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Above the Fold

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

December 3, 2010
Vol. 3, No. 42
ISSN: 1943-1457

In this issue:


Why You Should Focus on "Worst Practices"  (External site)

Harvard Business Review   •  November 17, 2010

Getting in touch with the dark side. There's always room for improvement, but where to start? Here are some suggestions on how to examine your organization's shortcomings and improve on "business as usual."

I'm a fan of Umair Haque and this is the kind of short but unnerving post I've come to expect. His short list of how to discover your "worst practices" is right on. And some of his remedies seem so common-sense that they will certainly be passed over. "Spend a day in the trenches"—not likely unless you're on Undercover Boss (which I also love). "Diet on your own dogfood"—not likely you'll find a master of the universe restricting his investments to the junk he sells but you can bet Steve Jobs types his e-mails on an Apple. ( Michalko)


The Future of Paywalls: Microtransactions, Buy-Ins and Content War  (External site)

CrunchGear   •  November 19, 2010

Beyond free. Digital content creators and publishers are scrambling for ways to realistically monetize their product, but they face large-scale resistance from a public that is used to information being free. Blogger Devin Coldewey offers an overview of possible future payment models, along with the caveat that most payment systems are still too complicated for the average Web user to tolerate.

So much of the future of news and creative content on the Web will depend on moving beyond the advertising model, what's offered here is a litany of alternatives pasted together into a "system." The opening discussion of "micropayments" could have been written (and was) in the late '90s, i.e. "people will pay for articles when they are as easy to purchase and cheap as a can of Coke." We're still not there but as the first commenter observes the very successful "adult" industry has implemented all of what is described here. ( Michalko)


On the Certain Economics of Relegating Paper Books to the Margins of the Business  (External site)

Forrester Research   •  November 16, 2010

Sea change. James McQuivey amplifies on his earlier forecast that the digital publishing revolution will occur much more quickly than its music and video counterparts. The reason, he says, is not that bibliophiles will cling to their precious books (although he acknowledges that there's a portion of the reading public who will never pick up an electronic device). It's that as ebook sales begin to dominate the bottom line, "publishers will think of their eBook strategy first. Paper decisions will be made as an adjunct to digital decisions."

Nice to have a commentator directly take on the book as irreplaceable artifact argument. As he says he wishes he had a dime for every time he heard a similar argument from newspaper publishers. This post is a rejoinder and continuation of his post featured in last week's ATF about Why the Book Business May Soon Be the Most Digital of All Media Industries. Forrester Research produces stuff that needs to be taken seriously. ( Michalko)


One World Publishing, Brought to You by the Internet  (External site)

Scholarly Kitchen   •  November 17, 2010

Globalization blues. The high cost of shipping hardcopy has prevented consumers from purchasing less expensive books abroad, but the ebook market is pushing the publishing industry toward one-world pricing. Blogger Joseph Esposito warns of the unintended consequences, such as increasing clout of U.S. publishers over smaller markets such as the UK, Australia and India, which in turn likely will fuel the acquisition of those smaller publishers.

Joseph Esposito is another not to be ignored when the topic is publishing. He echoes the post above. Big and digital will win even while we mourn but still have increasingly expensive access to the handcrafted. A small sidelong factoid that I acquired in this post was that the Harry Potter books have different titles in their UK and US editions. I suppose if I'd read them rather than waiting for the movies I'd have been aware. ( Michalko)


Saving Our Data from Digital Decay  (External site)

Science Daily   •  November 23, 2010

Analog answer to digital obsolescence. Researchers in Germany and Austria are suggesting a variation on the barcode to convert microfilm data into an analog format that could provide an additional safeguard to current digitization efforts. The barcode system "would incorporate redundancy and be self-checking unlike a straight digital to analogue image scan of the text."

OMG. Microfilm. Better renew the lease on the vaults in the limestone cave. ( Michalko)


Above the Fold Quiz:

According to a news item in this week's Above the Fold, where was Merritt developed?

Click here for the answer.


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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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