The 14 Biggest Ideas of the Year

The Atlantic • July 2011

Ready or not. Peruse this grab bag of expert prognostications on everything from politics to the economy to social issues. These trends will color our future decision-making, whether we like it or not.

What's to be said? An intelligent medley worth scanning. (Well, you could ask, why 14?) ( Michalko)

Community: A New Business Model for News

Nieman Reports (Harvard University) • Summer 2011

Being social. Public Radio International VP Michael Skoler articulates the difference between audience and community, bolstered by examples of community-based success stories like Angie's List and Groupon. Although Skoler's comments are geared toward news organizations, his observations on the power of communities apply to many other organizations.

It's worth considering the scale of the successful models pointed at in this article—they are Web-scale. Despite having natural communities, the library has had very modest success at mobilizing the people who are the enthusiasts. I believe that failure stems from having thought about our community through a local lens. While we've worked hard at creating interesting environments and outreach, the book lovers have found one another elsewhere in Web-scale environments— Goodreads, LibraryThing and others. ( Michalko)

Welcome to the Age of the Customer: Invest Accordingly

Forrester Research • June 6, 2011

Focus on the customer. Rather than battling industry rivals, our competitive landscape revolves around attracting and holding our patrons' attention, but some of the recommendations in the recent Forrester Research report, "Competitive Strategy in the Age of the Customer," may help sharpen our customer-centric focus.

Absolutely. Both Lorcan and I have argued ( here and here for instance) that the "unbundling" of the library should result in it embracing a customer relationship management expertise. The distinctive deliverable will be your knowledge of the client. ( Michalko)

Digital Love?

Hub Magazine • May/June 2011

Beware techno-fever. Results from a survey of retail shoppers indicate the evolution of the digital consumer is happening more slowly than hype would indicate—something to keep in mind as we transition toward more online services. While digital publishing appears to be on the same trajectory as music and entertainment, there is still a significant portion of library patrons who will never tweet or have a Facebook page.

And we shouldn't take a lot of comfort from the persistence of the traditional patron because the avidness of the connected is the ascendant characteristic. I'll bet the pattern of external guides consulted before the shopping excursion is very similar to all the online investigations that occur before any physical trip to the library. ( Michalko)

Why Sharing Failures Can Speed Up Innovation

Knowledge@Wharton Today • June 17, 2011

Lessons learned. It's natural to want to tout your successes but failures can be instructive, too. One former Merck executive estimates the pharmaceutical industry could save as much as $7 billion a year if they shared information on early stage failures. As organizations seek to accelerate their innovation efforts, finding out what hasn't worked in the past can save significant time and money.

We don't have the venues in our community for sharing our failures nor the culture that honors the kind of plain speaking that would be essential for this kind of sharing. Should you think the only place where revealed failures would benefit is big Pharma, there was a good NYTimes article about why science struggles to correct its mistakes recently. No credit given for replication studies is the short answer. ( Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, what are three emergent trends in global higher education?

Get the answer.