OCLC Research  

Above the Fold

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

April 11, 2011
Vol. 4, No. 14
ISSN: 1943-1457

In this issue:


The Vexed Problems of Libraries, Publishers and E-books  (External site)

Scholarly Kitchen   •  March 21, 2011

Metadata rules. As libraries and publishers grapple with the complexities of forging a new relationship for the eBook market, this article sums up nicely a number of the issues still to be worked out. Case in point: "Whoever controls the metadata, controls the marketplace." Read on for some thought-provoking suggestions on how libraries could position themselves more strategically.

I wonder how many public libraries offer eBooks for sale direct from the OPAC? While purchase-on-demand is slowly being introduced in some academic libraries, that seems quite a different dynamic than using the library as a possible promotional vehicle. My friend and colleague, Dan Greenstein, has proposed that academic libraries should not buy anything that is available on the commodity Internet—"Invest in the general uniquely, the unique generally" (see slide 25, Next Generation Library Solutions: Shared Services and Beyond [.pdf]). ( Michalko)


Steal this E-book  (External site)

Forbes   •  March 23, 2011

Provocative prognosticator. Publisher Tim O'Reilly says piracy is good for publishing because it's a popularity predictor: the more often a work is pirated, the more likely it is to be paid for as well. Read this interview for a stimulating discussion of the future of e-publishing, the demise of DRM and why Amazon rules.

O'Reilly publishes on topics that are targeted at a pretty narrow and specialized audience—the technology professional and expert enthusiast. In that target there probably are 10,000 users who need what's being published immediately and are ready to pay and don't have the time or inclination to go find the pirate copy. Professional publishing seems more like financial information while trade publishing seems more like music. ( Michalko)


Lunch with Hal  (External site)

Think Quarterly   •  Issue No. 1

Data as food. Google Chief Economist Hal Varian says businesses and governments need to make better use of the vast quantities of data they collect. Check out Varian's recommendations on a smarter data diet that focuses on quality rather than quantity to cure the current data obesity epidemic.

He was right about statisticians being the next sexy job (at least out here in the Bay Area) and I suspect he's right about the focus shifting to quality now that quantity and the ability to manipulate these massive amounts has been achieved. That we're not thinking about it this way is evidenced in the tragically abbreviated recent US census. ( Michalko)


'Gamifying' the System to Create Better Behavior  (External site)

NPR   •  March 27, 2011

Just rewards. Gamification is serious business, says Gabe Zichermann, co-author of Game-Based Marketing, which explores ways that games can be used to encourage desired behaviors. What really motivates people is SAPS—Status, Access, Power and Stuff—so think about ways your organization can adapt this strategy to boost visibility and customer satisfaction.

As buzzwords go, it's incredibly ugly, isn't it? Strikes me the process has some truth to it but the range of products and markets to which it can be extended is bounded, although those who work within the academy know that at least SA and P are the air that's breathed. For the five buzzwords that need to go click here. ( Michalko)


Necessity, not Scarcity, is the Mother of Invention  (External site)

Harvard Business Review   •  March 25, 2011

Pound-foolish. Creativity is born out of a passion to problem-solve and fueled by funding. The authors remind us that even in tough times, scrimping on the R&D budget can be an innovation-killer that forces inventors to concentrate on finding money, rather than the next big thing.

The distinction between scarcity and constraint that's made in this brief essay seems like a useful one to me. Being constrained to focus on a challenging target can induce creativity. Artificial constraint (which shows up in many forms in normal corporate behaviors) can lead only to creativity at finding resources. ( Michalko)


Biblio Tech: Curation Nation — Fall of the Machines  (External site)

Wired   •  March 25, 2011

In praise of people power. Steven Rosenbaum, author of Curation Nation, says the only truly effective information filter is another human: "Social search has replaced automated feeds. I sort of think Google will be out." Even if you don't buy the book, the review is worth a scan.

There's quantitative evidence again and again that, in Dan Chudnov's phrase, "people are the entry point." For instance, this recent paper at First Monday: "To that end, it is significant that respondents reported using friends and family in their everyday life information-seeking process. The students we studied turned to friends and family more than they did Wikipedia. More than four-fifths of the respondents asked friends and/or family when they needed help evaluating sources for personal use. This finding suggests students use a hybrid information-seeking strategy that blends online sources (e.g., Wikipedia) with off-line sources, such as people that they know." ( Michalko)


Above the Fold Quiz:

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, what is the OCLC Research Library Partnership?

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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