How Amazon's Ambitious New Push for Same-Day Delivery Will Destroy Local Retail

Slate • July 11, 2012

Upping the ante. Check out Amazon's game-changing same-day delivery strategy. The move comes as states ratchet down on e-commerce tax revenues, but even without the tax-free pricing advantage, journalist Farhad Manjoo points out the time- and environment-saving advantages of online ordering and asks, "Why would you ever shop anywhere else?"

They won't be the first to tightly couple distribution centers and delivery. UPS has run warehouses for everything from military components to medications for years. But this would short-circuit the consumer browsing online and buying in the bricks. Watch out Walmart. (Michalko)

Netflix's Lost Year: The Inside Story of the Price-Hike Train Wreck • July 11, 2012

Tone-deaf. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings's clumsy execution of his strategy to separate the company's streaming and DVD businesses will go down as a major misstep in marketing history. Hastings was a visionary in capitalizing on streaming as the Next Big Thing, but what he and his crew failed to recognize was that they weren't just selling access to movies and TV shows—they were also selling simplicity and flexibility for viewers. Check out this cautionary tale on the risks of ignoring an existing customer base and embracing the future too quickly.

There have been lots of articles and reflections featured here in ATF on disruptive technologies and successful companies holding on for too long to the cash cow that had built their success. In this case it looked like Hastings was doing what the pundits and CEO coaches say you should do—disrupt your own business and protect the innovation that will represent your future. This insider tale suggests that either he didn't understand the strategy or just didn't do it well. I think it's the latter. (Michalko)

The Failure Myth: Why Failing More Often Is Bad for You

Forbes • July 9, 2012

Failsafe. Author Michael Tefula says it's just human nature to remember more stories about failures that turn into successes (like Walt Disney and J.K. Rowling) than failures that remain failures, but that doesn't mean that the odds favor success. Read on for suggestions on coping with failure or avoiding it in the first place.

Not wrong. Living surrounded by the Silicon Valley bubble and awash in availability bias (as the author would have it) we can see the downside of glorifying failure—it encourages the fast in/fast out behaviors that are antithetical to building a long-term business. Success is being acquired. For a not very balanced take on the culture by a transplanted NYT reporter read Disruptions: Looking Beyond Silicon Valley's Bubble.(Michalko)

Turning the Page on How We Read

Huffington Post • July 12, 2012

Getting personal. Levenger co-founder Steve Leveen outlines his personal philosophy on books, both electronic and hardcopy. Among his suggestions: indulging sentimentality by taking hardcopy marginalia to a scrapbooking level and maximizing reading efficiency through the 50-page rule. Read on for an engaging essay on learning to appreciate the strengths of both formats.

Nice ruminations. My anecdote in the vein of this essay: Last winter on a beach vacation I decided to take the biggest, longest book on my wish list, 1Q84 (944 pages, 2.8 lbs.). I only noticed one other reader on the beach, a young girl carefully lodged under an umbrella wearing sunhat and cradling a very large hardcover book. I got some glances and vice versa. The next day when the same routine occurred she got up carrying her book and came over to my lounge. "How's your Harry Potter?" was her question. "Mine's a page-turner." Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (898 pages, 2.5lbs). In her experience, if my book was big then it must have been a Potter. (Michalko)

Covering Wicked Problems

Press Think • June 25, 2012

Wicked ink. Check out journalist Jay Rosen's keynote address to this summer's UK Conference of Science Journalists for a primer on how to distinguish intractable (wicked) problems and how to explain them to others. Although this talk is skewed toward the responsibilities of covering a science beat, many of his observations are applicable to general information evaluation and problem-solving.

I like the wicked problem concept and didn't realize there was such a literature around it. I like even better the idea of having a presidential debate that would be divided in two—current issues and then wicked problems. (Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, where can you learn more about the implementation of distinctive services that better align the library with the mission of its parent institution?

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