Innovation is Hard

IEEE Spectrum • February 14, 2012

The innovator's paradox. Author Scott Anthony says the popular myth about Kodak is wrong—rather than missing the boat on digital photography, the photo pioneer was a leading digital imaging patent holder and an early mover in digital camera and photo-sharing technology. Unfortunately, Kodak suffered from the "innovator's paradox," which Anthony describes as, "when you have the ability to change, you don’t feel the need, and when you feel the need you no longer have the ability." Read on for some suggestions on how to avoid the complacency trap.

It's good to be told that these easy stories are overly simplified narratives. Being in a disrupted industry as we are I think most of us would agree that "Every time transformation strikes someone—a smart senior person inside an organization that’s on the wrong end of the transformation—they see it; they've got the technology, they've got the pieces, but they're held captive to their view of their current business, their core business, and their core business model." ( Michalko)

Envisioning a Post-Campus America

The Atlantic • February 2012

Disruption in the ivory tower. A growing number of online alternatives to traditional, four-year college education follow the pattern of classic creative disruptors—offering a slightly inferior but adequate product for a vastly cheaper price. Read on for senior editor Megan McArdle's 10 prognostications on what the higher education system will look like if distance education becomes the norm. The implications for small (and even large) academic libraries are serious.

Yet another example of "disruptive innovation" forecasting and there's a lot that resonates in these predictions. If e-learning does explode then these are credible imaginings. I'm particularly taken with the idea that the models which succeed on the net are ones that have scale and gravitational pull which means that it is the brand names (early offerings from MIT and Stanford are called out in the essay) that will become those hubs. And the "struggling" middle will disappear. The implications—liberal arts as an amateur pastime, research being broken off from teaching, the changing value of the academic brand credential, etc.—are all enormous. ( Michalko)

Connections with Integrity

The Millions • February 7, 2012

Investment advice. LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman shares what he's learned about forging alliances with all different types of people motivated by different expectations. The take-away is that almost every alliance can work for some limited period of time, as long as you understand where the other party is coming from.

With the future of libraries directly tied to the development and nurturing of new partnerships whether on the campus or in the community (it's one of the themes we'll cover in the OCLC Research Library Partnership June colloquium, for which you Partners ought to have saved the date) the exercise of holding up these different opportunities to Hoffman's taxonomy of relationships is worth the effort. My guess is that the new relationships we need to develop will span the spectrum even though libraries usually invest in activities and groups because it's the right thing to do. ( Michalko)

Convenience: The Third Essential of a Customer-Centric Business

UX Magazine • February 16, 2012

It's not always what you think. Despite the fact that self-service functions require more effort from customers, they're often rated as more convenient because they convey a sense of control. Read on for insight into the elements that contribute to consumers' perception of convenience.

While this magazine is aimed at user experience designers this particular article is nicely shaped deconstruction of convenience—what it is and why it wins. Minimizing the costs of time, space and effort is what convenience does. It's also why e-books and e-journals have won out over the sometimes superior offerings on the shelves in our institutions. ( Michalko)

Little Brother Is Watching

The American Interest • March/April 2012

Click-happy. Google's monolithic behavior tracking system makes Orwell's totalitarian society in Nineteen Eighty-Four look almost quaint in comparison. In his dark essay on the disappearance of privacy, writer J.P. O’Malley observes: "One does not have to adopt a Chomskyan conspiracy theory of media concentration to see the dire implications for democracy of corporate desiderata watering down the news. Big Brother isn't the problem here, but a distracted, click-happy Little Brother." Check out the article—awareness is the first step in wresting back control of our identities.

This is a very complete report on the basic arguments made in the book titled The Daily You: How the New Advertising Industry Is Defining your Identity and Your Worth by Joseph Turow. For an interesting case study in the popular press about how this actually works see the NY Times Magazine article How Companies Learn Your Secrets.

Even if you might ultimately have to yield to the Scott McNealy 1999 imperative—"You have zero privacy anyway, get over it"—right now you can go and wipe out your Google search history before it belongs to them. Hurry. ( Michalko)


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