too long for people who aren't interested in the subject, but too short for people who are." That's just about the length where analysis and understanding get separated from bursts of exposition. ( Michalko)

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Above the Fold is a Web-based newsletter published by OCLC 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. Research items are supplied by staff in OCLC Research. Please send comments and questions about this or other issues to rlg@oclc.org.
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