The Clothesline Paradox

Edge • 4 October 2012

Capturing value. Publisher Tim O'Reilly explores the link between value creation and value capture in the open source software, scientific publishing and digital content industries: "I think the connection here is that what starts with open data and what appears to be uneconomic and free actually is the foundation for the next generation of business." Read on for O'Reilly's ruminations on the Clothesline Paradox and an emerging set of business models aimed at monetizing the sharing economy.

I hadn't ever reflected on these often invisible ecosystems of value creation. Tim's ruminations are incomplete and it's tough for me to see the value capture side of what he calls "open access." Maybe libraries and museums being "free" goods are an example of value creation separated by an institutional wrapper from the value capture which occurs for their users outside their walls. Here's the original article from CoEvolution Quarterly 1975 that articulated the Clothesline Paradox. (Michalko)

Big Data Doesn't Work if You Ignore the Small Things That Matter

HBR Blog Network • 5 October 2012

Sweating the small stuff. While many businesses are chasing after Big Data like it's the next Holy Grail, University of Miami business professor Robert Plant points out that, "Companies would do better at satisfying and retaining customers if they spent less time worrying about big data and more time making good use of 'small data'—already-available information from simple technology solutions—to become more flexible, informative and helpful."

Most of the examples of better use of "small data" seem to revolve around customer support in the physical world—"meat space" as Paul Evan Peters termed it. The kind of customer service improvements that are now expected and commonly delivered via web services—recommendations, customized coupons, wish lists, introductions, payment reminders, etc.—are the product of savvy big data manipulations. I'm all for getting the cable guy's appointment down to a 20 minute window. (Michalko)

Interstellar Hard Drive

The Morning News • 2 October 2012

Looking up. Check out this galaxy of extraterrestrial solutions to data storage, ranging from lunar-based hard drives to asteroidal organic storage systems. In the end, the problem still comes down to using data formats that will be readable centuries from now—and for that you'd need an archivist, says European Space Agency science writer Nick Howes.

Mr. Howes is clearly having fun with this. I suspect none of us will worry about the data dark age after the asteroid strike but we ought to worry about backing up our files. Do it right now. Mr. Howes is pro-am manager of the Faulkes Telescope Project whose aim is "to provide free access to robotic telescopes and a fully supported education programme to encourage teachers and students to engage in research-based science education." That is cool. (Michalko)

Stop Pagination Now

Slate • 1 October 2012

Keep on clickin'. Tech columnist Farhad Manjoo takes on multi-page web design, arguing that forcing long-form readers to click repeatedly is an unnatural act. Sadly, he adds, many websites have become addicted to the ad revenue generated by multi-page clicks, relegating reader experience to secondary consideration.

A rant aimed at an admittedly small thing but it's a small thing that really irritates me as well. With all the articles that need to be read for Above the Fold I have defaulted to the behavior described here—immediately looking for the Single Page button that I hope is available for every article. (Beware the next article will appear as one of these dreaded multi-page articles . . . ) (Michalko)

How to Make Time Expand

The Boston Globe • 9 September 2012

Time isn't money. "Time famine" was coined to describe the over-scheduled angst familiar to millions of Americans, but two recent studies show that by exerting control over their perceptions of time, people can experience more "time affluence," improving mental and physical well-being. Check out the results, which indicate that when it comes to feeling stretched to the limit, it's all in your mind.

I suppose there are ways to make you feel like you have more time. I suspect they might have the same results as "feeling rich" when you don't actually have money. You'll behave like you have it and suffer the consequences. (Michalko)

Why We Are So Rude Online

The Wall Street Journal • 1 October 2012

Thumbs down. Recent studies indicate that people who spend a lot of time interacting with a network of close friends on Facebook tend toward high body mass index, credit card debt and lower self control. What's going on here? Read on for answers on how online relationships can desensitize users to the consequences of real-life behavior.

There are very few places where online commentary is not tainted with the wacky, rude, obscene, and off-point. I believe a lot of it is enabled by anonymity. I was heartened to hear that the editor of the student newspaper at the University of North Carolina declared that anonymous comments would no longer be accepted. Students are part of the academy and in the academy you own your thoughts and should be responsible for them. Read the editorial. (Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, what initiative has the goal of improving Wikipedia engagement by bringing Wikipedia and libraries together through on-site events at libraries, archives and related institutions?

Get the answer.