OCLC Research  

Above the Fold

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

August 20, 2010
Vol. 3, No. 28
ISSN: 1943-1457

In this issue:


Metadata, Not E-Books, Can Save Publishing  (External site)

O'Reilly TOC—Tools of Change for Publishing   •  July 29, 2010

Needles in haystacks. "E-books will not revolutionize reading, nor will they change the content," says metadata enthusiast Nick Ruffilo. Reading on a screen rather than paper will not create new markets, but better metadata on each book could allow readers to find more of what they like, regardless of format: "If every book had this data, you could essentially have an eHarmony for books. You fill out a small profile of your likes and dislikes and now are shown a much smaller set of books to choose from."

Not surprising but interesting to hear coming from somebody who was an early innovator in recommendation systems. It also confirms what we've known for a long-time about library descriptive data—it's a crude tool for the task of getting people more of what they want. Our "tags" are tough to mobilize for that purpose. For a really good effort in this regard check out WorldCat Genres from my colleague, Diane Vizine-Goetz and her team in OCLC Research. ( Michalko)


Tyler Cowen on Information  (External site)

Five Books   •  July 31, 2010

Literary voyeurism. Economist and writer Tyler Cowen shares his "best five books on everything"—from Shirky to Hesse. This is an interesting mix of light and dark, digestible and dense, old and new. It's always fascinating to see what's on somebody's bookshelf.

This is an interesting take on important books about information. You are probably familiar with all of them. For my part I was unfamiliar with the site where this article originated— Five Books—where every day someone of eminence chooses and defends the five best books in their special field of interest. It's now on my feed reader. They've picked needles out of the haystacks that they know intimately. ( Michalko)


The Difference Engine: Rewiring the Brain  (External site)

The Economist   •  August 6, 2010

Think different. We're not thinking more shallowly, says The Economist's Babbage blog—we're thinking differently. "What makes people intelligent is their ability to learn and reason—in short, to adapt and thrive within their environment. That fundamental capacity has not changed in thousands of years, and is unlikely to do so because some new technology comes along, whether television, mobile phones or the Internet." Read on for more commentary on Nicholas Carr's latest book, The Shallows.

Another challenge to the notion that the Internet is rewiring us in unproductive and damaging ways. If it is then we ought to be able to see what it's physically doing to us, which was the topic for this engaging report about a wilderness outing of brain scientists— Outdoors and Out of Reach, Studying the Brain. ( Michalko)


The Willpower Paradox  (External site)

Scientific American   •  July 2010

Inquiring minds. A recent study shows that people who solidly commit to a task—from word games to weight loss—are often less successful than those who are more neutral. University of Illinois psychologist Ibrahim Senay suggests that his experiments indicate that "those with questioning minds were more intrinsically motivated to change." The study's results have implications for everything from creative problem-solving to addiction treatment.

Worth trying in a meeting—"Will we?" or "We will." See if it makes a difference. How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Just one but the light bulb really has to want . . . ( Michalko)


The Music Copyright Enforcers  (External site)

The New York Times   •  August 6, 2010

A day in the life. Even though most people, when surveyed, agree that music artists should get paid for their work, the process of collecting can be harrowing. If loaded guns and hate mail threats are par for the course, that doesn't bode well for monetizing other digital content. BMI licensing executive Devon Baker offers this survival tip—never eat at the venue where you're trying to collect, because "God only knows what they might put in your food."

I certainly hated DRM on my digital music but this is different. Surprises in this article: both BMI and ASCAP are not-for-profits with a special congressional exemptions; the Blue Arrow technology (like your iPhone's Shazam app) that can listen to Internet sites as well as radio and TV stations around the world and identify where and how often a particular piece of music is being played. Eek. ( 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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