Death by Degrees

n+1 • June 2012

Radical chic? This essay by the editors of n+1 Magazine argues that our fixation on credentialism, which has winnowed the "haves" from the "have-nots" for centuries, has run its course. Read on for a thought-provoking history of the academy's stranglehold on political discourse and upward mobility.

I think all Americans of a certain age must acknowledge that we've moved away from the days when "solidarity trumped the compulsion to rank." And that we've lost a lot in the process. This is a pretty powerful rant about the elite university hold on exceptional credentials. Of course credentials rule everywhere even when they don't convey exceptionalism, just authorization. See this intriguing article—how much to be licensed to braid hair? The author's suggestions about how to break the hold will infuriate or intrigue you. All of next year's high school valedictorians refuse to go to college . . . perhaps somebody's been reading Ayn Rand and believes that business about stopping the motor of the world. (Michalko)

How LinkedIn Has Turned Your Resume into a Cash Machine

Forbes • July 17, 2012

Under the radar. Here are a few facts about LinkedIn you might not have known: LinkedIn stock is up 64% this year while Facebook shares have dropped 17%; for every hour a user spends on the site, LinkedIn nets $1.30 in revenue—Facebook only 6.2 cents; LinkedIn spends 33% of its revenues on a recently doubled sales force—Facebook spends 15%. Read on to find out more about how the LinkedIn leviathan is poised to disrupt the social networking scene.

The exceptionally credentialed are registered here but so are all those serious about their professional profile. LinkedIn does have a business model more robust than ad placement. They've tapped a paying audience who want direct targeted access to the professional and career information we've disclosed. Ads need big audiences with low transaction costs because most products can’t bear large customer acquisition costs. Filling a new job has very high transaction costs and you will pay more to do it right. If a vanity search on Google produces your personal home page; then LinkedIn produces your professional home page.


Your E-Book Is Reading You

The Wall Street Journal • June 29, 2012

Peekaboo. It turns out that publishers of e-books have access to extensive details about purchasers' reading habits, including reading session duration, pages read and search terms employed. Although they have yet to reveal their plans for using this giant new data cache, publishers' ability to monitor readers' behavior signals a major shift in privacy norms. Check out this discussion for insight into the ups and downs of this cozy new relationship.

I haven't taken advantage of what e-book providers can tell me about others' experience of the text I'm reading. For my colleagues it seems to be catalytic experience. I had not thought about the "product design" feedback that could be flowing back to publishers and authors. My guess is that for authors it will be both embraced and rejected. Got to love the genre readers, they seem to be the ones to thank for keeping fiction alive. (Michalko)

The Library Test Kitchen

Harvard Magazine • July-August 2012

Anything goes. Students in Harvard's "Library Test Kitchen" class imagine the library as laboratory. Read on for inspiration on transforming physical library space into a community-relevant resource.

If you haven't heard of these it's worth scanning. I liked this loosely-related piece about the future look of the urban public library. (Michalko)


The New Republic • June 22, 2012

Hashtag happy. This brief commentary on the linguistic linkage between techno-gadgetry and casual speech illustrates the influence that texting and Twitter have exerted on the way we talk to each other. But author John McWhorter notes that colloquial jargon has always reflected the mania of the moment—read on for a quick historical perspective on how technology affects language trends.

Fun even though I've never really heard somebody say "hashtag" as a prefatory vocal signal of ironic importance. I'm still seeing air quotes. (Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, what is Umlaut?

Get the answer.