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Above the Fold

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

April 4, 2011
Vol. 4, No. 13
ISSN: 1943-1457

In this issue:


Can There Really Be TMI?  (External site)

Zocalo Public Square   •  March 15, 2011

Conflicted. These brief opinion pieces by Cheshire Coye, David Weinberger, Jakob Nielsen, Andrea Resmini and Ann Blair span the spectrum on the information overload issue. Is more always better? Are we drowning or do we just have an organization problem?

I like Jakob Nielsen's take on the question—fight information pollution and teach computer skills that embody critical thinking. ( Michalko)


Why Curation is Just as Important as Creation  (External site)

Mashable Op-Ed   •  March 17, 2011

Value added. Curator Steven Rosenbaum looks at the different sides of content creation vs. curation debate, citing opinions from Andrew Blau (the real issue is access to an audience), Seth Godin (the real issue is an attention shortage), Mark Cuban (the real issue is content aggregators are bloodsuckers) and Robert Scoble (the real issue is filtering the information firehose).

A nicely formed entry that captures the popular notion of "curation" and its value to the information economy. In our domain we've seen this verb wander into the vernacular and on into colloquial overuse. Take a look at the Google n-gram of curation. Rarely used before 1960 and since—wow. Of course it's the opposite with "curate." All those nineteenth-century novels and pamphlets featuring churchmen. ( Michalko)


A Memory of Webs Past  (External site)

IEEE Spectrum   •  March 2011

Preservation blues. The history and headaches of Heretrix—Web archiving software developed in 2004—are detailed in this description of the French National Library's efforts to archive the .fr domain. Read it for a fuller understanding of how archiving engines work, and why they're constantly playing catch-up with digital content trends.

A good article with just enough detail for an interested professional to comprehend the difficulties in Web harvesting. We hear more about Brewster Kahle and the Internet Archive who birthed the harvester at the center of this article. When Brewster helped establish the International Internet Preservation Consortium eight years ago, he had hoped the national libraries would lead the charge. "Frankly, they've failed," he says now. And I agree with him. In the absence of properly coordinated and understood Web archiving at the national level we now have a bundle of institutionally-based efforts that treat Web archiving like paper-based ephemera collecting. This is a service that needs to be done at a supra-institutional scale for economy, integrity and longevity. ( Michalko)


Free Your Staff to Think  (External site)

Harvard Business Review   •  March 17, 2011

The downside of DIY. Downsizing has left many organizations increasingly relying on self-service information management, but as anyone who's booked their own travel arrangements knows, that strategy offers a false promise of economy. Business consultant Richard McDermott notes that the real costs of managing information have "risen as they shifted from lower-cost administrative staff to professionals—hidden in the salaries of professional staff who start early, stay late and spend weekends checking e-mail, searching, answering questions on discussion boards and organizing documents." Sound familiar?

I find the central observation in this essay to be absolutely true for me and all those with whom I work. Self-service masks the way in which transaction costs have been distributed to individuals at personal cost and created economic distortion within enterprises. My colleagues, Lorcan Dempsey and Brian Lavoie, have been using the concept of transaction costs (the effort required to perform the steps necessary to achieving a goal) to think about libraries and library service since at least 2004. Most recently Lorcan talked about it at the Top Tech Trends session at the last ALA Annual meeting. Here's his blog entry on that appearance. ( Michalko)


Innovation Opportunity: Turn Products into Services  (External site)

Innovation Tools   •  March 9, 2011

At your service. Companies are getting creative in their drive to offer services that either enhance or replace physical products. Although the examples cited are not really a match for our market, they may offer some inspiration for rethinking our business strategy to adapt to customer needs in the future . . .

It seems to me that support for personal collection building is the way to recast our skills as a service. Take those transaction costs mentioned above out of the work of building personal collections. Just another way of repeating Dan Chudnov's famous casting of his professional mission as a librarian: Help people build their own libraries. ( Michalko)


Above the Fold Quiz:

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, what is the difference between a digital resident and digital visitor?

Click here to find 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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