Dark Social: We Have the Whole History of the Web Wrong

The Atlantic • 12 October 2012

The other social network. Journalist Alexis Madrigal reveals the dark secret of dark social: most web page visits are triggered not by Facebook postings or tweets—they are initiated through links embedded in e-mail messages and IM chats. An analysis of traffic on The Atlantic site showed almost 69% of social referrals were "dark," with Facebook coming in second at 20%. Madrigal notes that, "The only real way to optimize for social spread is in the nature of the content itself. There's no way to game email or people's instant messages." Read on for more findings that contradict much of the buzz on social media.

This aligns with my personal experience which, of course, makes it feel correct to me. The phrase dark social is more likely to catch on than direct social and parallels the "deep web" descriptive phrase that has been around since the beginning of web crawlers. It's a great disappointment to me and my colleagues that we have no way of knowing whether or how often these articles that we bring to your attention get read or forwarded. (Michalko)

Empowering "Things" for Our Internet of Things

The Futurist • 30 September 2012

The Internet of small things. Much of the hype surrounding ubiquitous computing focuses on big-ticket innovations like smart refrigerators and even smarter cars, but this article provides a quick rundown of smaller-scale applications for everything from personal health to home maintenance, providing new ideas for environmental control, public safety and more.

The notion of "smart dust" seems like it came from a William Gibson novel. The sensors of all types everywhere conjures up plants whining about their watering regime, toasters insisting that crumbs be emptied and food shouting to be eaten NOW. Woody Allen's forty-five year old nightmare realized. (Michalko)

Why Our Numbers Are Always Wrong

Digital Tonto • 28 October 2012

Softer science. The Bayesian approach to problem-solving is making a comeback, thanks to its finesse in factoring in new feedback. Blogger Greg Satell says relying on controlled experiments and complex mathematics to establish scientifically verifiable conclusions has failed us as a society, as evidenced in the preponderance of non-replicable scientific studies. Read on for an easy-to-digest discussion of problem-solving theory that offers real-life insight into the current political climate.

Before I even understood "frequentist" statistical analysis properly I had a business school professor who insisted instead on Bayesian analysis. That was confusing enough but what made it even harder were there were virtually no automated tools to support the latter type of analysis. Now there are plenty and plenty of techniques. Here's a nice visualization of Bayes' theorem. (Michalko)

A History of Reading

Brain Pickings • 26 October 2012

The two Rs. Check out these excerpts from Steven Roger Fischer's book, A History of Reading, which juxtaposes the yin and yang qualities of reading and writing: "Writing is public, reading personal . . . Writing freezes the moment. Reading is forever." Fischer’s thoughtful examination traces man's ability to accumulate and store information by deriving meaning from symbols. And the rest, as they say, is history.

You know I'm a great admirer of Maria Popova and the creative culling and combination that she does in BrainPickings. This is a nice example of her ability to summarize by choosing a bundle of apt direct quotations. [And all of us at OCLC are grateful that she takes the time to enter that Worldcat.org link to libraries whenever there is a book title in her articles.] (Michalko)

Supreme Court to Hear Arguments in Case of Student Who Resold Books

CNN.com • 27 October 2012

Slippery slope. The latest copyright case to hit the Supreme Court docket involves a student who bought foreign editions of John Wiley & Sons textbooks and resold them to students in the U.S. The Court's decision will consider the "first sale" doctrine and its complex relation to foreign distribution rights. Read on for a concise summary of the issues and how they may affect libraries, media firms, and consumer and retail groups.

Slippery slope indeed. In an earlier ATF I allowed that I was surprised that I hadn't known about this suit and that the concerns around it from our community weren't more urgent. You can see the history of the case here on the Supreme Court's blog (!?). The case is going forward and I hope we don't take comfort in imagining a legislative cutout for libraries as an adequate offset to a decision in favor of John Wiley. (Michalko)

How to Find What You're Not Looking For

The Creativity Post • 25 October 2012

Accidental genius. Many groundbreaking industrial products, including celluloid, Teflon and Scotch Tape, initially were labeled failed solutions to other problems. Creativity expert Michael Michalko suggests ways to examine ideas that may not fit into your current area of inquiry. Read on for his suggestions on how to rethink accidental discoveries.

These are mostly anecdotes of sidelong accidental successes that you have probably already heard. The Plus/Minus/Interesting analytic technique is a good one if you can achieve the necessary objective state to carry it out. [Incidentally the author, Michael Michalko, is not related but is clearly the most well-known holder of that surname on the web. I have a brother, Michael Mark Michalko, who goes by "Mark" but occasionally gets e-mail pleading for tips on how to roto-root away creative blockages.] (Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, what is "The Flipped Library"?

Get the answer.