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Above the Fold

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

January 31, 2011
Vol. 4, No. 4
ISSN: 1943-1457

In this issue:


Inside the Paradox of Forecasting  (External site)

Boston Globe   •  January 9, 2011

Outlook hazy. Forecasting is a fool's errand, according to two economists who analyzed their colleagues' predictions between 2002 and 2005 and found "economists who had a better record at calling extreme events had a worse record in general." It turns out that forecasting is somewhat "like the proverbial broken clock that is right twice a day"—something to keep in mind when reading all those "Top Ten" predictions for the coming decade.

This article rightly describes what will happen to you if you read too many business self-help books. It also gave me the useful insight that success is a bad teacher because it's a "noisy signal." ( Michalko)


Want Breakthrough Innovation? Then Don't Listen to Your Customers  (External site)

Innovation Tools   •  January 12, 2011

What do customers know? Innovation expert Jeffrey Baumgartner says poorly executed customer-centric business strategy (he points to customer surveys) is unlikely to produce a significant breakthrough innovation. Citing examples ranging from Facebook to the Ford Model T, Baumgartner says the most successful innovative products are "radical ideas that have often made it to market as the result of the vision and drive of a determined individual." Baumgartner's message reminds us that there's a right way and a wrong way to listen to our customers.

So if you're really good at listening to your clients this will be a useful leavening. I'm afraid it's much more likely to be used to justify the "I know what's best for you" approach and position it as commitment to innovation. In fact Apple was wrong about the Newton. That the iPad is a winner doesn't change that earlier attempt. ( Michalko)


Design Research and Innovation: An Interview with Don Norman  (External site)

Johnny Holland Magazine   •  January 11, 2011

Designing ecosystems. Design guru Don Norman echoes many of Baumgartner's observations about radical vs. incremental innovation, and offers advice on designing ecosystems—systems that address every aspect of offering a product or service, "from when the person first hears about it . . . to the end-of-life experience." As we strategize ways to incorporate e-products into our offerings, Norman's vision offers guidance on designing a coherent, seamless user experience from start to finish.

Don Norman is a design hero and his observations are always interesting. And his affect is charming. Watch him at TED. In this interview he provides the most helpful advice about how to read the book he has just finished reading Why the West Rules—for Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future . They made me want to purchase the pieces. ( Michalko)


Andrew Gelman on Statistics  (External site)

The Browser   •  January 2011

Pro choices. Columbia professor Andrew Gelman recommends five books that touch on probability, patterns and the psychology of decision-making, ranging from baseball statistics to the art of flimflam to animal physiology. This is an engaging interview, posted on a Web site full of interesting reading.

A terrific bundle of books described captivatingly. Five more books I should read. WorldCat should have all these bundles in lists. ; ) Here's a link to the one he declares " a fun read." ( Michalko)


What Went Wrong at Borders  (External site)

The Atlantic   •  January 11, 2011

Fatal flaw. Publisher Peter Osnos gives a quick overview of bookstore-management-gone-wrong, which Osnos traces to Borders' sale to Kmart in 1991. From that point on, a series of executives with backgrounds in department store and supermarket management repeatedly missed opportunities to adapt to changing markets and technologies, as Borders sales fell further behind rivals Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Read on for Osnos's conclusions on the importance of passion in steering a company through changing times.

Short and clear-eyed about the downward spiral that predates the more general and devastating challenge of ebooks. ( Michalko)


12 Technologies on the Verge of Extinction  (External site)

Gizmodo   •  January 12, 2011

Winners and losers. Check out Gizmodo's list of losers—e-readers are No. 3. Meanwhile, land lines, combustible engines and PCs are on the survivor list.

Dead by 2020. Shouldn't the list be longer? Thankfully they did not mention the codex. ( Michalko)


Above the Fold Quiz:

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, what standard is used by the new mapFAST Web Service?

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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