OCLC Research  

Above the Fold

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

July 16, 2010
Vol. 3, No. 24
ISSN: 1943-1457

In this issue:


Why E-books Will Never Replace Real Books  (External site)

Slate   •  June 29, 2010

What about the trees? Composer/writer Jan Swafford uses Marshall McLuhan's dichotomy of hot and cool media to talk about the process of reading, writing and editing on a computer screen. He maintains that the best final draft editing occurs on paper—but how many of us bother to do that anymore?

I'm surprised that I hadn't thought about using McLuhan's media analyses to think about the e-book. So much of what he said continues to be useful in deconstructing the patterns of electronic media. Try this video in which at minute 1:08 he describes what you'd recognize as a recommender system as implemented by Amazon and many others. Wow. ( Michalko)


How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Idea Collection  (External site)

Innovate on Purpose   •  July 1, 2010

Ideas=innovation—not. Blogger Jeffrey Phillips points out that when businesses solicit ideas—from employees, customers, the general public—they sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that simply assembling an idea collection translates into innovation. In fact, says Phillips, all these ideas are worthless until they are evaluated, applied to a specific problem and successfully implemented. Meanwhile, maintaining a database of unused ideas risks making an organization look stale and out of touch.

Do organizations really maintain a database of unused ideas? Many of his observations resonate with some recent experience we've had in creating an innovation space at OCLC. People think that the ideas that couldn't generate traction as business propositions can simply be dressed up a bit and will turn heads when given an innovation label. Lipstick. Pig. ( Michalko)


The Tyranny of the "Daily 10 Per Cent"  (External site)

Evolving Newsroom   •  July 1, 2010

More is not better. New Zealand journalist Julie Starr suggests that newspapers' biggest problem today isn't the actual quality of news—it's people's perception of the quality. But because most news readers consume only about 10-15% of what's generated each day anyway, newspapers should try offering better curation and filtering tools that would enable readers to pack more of what they like into their "daily 10%."

There's the "curation" word again. I'm not sure the perception argument is correct nor that someone else can do a good job of packaging my ideal "10%." If I'm a frequent visitor and the system learns and I'm willing to tune it, then the selection will come closer and closer to that ideal. Of course, sometimes you'd just like to be surprised—something you wouldn't have chosen turns out to be intriguing. Like our selection for Above the Fold ; ) ( Michalko)


Data Science Democratized  (External site)

O'Reilly Radar   •  July 1, 2010

Powerful stuff. As the mass of global data proliferates, easy-to-use visualization tools are essential for making sense of it. Skim this article for the Justin Bieber vs. Tea Party connections example.

This is the right idea. At present, data mining and the extraction of intelligence from large data sets is gated by those possessing high-level computational skills. When all of us get these kinds of tools there will be an explosion of investigation and new meanings based on evidence. It's not far-fetched. Think about the ways an ordinary person can now manipulate numbers using Excel. I remember how the world changed with the release of VisiCalc. ( Michalko)


Internet Archive Sets Fair-Use Bait with Open Library Lending  (External site)

Go to Hellman   •  July 2, 2010

Chumming for lawsuits. The Internet Archive's lending library announcement (which encompasses a whopping 187 titles) is "a declaration of war on barriers, to fair use of digitized books," says blogger Eric Hellman, who suggests Brewster Kahle's strategy of "fair use creep" is aimed at provoking publishers into taking legal action. "It looks to me as though the Archive is setting a trap, hoping that someone will take the bait and file a lawsuit despite problematic subject matter."

Brewster has often done things at the Internet Archive that are the equivalent of hanging out a sign saying " So sue me (dare you!)." Whether IA's most recent announcement is as Machiavellian as Eric suggests is debatable but credible. ( 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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