Netflix Wasn't All Wrong

Strategy+Business • April 2, 2012

Split personality. Six months ago, Netflix was frantically backpedaling on its announcement that it would split its streaming and DVD delivery operations into two separate businesses, but the underlying reasons for formalizing separate business models were sound. Read on for an analysis of where Netflix went wrong in its business strategy and the challenges of maintaining customer loyalty while serving competing constituencies and conflicting demands.

Don't libraries have a similar business split problem? It's hard to manage a business line that is in full and inevitable decline alongside one that needs to grow amid fierce competition. Our print collections and our electronic subscriptions are a lot like that. ( Michalko)

CEOs and the Candle Problem

Nature • April 2, 2012

Money isn't everything. Check out the reasoning behind the counterintuitive finding that using financial incentives as a motivator can actually hurt job performance. The problem is that once people start focusing—on money or stock value, for instance—their ability to think creatively and problem-solve is greatly impaired. This paradox explains a lot about CEOs who drive their companies out of business by relying on same-old same-old thinking.

The "candle problem" was new to me. If Daniel Pink believes that it is a "legally enforceable fact" that financial incentives decrease performance, it's good enough for me. Put him on your RSS feed. ( Michalko)

The Age of Insight

Wired • April 7, 2012

The intersection of art and science. Read this interview with Nobel Prize winner and author Eric Kandel for his insight into the creative fecundity of fin de siècle Vienna as exemplified in the period's many artistic and neuroscientific breakthroughs. Kandel's book, The Age of Insight, explains how the cross-pollination of genius in Vienna's famous salons forever changed our ideas about how the mind and brain relate to art.

I would have liked to get an invite to the salon of Berta Zuckerkandl. All Vienna probably did come alive on her sofa ( In meinem Salon ist Österreich ). ( Michalko)

Intelligence and Other Stereotypes: The Power of Mindset

Scientific American • April 3, 2012

You're never too old (or too dumb). Theories on IQ generally fall into one of two schools: belief that intelligence is a fixed entity that remains constant through life or that intelligence is fluid and the brain is a muscle that can be strengthened with exercise. Research indicates that whichever belief you adhere to can be a self-fulfilling prophesy—either by motivating you to improve your capabilities or by limiting your potential through a self-defeatist attitude. Read on for examples of people who never stopped believing they could do better.

Both Mischel and Dweck's work is rightly famous. This article has a bit too much of a self-help tone to it that feels trivializing. Mischel is the originator of that famous deferred gratification experiment that I've mentioned in ATF previously. Go watch one of the videos.

P.S. My daughter went to this pre-school where the research was first done and participated in this as well as a bunch of other experiments.

P.P.S. she didn't eat the marshmallow . . . ( Michalko)


The Things Customers Can Do Better than You

HBR Blog Network • April 5, 2012

Peer-to-peer power. Customer-centric innovation and marketing have been widely touted in recent years, and this checklist will look familiar, but the last item bears repeating—your customers (patrons) would much rather talk to each other than to you, so providing ways to promote and guide peer-to-peer communication is one of the most effective ways to channel your message.

We should mobilize our clients better and more often than we do. There are not a lot of good academic library examples. Some of the keys to success in this kind of social interaction are captured in a strand of OCLC Research work called Sharing and Aggregating Social Metadata. The third part of the report will be available soon. It will provide recommendations on social metadata features most relevant to libraries, archives, and museums as well as the factors contributing to success. ( Michalko)

The Maps We Wandered Into as Kids

The Awl • February 7, 2012

Fantasyland. Check out this charming essay on the cartography that fueled readers' imagination in books ranging from The Wizard of Oz to Winnie the Pooh. Fantasy maps can serve as a memorable framework for graphic communications and are a powerful way to get your message across by highlighting "Here's the important stuff and everything else doesn't really matter."

You've got to love the author of this post, Victoria Johnson, for saying "this was one of my favorite books as a young girl (I borrowed it from the library so often that the librarians finally just gave it to me one day)." Follow all the links and have some fun. Like her I love having maps and other materials supplied as part of the novel although getting a smudgy illegible map in a reduced size paperback edition is just plain frustrating. The spatial relations and orientation in a story are important. That's why one of Vladimir Nabokov's test questions during his Cornell novels class was to draw a map of the interior of the house in Mansfield Park. ( Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, what are the three roles of OCLC Research?

Get the answer.