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Above the Fold

A weekly newsletter for the changing world of libraries, archives and museums

June 18, 2010
Vol. 3, No. 21
ISSN: 1943-1457

In this issue:


Crappy Innovation  (External site)

Digital Tonto   •  May 30, 2010

Blindsided by mediocrity. We've read about disruptive innovation and the damage it can do to companies busy resting on their laurels. But blogger Greg Satell says the reason many of the upstarts are overlooked is that they offer "crappy" products: "The problem was that if these crappy upstarts stayed around long enough, they became less crappy and eventually pretty darn good. In other words, the companies [Clayton Christensen] studied failed not because they got worse, but that they continued to get better and better at things people cared less and less about."

Here's the three-minute version of Christensen's critical text— The Innovator's Dilemma. If you haven't ever read it, you must. It ought to inform all of our thinking about our current operations and the likelihood that we can actually invent our own future. I like the characterization in this post of Apple as a "sustaining innovator." ( Michalko)


The Basics of Creative Problem Solving—CPS  (External site)

Innovation Tools   •  June 2, 2010

Step 1: Define the problem. How often do we rush into a brainstorm session without first taking the time necessary to truly clarify which problem we're trying to solve? Jeffrey Baumgartner offers some helpful suggestions on alternative ways to look at your issue—which may take you in a totally different direction when it comes to resolving it.

Nothing here that you haven't heard before but if you are charged with leading some problem-solving sessions you'll find all the provocative questions embedded in this short article helpful. ( Michalko)


Arguing Against Links: Are They Distracting, Counterproductive and Anti-Intellectual?  (External site)

Scholarly Kitchen   •  June 3, 2010

Hunting down violent footnotes. Nicholas Carr's recent essay on " Experiments in Delinkification" is sparking debate over whether hyperlinks detract from the experience of reading. He calls them "distraction-wise, a more violent form of a footnote." Scholarly Kitchen's Ken Anderson examines Carr's argument and cites other thinkers' opinions on the subject, and concludes: "Scholarly reading is often a form of information chasing. Links are the modern version of our classic prey. As readers, we just need to master modern hunting techniques."

Good summary of the arguments. Not definitive. One person's irritation is another's creative form. Think David Foster Wallace. Here he is telling Charlie Rose about endnotes (and remarking that "being on television stimulates your vanity gland like nothing else"). And if you never read his book of essays— A Supposedly Fun Thing I Will Never Do Again—you should. You'll see why those footnotes are fracturing, funny and necessary. What a shame he's gone. ( Michalko)


Gamers—A New Breed of Knowledge Workers in the Making?  (External site)

Elsua.net—A Knowledge Management Blog   •  May 25, 2010

Untapped resource? Check out the recent TED talk by Jane McGonigal, Gaming can make a better world, which sparked this little essay on harnessing the unquenchable optimism and motivational drive of virtual world gamers who have real world jobs. Blogger Luis Suarez points out that many of the characteristics attributed to gamers by McGonigal mirror those of our most evangelistic knowledge workers.

The reflections in this essay on McGonigal's talk are a nice overview, but the real "epic win" here is her TED talk. It's 20 minutes and worth it. Particularly if, like me, you aren't a gamer. Her summary of the how and why of gaming seems spot on. Pascal would have agreed c.f. Pensee 140. It made me sad that I have no familiarity with the form. ( Michalko)


Historypin: Past Meets Present in Street View  (External site)

Brain Pickings   •  June 4, 2010

Time machine. Historypin is a very cool concept for tracking the history of geographical locations through a mashup of modern mapping and archival photos contributed by volunteers. The author says it has potential as a "priceless time capsule of cultural change." In any event, it offers an interesting way to make use of all those old family photos stashed in the attic.

Crowd-sourced history, personal stories, and unexpected connections. This is fun. And the blog that pointed to it is even more fun. Get it on your RSS feed. ( 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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