The Year of the Multitaskers' Revenge

The New York Times • December 31, 2011

Regaining focus. This brief overview of workplace trends predicts an increasingly distracted workforce growing weary of "always on" availability. Read on for a summary of more employment issues—both positive and negative—that are likely to accelerate in the coming year.

I loved the news that the Volkswagen union negotiated for mandatory time off the workplace grid. Not sure it's possible in all circumstances as we may be too far down the path towards a new contour of our work and personal lives for this to actually help. The really distressing highlight here is the unemployment divide. Given the rare worlds we move in I would have guessed the percentage of the US population with a bachelor's degree to be much higher than thirty percent. ( Michalko)

Why a Democracy Needs Uninformed People

Miller-McCune • December 15, 2011

Noise repellent. Recent political events have demonstrated the power of a vocal minority to steer policy—a phenomenon attributed by many pundits to a largely apathetic and uninformed electorate. But what if uninformed voters actually form a buffer against the extreme fringes? Read on for a summary of research based on fish behavior that indicates how clueless members affect group decision-making.

An interesting summary that explains why democratic decision-making can easily result in sub-optimal, majority-supported decisions. Presuming that such a thing ever happens in a democracy. ( Michalko)

A Conversation with Outlier Malcolm Gladwell

Knowledge@Wharton • November 21, 2011

Think different. Check out this interview with Malcolm Gladwell, who's made a writing career out of connecting the dots between "small stories and small pieces of research." Gladwell's knack for drawing broader implications from bits of anecdotal information provides a good example of how organizations can leverage the data they collect to inform better decision making.

I have read one of his books ( The Tipping Point ) and many of his articles but it hadn't occurred to me to wonder about his relationship to academe. Sounds like it's about what you'd guess—the academics envy and accuse him of having no nuance and he is an academic wannabe who chose audience over nuance. ( Michalko)

The Touchy Feely Future of Technology

National Public Radio • December 26, 2011

Where we're headed. Apple's latest products are only the first ripples of a wave of touch technology that is predicted to inundate schools, hospitals, home environments and more. Technology experts say next-generation devices will remember and store our spoken language styles and allow us to perfect "blind texting"—tapping away while maintaining eye contact with companions and colleagues. Read on for more predictions on how touch will change our relationship with our devices.

The trends are interesting but what caught me was the observation by the MIT professor that "the touch pad is a very important moment because the touch pad makes our devices feel more like an extension of ourselves." In December I saw an intriguing presentation at the Digital Strategies for Heritage conference ( DISH2011) by Amber Case, who styles herself a cyborg anthropologist taking off from the ways that our current mobile technology augments our physical capabilities. Her presentation brought to my attention the work on mobile technology done by Steve Mann back in 1981. Check out the photos of him burdened with what must be sixty pounds of gear. ( Michalko)

The Thought Leader Interview: Meg Wheatley

Strategy+Business • Winter 2011

Fear factor. Innovation leadership expert Meg Wheatley offers some excellent suggestions on how to adapt leadership practices during times of adversity to avoid the twin traps of fear and denial while inspiring motivation. Her advice will resonate with anyone who's been frustrated by shortsighted leaders and inflexible bureaucracy.

A long form interview that's worth your time. I particularly liked her reference midway through the interview to the four stages of being lost that she extracted from the book Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why: True Stories of Miraculous Endurance and Sudden Death by Laurence Gonzales. ( Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

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

Get the answer.