OCLC Research  

Above the Fold

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

January 7, 2011
Vol. 4, No. 1
ISSN: 1943-1457

Dear readers,

Best wishes to you all in 2011! (Do you say Two Thousand Eleven? Or Twenty Eleven? We like the former.) Before disappearing into this issue and a new year's work I want to recommend to you one final 2010 item in lieu of a bunch of pointers to "top" lists summarizing the year's events. It's a post from one of my favorite blogs Brain Pickings in which six very talented visualization artists created works illustrating the ten most popular articles of 2010 in Brain Pickings. All the visualizations are wonderful and the articles referenced are enormously interesting. Click and you'll be captivated.

Jim Michalko

In this issue:


The Shatzkin Files  (External site)

The Idea Logical Company   •  December 23, 2010

Reinventing the book market. Mike Shatzkin suggests one way publishers could tackle the challenges of marketing digital titles is the creation of a "book marketing app" that would alert readers to new offerings in selected ebook genres. Such "alert apps" could play a valuable role in future electronic outreach strategies.

Shatzkin is always interesting on the future of publishing and the shift to e-publication. In this case his 2011 wish for a curated catalog of recently-published material on a particular topic ought to be one that the academic library could make happen. I imagine most academics would love to have this kind of personalized service. A most interesting reference to a Web site— Peroozal—that's trying to offer this kind of service showed up in the comments. Worth a look. ( Michalko)


Signal, Curation, Discovery  (External site)

John Battelle's Searchblog   •  December 11, 2010

From Yahoo to Tumblr. John Battelle sums up the history of search and social media in the context of discovery—evolving from "how do I find a site" to "how do I find interesting people." His latest interest is Tumblr, which he describes as a blending of "the best of self expression (Facebook and blogging platforms) with the best of curation (Twitter and RSS)." It's still unclear whether Tumblr is the new Twitter, but Battelle is hopeful it will solve another important discovery problem—"how do I find someone to follow who has smart things to say about my industry?"

I am obviously so 2008. I didn't get Tumblr. Acknowledging that Battelle is correct about the discovery problem I still got shivers imagining that I might soon have to learn to Tumble. ( Michalko)


How to Find Answers Within Your Company  (External site)

MIT Sloan Management Review   •  December 14, 2010

Knowledge markets. It's not who you know that counts—it's how you find the person who knows what you need to know. That's the difference between traditional knowledge management and internal knowledge markets, according to the authors of this article, who studied knowledge markets for a decade and applied economic theory to come up with recommendations on how to foster better information exchange in an organizational setting.

I didn't know much about knowledge markets before reviewing this article. The key insights I took away are that this approach requires scale within the enterprise, centralized management doesn't work, and that spendable currency motivates participation more than any other factor including personal reputation. Contribution and continuing participation are necessary conditions for success. Considering these key insights it is not a surprise that institutional repositories have fallen so short of our aspirations. ( Michalko)


IBM's Top Five Predictions for 2015  (External site)

Kurzweil's Accelerating Intelligence   •  December 24, 2010

Big Blue's crystal ball. Futurist Ray Kurzweil provides a succinct summary of IBM's "Five in Five" predictions, including mobile battalions of sensor-equipped "citizen scientists," holographic data visualization, energy scavenging electronic devices and more.

Worth a look. 3-D holograms of your friends in real time? In five years? This from IBM. This (perhaps) from Microsoft's Mr. Gates: we always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. (I can't verify this was said by Bill Gates. It is often attributed to him. If it were funnier we'd probably attribute it to Mark Twain or Yogi Berra.) ( Michalko)


The Information Palace  (External site)

The New York Review of Books   •  December 8, 2010

Word play. James Gleick offers this brief, entertaining overview of the etymology of the word "information." The title refers to the expansion of its Oxford English Dictionary definition, from a couple of short phrases to a whopping 9,400 words—chronicling information's rise as "an adventure in cultural history."

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)


Counting on Google Books  (External site)

The Chronicle of Higher Education   •  December 16, 2010

More word play. A recent study, "Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books," published in Science, applies the power of advanced analytics to linguistics, using the massive corpus of Google Books—some 360 billion words in English alone. The result is a new terminology called "culturomics" (with a long "o" like genomics), which traces the trajectories of individual word usage over the last 200 years.

This swept through the Web on its day of release. It's hard to imagine you haven't read either this article by Geoffrey Nunberg (arguably the most famous linguist in the USA because of his 23 year stint on National Public Radio) or the New York Times article or even the actual Science article (available with free registration). Even harder to imagine that you didn't play with the n-gram viewer for hours. Apropos the OED article above, here's the Google Books n-gram graph for " information." ( Michalko)


Above the Fold Quiz:

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, what is the title of the recently issued book coauthored by Lynn Silipigni Connaway and Ronald R. Powell?

Click here to find the answer.


News and Views

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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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