How Do You Solve a Problem Like Clay Shirky? Or, Silicon Valley Discovers Impact Factor

Scholarly Kitchen • June 28, 2011

We are what we tweet. Blogger David Smith cites a New York Times article that suggested we may each be assigned a rank on an "influence index" based on the number of our Facebook connections and Twitter followers. Companies may then use those ratings to offer higher-ranked "influencers" anything from upgrades to free samples at the supermarket. But we all know that there's a lot more to our spheres of influence than "short form" social network links—before you dismiss this nonsense out of hand, check out this article and think about how "long form" influence might be used as a countermeasure.

The urge to distill and rank is quite broad across all of the Web. And I have an increasing number of colleagues who are sensitized to their ranking whether it's impact scores or Klout. We've done a lot of work around Research Assessment and can confirm that the same urge to distill and rank is beginning to rule in higher education. Our former colleague did a nice synthesis of the state of things in a report called Supporting Research: Environments, Administration and Libraries ( pdf). ( Michalko)

The Rebellion Against the Book: College Students 2011

Swans Commentary • June 6, 2011

Evolution, devolution or revolution? Author Jonah Raskin's essay starts off with a bang: "The spring of 2011 will go down in the annals of American education as the semester that college students stopped reading books." Whether or not the timing is correct, Raskin's description of the evolving world of alliterates has the ring of truth for anyone familiar with 20-something culture.

There's an assertion in this short, slightly wistful and melancholic essay that the "alliterates" don't have a book that defines their generation. That doesn't seem right. They probably do but we don't regard it as sufficiently worthy. Witness the worry and concern expressed by that group around the filming of The Hunger Games. ( Michalko)

Creative Thinking for Small Business—Part 5

Marketing Confessions • June 23, 2011

Mind control. How many random but intriguing ideas do you dream up or come across in your reading over a year's time? Creativity expert Michael Michalko shares his secrets for collecting and organizing these ideas so you can retrieve and use them for problem-solving inspiration.

Okay, this is here mostly because we share an uncommon last name. In fact my brother and he have the exact same name. And my brother wishes that some of that Internet ranking mentioned earlier from the famous creativity expert would attach to him. ( Michalko)

Why the Best Innovations Are About Relevance, Not Invention • June 21, 2011

Step by step. Virginia Postrel once observed that "The most successful innovations are the ones that we stop noticing almost immediately," and innovation expert Gabor George Burt explains why. Read on for examples of incremental innovation that yielded big results.

And in that vein my partner said to me while staring at Google Maps on her iPhone, "I've lost my sense of wonder about that little blinking blue ball. Too bad." ( Michalko)

Collecting with a Vengeance

More Intelligent Life/The Economist • June 28, 2011

Treasure trove. The University of Texas at Austin's Harry Ransom Center's current exhibition, " Culture Unbound: Collecting in the Twenty-First Century", pays tribute to its "tireless hunt for archives that will capture the imagination, invigorate scholarly research, and deepen our understanding of culture." Check out this profile of Center director Tom Staley, whose recruiting tactics have garnered an impressive collection of authors' personal papers, including notebooks, correspondence and manuscripts from the estates of Norman Mailer, David Foster Wallace, David Mamet and Don DeLillo.

Those of you in the research library world will certainly know the Ransom Center. This is interesting because it's written from the UK perspective where British resentment at being bested for acquisitions by the deep-pocketed Texans has never been well-disguised. So, good on The Economist to recommend the current exhibition there. ( Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, what are today's library users looking to libraries to provide, beyond just answers to quesitons?

Get the answer.