Is Busyness Bad for Business?

HBR Blog Network • August 3, 2012

Taking care of busyness. "Staying busy" is often used as a synonym for "doing well" in our society, but needlessly repetitive or unproductive busyness can result in stress, frustration and chronic disease. Harvard professor Susan David offers some pointers on ways that managers can reduce negative "busyness" in the workplace.

No startling news here: people are more productive if they feel their work is meaningful. I'm glad we're in a profession where our work is by nature meaningful. Just take a look at the activities we're doing in collaboration with the OCLC Research Library Partnership. (Smith-Yoshimura)

Does Dedicated Innovation Time Work?

Scott Berkun Blog • July 25, 2012

Organic innovation. Open innovation means looking for creative solutions among colleagues and competitors, but too often the "bolting-on" process resembles "organ transplantation surgery done with a butter knife," says author Scott Berkun. Check out this Q&A for suggestions on ways to grow innovation while evolving the organization to support it.

This brief summary led me to reread some vintage posts related to the topic of "20% time," the misleading shorthand for providing some time for the pursuit of interesting ideas that are not on anyone's list of scheduled assignments. In those days I thought the discussion had a "the grass is always greener" aspect, as engineers imagined freedom from the drudgery of implementing someone else's idea, and managers dreamt of having one of their staff invent Post-it notes without their effort of providing direction or vision. From here it seems to me that "innovation time" occurs naturally when peer review is seen as a virtue, and when you are happy to encourage and celebrate the efforts and inventions of your colleagues. (Washburn)

Accuracy of Medical Information on the Internet

Scientific American • August 2, 2012

Proceed with caution. A recent study published in the American Journal of Pediatrics explored the accuracy of search results delivered in response to a query on recommended infant sleeping positions. Not surprisingly, fewer than half contained recommendations that reflected American Association of Pediatric guidelines and individual blogs and retail sites were particularly inaccurate. However, the unexpected finding was that only half (50.2%) of educational resources offered AAP-concurrent information, largely because site content was out of date. As more patients turn to the internet for medical advice, the importance of keeping information on government and education sites current and easily accessible is paramount.

There are no real shockers here. People go to the web in droves, seeking information on a wide variety of topics, and there is a lot of bad information out there. What is surprising to me is how much good data there is—this study found that government sites are 80% accurate (and as noted above, inaccuracy is mostly due to out-of-date content). Corporate sites and personal blogs are up there as the most inaccurate, and discussion forums can also generate (and re-generate) a lot of bad information, particularly on hot button issues like co-sleeping with children. Questions we should ask: In the current economic environment, are government sites likely to improve, hold steady, or lose ground? And what other avenues of health information dissemination might arise? (Proffitt)

Decoding the Science of Sleep

The Wall Street Journal • August 3, 2012

Unintended consequences. For most of human history sleep deprivation was an isolated and temporary problem, but the physical and psychological changes wrought by artificial light have resulted in a society increasingly dependent on sleeping aids and caffeine. Read on for a fascinating look at the way we used to sleep and the unintended consequences of all those backlit screens that dominate our waking hours.

Turns out watching TV and working (or playing) on our mobile devices into the wee hours is not good sleep hygiene. Who knew? I was, however, interested to learn that our natural inclination would be to go to "first sleep" soon after sundown, wake naturally for an hour, then slide into "second sleep." That hour in the middle is perhaps a chance to go to the Taco Bell drive up window for "fourth meal." (Erway)

Once the Biggest Source of Social Traffic on the Web, StumbleUpon Fights to Stay Relevant

The Verge • August 1, 2012

What happened? StumbleUpon's traffic has stalled, following a major design tweak aimed at making the site more accessible to mobile devices. It turns out that people are not as inclined to seek random diversion on their smartphones as their work computers, and alternatives like Pinterest and Tumblr are now draining off some of StumbleUpon's traffic. This is the age of fickle customers and we'd better get used to it.

I'm not so sure this is the "age of the fickle customers," since customers have always been fickle. They will drop one product like a hot potato if a better one comes along. And what is better? Solving my problem better, or easier, or cheaper. Or providing me with entertainment or some other thing I value. Or better yet—being a product that I simply must have that a week ago I never would have known I wanted. So the relevance of this to libraries? Our users are fickle, too. Wikipedia long ago eclipsed the venerable Britannica on our shelves. But that's just one of many changes we, and StubmbleUpon's management team, will see. So yeah, we'd better get used to it, and we'd better pull together as we do in the OCLC Research Library Partnership. Together we can better figure out what will be compelling to our "customers" in this ever-changing world. (Tennant)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, where can you explore the use of real life preservation metadata for risk assessment and learn about an approach for mapping preservation metadata schemas with preservation risk assessment frameworks?

Get the answer.