November 02, 2009    |   Vol. 2, No. 37    |   ISSN: 1943-1457
Above the Fold
A weekly newsletter for the changing world of libraries, archives and museums

In this issue:

Doctorow's Project: With a Little Help  (External site)

Publishers Weekly   •   October 19, 2009

Cory the Explorer. New media pioneer Cory Doctorow chronicles his adventures in publishing — from e-books to audio files to premium, embossed cover hardbacks. This article is the first of a series on his experience with his latest book, aptly titled With a Little Help. As an early participant in digital publishing, Doctorow's observations are worth a read.

The latest book is an experiment, the terms of which have been revealed in advance and the results of which will be fully shared. I'll be very interested in the P/L statement. And I'll bet it will be positive in a way that's not embarrassing. ( Michalko)

Does the Brain Like E-Books?  (External site)

The New York Times   •  October 14, 2009

Preaching to the choir.You're reading this on screen right now, but maybe you'd rather be curled up with a good book. This article features five short essays by experts in literature, neuroscience, child development, computer science and informatics on our brain's relationship with the written word and how it's changing.

I like these very different perspectives. There's plenty here about how attention of children, not to mention their brains, is being reshaped by the word on the screen. I've mentioned the Transliteracies project here before. You should check it out. ( Michalko)

Streams, Walls, and Feeds: Distributing Content Through Social Networks and RSS  (External site)

Jakob Nielsen's AlertBox   •   October 12, 2009

Rules of engagement. A recent study by usability expert Jakob Nielsen does not contain any earthshaking revelations, but offers some common sense suggestions, such as making sure your postings are substantive, timely and informative. And be generous when designing reader feedback space — once a comment is bumped off the page, it's history. Few users bother to click through to older messages in the stream.

Business use of these social network services is on the rise (and there have been various urgings that libraries need to be in the mix). This is a timely study with clear outcomes, e.g. "The messages that received the highest scores had three things in common: they contained something of substance, were timely, and provided the kind of information that users expected from the source company or organization." Now isn't that true of any message you receive? ( Michalko)

The Baby Boomer Web  (External site)

Endless Innovation   •  October 14, 2009

Boomer power. The latest data from Nielsen Claritas shows the Boomer generation is once again flexing its demographic muscle — this time in social networking and social media. Turns out, instead of gardening and golf, retirees are turning to Facebook and MySpace. The implications are huge for online marketing campaigns.

Can it be that only 10.27% of 18-24 year-old internet users use Facebook? ( Michalko)

In Rochester, a Newspaper Dips into Gaming to Reach New Young Readers  (External site)

Nieman Journalism Lab   •  September 15, 2009

Luring new readers, one clue at a time. In an interesting experiment aimed at engaging the under-40 crowd, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle has teamed with Rochester Institute of Technology to sponsor a citywide alternate reality game. Clues are hidden in print editions, and more than a thousand players have signed up. This is an interesting idea for energizing a community around a print product.

It's no small feat to get 1,000 registered gamers before the game starts. It is, however, a "small" feat. You have to applaud the experiment even while wondering how much traction this kind of experimental re-invention can get. ( Michalko)

Dispute Finder: Making the Call on Web 'Facts'  (External site)

The Christian Science Monitor   •  October 13, 2009

Reality check. A new software program runs in tandem with your Web browser and sniffs out questionable "facts" encountered during your online reading. The system's creator points out Dispute Finder is not infallible, but this could be a valuable service in an era of dwindling numbers of newspaper fact-checkers.

I haven't tried this yet. Perhaps I won't. I've already got so many Firefox extensions that purport to be helpful but have slowly suffered from my unwillingness to click them. I used to love you but now go click yourself. (Dispute Finder seems like it will win or lose not just from its perceived utility but whether it can attract the crowd of enthusiastic "explainers." Scale?) ( Michalko)

Investigative Reporting in the Web Era  (External site)

McKinsey & Company/What Matters   •  October 14, 2009

Someone's got to do it. Pro Publica editor-in-chief Paul Steigen talks about how his organization is supplementing newspapers' efforts to dig deep and ask the hard questions. With the largest pool of investigative reporters in the country, Pro Publica offers a counterweight to the disinformation propagated by some politically motivated bloggers. Let's hope efforts such as these can prop up an increasingly shaky Fourth Estate.

News doesn't need newspapers but it does need reporters. There are lots of interesting anecdotes in this article about reporters prospering without a newspaper. I wonder, however, what will happen to the values, ethics and professional expectations that the news institutions sustained and passed on to each cohort of aspiring reporters? ( Michalko)

Merging Video with Maps  (External site)

Technology Review   •  October 14, 2009

MapQuest on steroids. Software developed by Microsoft and Germany's University of Konstanz allows the user to preview a realistic panoramic video of a route before it's driven. "What we wanted to do is build a system where we could give [drivers] those visual cues before they got into the car," says MSN researcher Billy Chen.

Could be pretty cool. All those boomers mentioned in the earlier article will only grow more appreciative of these kinds of cues. ( 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)