Radical Basics

Hub Magazine • January/February 2012

Consider the restroom. Marketing expert Spencer Hapoienu points out that reliably clean bathrooms were just as important as predictable hamburgers in building the MacDonald's brand back in the 1950s—a small but important innovation that Starbucks is now struggling to replicate. Check out these lessons from the retail world that could apply to any organization dealing with the public: "One thing to be said about innovations that are successful is that they all reflect an understanding of the customer—what makes the customer happy, what gives the customer a better experience with the brand, and what keeps the customer loyal."

I suspect that a lot of libraries already know this about the basics—clean up, widen the aisles, get rid of the junk, etc.—but don't have the funds to renovate or can't move the money around to fund this kind of improvement. ( Michalko)

Digging Deeper into The New York Times' Fact-Checking Faux Pas

Nieman Journalism Lab • January 18, 2012

Fair and balanced—not. In an age of he-said-she-said journalism, public figures' misstatements often go unchallenged by mainstream media, but this article points out that fact-checking can carry its own bias. Read on for an overview of the ongoing debate at The New York Times' ombudsman desk over whether journalists should report only vetted information and who's responsible for doing that.

If this dust-up hasn't come to your attention this is a good summary with plenty of pointers to the column that kicked it off and the storm of analysis and reaction that followed. For US readers you might want to put Glenn Kessler's blog for The Washington Post— The Fact Checker—into your feed. ( Michalko)

Morning People May Be More Creative in the Afternoon

Miller-McCune • January 23, 2012

Not ready for prime-time. Two Michigan psychologists have published results of a study indicating that our best analytical and problem-solving moments occur during our "off-peak" hours—afternoons for "morning people" and vice versa. The idea is that the inhibitory process that "suppresses the processing of distracting information" is muted when we're in a mental slump, opening up our minds to nonconventional thoughts and solutions.

If a slightly fatigued brain can produce surprising insights then my co-workers should be overcome by the flood of "aha moments" I produce. They are not. ( Michalko)

Map Apps: The Race to Fill in the Blanks

Businessweek • January 12, 2012

Where in the world? Organizations are turning to mobile map apps to help customers find their way around stores, airports and campuses, and it's only a matter of time and technology until museums and libraries follow suit. Read on for predictions of where map apps are heading next.

This certainly makes sense for libraries, which can be confusing and difficult to navigate places, and there are examples of early work already out there. Like these at Wayne State University and University of Oregon. ( Michalko)

Yahoo Predicts America's Political Winners

Technology Review • January 19, 2012

Boomerang. Politics, polls and prognostications. Yahoo Research scientists are using a combination of prediction markets, public opinion polls and sentiment analysis to up the ante in political prognostication. And while the technology failed to foresee Gingrich's upset victory in the South Carolina primary, this latest venture in Big Data harvesting could have applications far beyond the 2012 election season.

I'm sure it's validity and utility can be gauged and calibrated but "sentiment analysis" based on the twitterverse seems a bit like the famous Gallup poll of the 1948 US presidential election (some say that the erroneous prediction was due to quota sampling based on phone directories; an expensive item in those days). Dewey defeats Truman, anybody? ( Michalko)

Weird Writing Habits of Famous Authors

Flavorwire • December 25, 2011

Just for fun. Check out these amusing snapshots of 10 iconic authors' quirky writing habits. While it's no surprise that Truman Capote composed best while horizontal with a drink and cigarette, who knew that John Cheever preferred to write in his skivvies so as not to rumple his suit?

I'm always interested to see portraits of authors and these are fun. If you're really in to it you can get writers and poets' playing cards from the UK National Portrait Galleries. ( Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, what is evolving as a way to both augment and recontexutalize the content and metadata created by LAMs?

Get the answer.