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Above the Fold

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

December 22, 2010
Vol. 3, No. 45
ISSN: 1943-1457

Dear readers,

This is the last ATF of calendar 2010. All of us at OCLC Research value your attention and appreciate that some of it is directed at our efforts. We wish you all the best for the new year.

Jim Michalko

In this issue:


Pedagogical Spaces, or, What We've Lost in the Post-Video-Store Era  (External site)

Media Fields Journal   •  Issue 1

In defense of specialists. University of Florida professor and video store owner Roger Beebe takes issue with David Weinberger's treatise in Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder that traditional ways of organizing content—particularly media content—are past their prime. Beebe cites the U. of Florida's shelving system, which assigns consecutive numbers to DVDs based on acquisition date, rather than genre or nationality or other obvious criteria. The bottom line is a renewed call for the "gatekeepers" who organize and manage our troves of knowledge and culture.

A thought-provoking post especially when we consider all the energy being channeled into re-conceiving the library as space. There's a bit of the pedagogue showing throughout the essay but, hey, he's a professor. I think he sets up an erroneous argument for curated browsing by comparing his store with the accession ordering of media at the U of Florida Libraries. I think you expect to browse in a store while known item retrieval rules the library inventory. ( Michalko)


Why Paris?  (External site)

Humanities   •  November/December 2010

For Francophiles. New Criterion editor James Panero traces the evolution of artistic creativity in turn-of-the-century Paris from the neighborhoods of Montmartre to Montparnasse. Viewed through the lens of Jane Jacobs's The Economy of Cities, Panero suggests the migration of artists like Picasso and Braque reflects a shift in conditions essential for innovation—"cross-fertilization of ideas across different industries and a density of small firms in local competition with one another . . . " This article focuses on a specific bygone era, but offers broader ideas on ways to nurture an innovative climate.

Not really for Francophiles only. This is a short essay about " knowledge spillover" in urban settings and what others have called the geography of innovation. It's a model that has gotten applied in various analyses of Silicon Valley but it's a characteristic dynamic of cities here applied to early 20th century avant garde art. ( Michalko)


Lots of Markets, Lots of Business Models  (External site)

Go to Hellman   •  December 7, 2010

The future is foggy. Eric Hellman makes the case that "predicting what will happen to the book industry in its shift to digital by looking at music is like making predictions about the Soviet Union by looking at Germany." Instead of a massive market shift, Hellman sees a splintering of the industry into smaller fragments that exploit the most successful business model for each.

Good observations once again from Eric. Books release different types of value and each value will have a business model that is superior to its type. As for the Soviet Union reference you may recall an ATF item in which Clay Shirky asserted that books are like Russia not Poland. Eric makes a case for some books being Estonian. ( Michalko)


The 70 Online Databases that Define Our Planet  (External site)

Technology Review   •  December 3, 2010

Earth Watch. Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have compiled a list of databases containing information on climate, health, finance, economic and other issues. Their goal is to extract the data and use it to fuel a " living Earth simulator." Peruse this list for the next time you need to come up with some quick statistics on a wide range of planetary measures.

At the recent CNI meeting, Cliff Lynch mentioned this project in his opening overview. It was brought up in the context of how important simulation and modeling have become to science. We now have the data, much of it being shared, and we have the computational capacities. ( Michalko)


Wikileaks and Amazon Web Services: Some Thoughts  (External site)

Tumblr.com-Media and Technology   •  December 2010

Who owns the cloud? Newsweek Digital manager Joseph Galarneau warns that using Amazon Web Services puts customers at risk for arbitrary shutdown, at Amazon's discretion. With the cloud computing business model offering an attractive alternative to in-house IT operations, organizations that opt to go that route should understand that they're relinquishing primary control over their content.

Free speech expectations and private commerce are bound to bump up against one another. This is a high-profile bump demonstrating that Amazon controls the printing press. ( Michalko)


What We Have Here Is One of the Great Comeback Stories in the History of Competitive Punctuation  (External site)

National Post   •  November 30, 2010

Save the octothorpe. The humble "hash" mark has been granted a new lease on life, thanks to Twitter. If you're a punctuation geek, read on for amusing conjecture on the possible origins of the mark's unusual name.

The Twitter hashtag is just the most recent re-purposing of the mark. Actually the origins of the mark's name aren't quite as broad as this blog post purports. We discussed it in relation to an earlier ATF article and found that the MIT archives have some relevant information about it that they've made available online. ( Michalko)


Above the Fold Quiz:

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, what was the previous name of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California?

Click here to find the answer.


News and Views

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