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Above the Fold

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

September 17, 2010
Vol. 3, No. 32
ISSN: 1943-1457

In this issue:


Get In the Goddamn Wagon  (External site)

Shimenawa   •  September 1, 2010

Mapping the future. Digital library veteran Peter Brantley says that all the talk about "the future of the library" is just high-falutin' conjecture on the part of library directors talking amongst themselves. It's time for next-gen librarians to grab hold of the reins and steer toward a common vision that could be realized in their lifetimes.

I understand from where Brantley comes in this call to arms. But I think his suggested solution (get leaders under the AUL level in a room somewhere) is misguided. Besides being ageist, these are the very people without the wherewithal to implement anything that comes out of such a meeting. And as one commenter put it, "age does not dictate the nature of one's ideas." But like I said, I understand his motivation and I agree that we need to find ways to revolutionize libraries. Our ambitious research agenda in partnership with research libraries, museums, and archives is not the complete solution, but it's certainly a step in the right direction. ( Tennant)


Hire Great Guessers  (External site)

Harvard Business Review   •  September 2, 2010

Basic instincts. ReputationDefender CEO Michael Fertik says with analytics playing a greater role in business strategy decision making, it's important to hire "the best guessers"—people who can make the most intelligent use of what those analytics reveal. "Good guessers know what is worth investigating in the first place. And they have strong instincts—usually coupled with a knack for scrappy, lightning-fast research—into where the best bets lie." Read on for how to spot good guessers.

Analytics aren't about you; they are about your users. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn about how they come to your site, what they do there, and how satisfied they are. But first you must have some sense that what you're offering is wanted. Then let the guessers loose on premises and ways to test them in order to make it better. Good analytics can't make a bad offering good. The real challenge: finding good guessers is hard—you'll probably want a guesser to do it. ( Erway)


Don't Become a Digital Dinosaur: Design for the Space Between  (External site)

UX Magazine   •  August 24, 2010

Common scents. UX Magazine's Samantha Starmer says a comprehensive communications strategy requires a holistic approach to information architecture that addresses "the space between" user touchpoints: "Creating the design and interactions of an engaging experience is only one piece of the customer experience puzzle. We also have to think about providing information scent across experiences and touchpoints. There need to be clues and cues for our customers that are clear and consistent, and that entice them toward their desired outcome."

There is a bit of anecdata in this article about the author's disappointment when unable to change her seat on a flight from her iPhone or iPad. I wondered what she was, at that moment, "between." Not between networks, with 3G or Wi-Fi available. But she was distant; separate from the one customer experience for which the airline had a design. For competitive, commercial enterprises like airlines, that will surely change soon. Will it at the same pace for libraries? And as it does, will our systems pay attention to the design patterns that succeed for other enterprises, or, better yet, participate in their creation? ( Washburn)


Doctorow's First Law  (External site)

Publisher's Weekly   •  August 2, 2010

DRM drama. Author Cory Doctorow meets resistance from Sony and Apple in his quest for DRM-free e-publishing options. Doctorow's observation: "When it comes to which restrictions copyright law should place on e-book readers, the copyright proprietor—whether the author or the publisher—should call the shots, not the retailers."

Doctorow, co-editor of the popular Boing Boing blog, is a known activist for liberalizing copyright laws. All of his science fiction novels are published under a Creative Commons License. The encouraging aspect of his recent experience: he persuaded Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo to offer his e-books without any technology or license conditions that would prevent his readers from moving the e-book they've purchased to a competitor's device. Doctorow's First Law: "Any time someone puts a lock on something that belongs to you, and won't give you a key, they're not doing it for your benefit." ( Smith-Yoshimura)


Every Reader a Reviewer: The Online Book Conversation  (External site)

Library Journal   •  September 1, 2010

Re-viewing reviewers. As stand-alone book review publications dwindle, the online version is flourishing. But who are the people writing these reviews? Are they experienced literary critics or merely enthusiastic readers sharing their opinions? And does it matter?

The evolving nature of book reviews in the online environment—who writes them, who reads them, and for what purpose—mirrors the democratization of all forms of communication in the Internet age. As print publications decline and blogs and social media Web sites multiply and flourish, book lovers find themselves confronted with a cacophony of voices seeking to be heard and a noisy mob of choices trying to elbow their way to the front. This essay from Library Journal does a nice job of teasing out the ways in which folks with different intentions find value in today's vexing array of approaches to criticizing books. It will come as no surprise that there's still a place for the well-edited piece by an expert, while there's also more likelihood than ever that you'll bump into "the raw energy and engagement of a writer unleashed," unexpectedly, just behind that next link in your Google search result. ( Massie)


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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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