We enjoy producing ATF and have been very happy to hear from you about the ways you find it useful. (Tell us more; tell us often.) We're glad that you share it with friends and colleagues. Please make sure they know we'd welcome them as new subscribers. In the spirit of the season please visit the OCLC Research Holiday Pinterest board where all of us have contributed to an amusing, intriguing, eclectic set of holiday suggestions and observations. And now that we've past the 21st I can confidently say we'll be back in 2013. Best wishes for a lovely holiday season and a happy, productive new year.


They Know What You're Shopping For

The Wall Street Journal • 7 December 2012

Privacy lost. Data trackers increasingly are matching your online shopping habits with your offline identity and—surprise!—that information is going straight out to marketers. It turns out that "personally identifiable information" protection has seriously eroded over the past couple of years, to the point where so-called "anonymous" data can include real e-mail addresses and names. The only solution? Get rid of loyalty cards, avoid like buttons and crawl back into the cave.

As we all jump online to do holiday shopping just remember that the privacy risks are only getting worse. All the angst over personally identifiable information (PII) has been overwhelmed by the ease with which it is collected—"many of the sites the Journal contacted said they were doing so accidentally." Take a look at the various interactive links in this article to find the practices of a wide range of popular websites as well as advice to reduce identity tracking online. Kudos to WSJ for their very fine series on online privacy (links in article) as well as calling out their own practices for criticism and remedy. (Michalko)

Why Google's Ingress Game Is a Data Gold Mine

New Scientist • 29 November 2012

Only a game? Google's latest beta smartphone game meshes augmented reality with real-world geography to create a fantasy landscape, while encouraging players to contribute geotagged images that eventually will find their way into other Google services. "This is classic Google," says the director of Georgia Tech's Augmented Environments Lab. "They may get information . . . that actually helps them generate more interesting search results . . . " Check out the company's latest strategy for leveraging its vast user base resources.

I don't have an Android phone so I haven't been able to try but my colleagues say that the Bay Area is a sea of green and blue as well. This could really build out a minimal but interesting Augmented Reality infrastructure (examples) to build demand for Google Glasses when they launch. So the game isn't the point; user contributions are. Just like Google 411 wasn't about the information service—it was about all the phonemes contributed by its users. (I miss it.) (Michalko)

Solving the Broken Crossword Puzzle Economy

The Awl • 7 December 2012

Gridlock. Crossword puzzle constructor Ben Tausig provides an inside look into the dismal economics of puzzle creation. Apparently many publishers consider puzzle creators a step below freelance writers and pay them accordingly. Read on for a sobering reality check on the economics of this master wordsmithing craft.

This was fascinating. Maybe crossword addicts already knew how their habit is fed but I enjoyed learning about the patterns of production, the desire to open new channels of distribution for puzzles and the naked resentment of the NY Times dominance. There is a formidable secondary packaging into annuals, selected volumes and themed collections that was invisible to me. (Michalko)

Could Boredom Be Curable?

The Boston Globe • 2 December 2012

It's all in your mind.A comprehensive survey of past research on boredom suggests that it's tightly linked with "a conflict of attention, or attention misfocused in a way that disrupts our engagement." Not surprisingly, as people embrace a multitasking lifestyle, attention spans suffer—leading to a heightened risk for boredom. These findings underscore the market potential for "interstitial reading," as smartphone users strive to fill every available minute doing something rather than nothing.

One of the researchers comments that "we have some level of responsibility for our own levels of boredom." Well, yes. They could just have asked my Mom. (Michalko)

A Year in Digital Publishing and What to Expect in 2013

The Literary Platform • 3 December 2012

Expert opinion. Check out this year-end review of publishing industry trends, highlights and prognostications. Convergence, competition, mobile and micro content, and even Fifty Shades of Gray all get a shoutout.

The prediction lists and the pundit annual reviews are in full swing. We'll try to ferret out some of the more interesting ones to feature in ATF as the New Year begins. Here's an early one that covers the publishing landscape. Apropos the article about Google's Ingress game there are a few predictions here about location-aware and location-sensitive publishing becoming a big thing—"walking literature." (Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, with respect to born-digital special collections, the profession is moving beyond a "deer in the headlights" phase towards practical solutions based on what?

Get the answer.