What a Physics Student Can Teach Us About How Visitors Walk Through a Museum

Smithsonian Magazine • May 16, 2012

Find your own way. Attempts to route visitor traffic in an orderly fashion through a museum exhibit usually ignore the tendency of art viewers to zigzag in a pattern reminiscent of the random pinging of subatomic particle activity, with men often choosing an even more erratic path than women. Check out these anecdotal observations on various museum visitors' behavior while viewing different types of exhibits. They offer an important reminder that part of the pleasure of visual and cultural stimulation is finding one's own pace and path.

It's hard to believe that this hasn't been done before. The spillover from retail to museum going seems kind of obvious certainly more obvious than statistical mechanics. In any event I bet the retail angle hasn't been picked up because "Writers about art museums and visiting art museums tend to be moralists. They're distressed that museum-goers are looking in a 'superficial' way . . ." ( Michalko)

How Spam Meat Has Survived Spam E-Mail

Business Week • May 17, 2012

Judo move. Following years of futile lawsuits against software startups, in 2005 Hormel decided to shift gears and embrace Spam's popular alternate meaning by promoting the Monty Python musical, Spamalot. Adopting a more light-hearted approach has opened up the company to brand expansion opportunities, including an edgy "Spam Stinky French Garlic Collector's Edition," a humorous Sir Can-A-Lot cartoon character and a Spam Jam music festival showcasing a Spamettes singing group. Check out this story of how Hormel turned a brand manager's nightmare into a PR plus.

A fun overview of an unusual business challenge. The article isn't strong enough in characterizing the vigor with which Spam has embraced its quirkiness. You must visit the Glorious Spam Tower on their homepage. Then sing a Spam song. Not obvious help in defining the library's judo move. ( Michalko)

The Pleasures of Being Read To

The New Yorker • May 16, 2012

Tell me a story. Writer John Colapinto's essay on audiobooks affirms the power of the human voice to transform the written word into a whole new art form. Many readers turn to audiobooks to fill the lonely void of commuting or exercise regimens, but Colapinto's central point is that audiobooks are not a secondary substitute for reading—when done well, they can elevate the literary experience to a whole new level.

This inspired me to download an audiobook. I chose the Great Gatsby (which I haven't read for a very long time) in the reading by the actor— Frank Muller who is characterized as the premier artist of audio acting in this article. ( Michalko)

Philip Ball on the Origins of Curiosity

The Browser • May 18, 2012

Wonder years. British science writer Philip Ball ( Curiosity: How Science Became Interested in Everything) shares his recommendations on five books that collectively trace the history of scientific curiosity from the Middle Ages through the early 19th century. Ball's selections illustrate the complex relationships between science, magic, superstition, religion and humans' eternal quest for answers.

The discussion of these choices is itself an interesting flyover of the evolution of scientific inquiry over the centuries. I won't be picking up the eight volume recommendation. Ball's comments about Pliny's fascination with monstrosities reminded me of one of the strangest museums I've ever visited—the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia. Devoted to medical curiosities you'll find something to stun you (for a variety of reasons) in every case. ( Michalko)

Breaking the Smartphone Addiction

HBS Working Knowledge • May 14, 2012

Stop the cycle. Author Leslie Perlow ( Sleeping with Your Smartphone), touts the effectiveness of PTO (predictable time off) in boosting productivity, improving morale and restoring work/life balance. She makes the important point that although everyone complains about the 24/7 connection cycle, people often are their own worst enemies when it comes to facilitating and encouraging ubiquitous availability.

She is definitely on to something with the predictable time off concept. I can see how this might be implemented in a small team or small company but in a larger enterprise the ability to ensure understanding and cooperation in the concept seems much harder. Try not returning a note from Legal or a phone call from Finance. ( Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, the challenge to supra-institutional providers of library infrastructure and services is to define some of that future infrastructure and service provision in concert with what?

Get the answer.