Shift Your Lens: The Power of Re-Framing Problems

Stanford Technology Ventures Program • 14 January 2013

Take off the blinders. This excerpt from Stanford professor Tina Seelig's book, InGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity, touts the power of re-framing the issue to release your inner innovator. Check out Seelig's examples of how digging deeper into a "problem" can prompt new questions and solutions.

Change your perspective, see the world from others' viewpoints and ask "Why"-questions. Easy to say. Hard to do. I was glad to see Ray and Charles Eames' wonderful Powers of Ten film called out in the essay. Watch it if you haven't seen it recently then look at this nice celebration by Maria Popova of Charles on what would have been his 105th birthday. (Michalko)

How to Think About Turning Your Products into Services

Co.Design (Fast Company) • 18 January 2013

Focus on the customer. Check out this how-to column on "servicizing." It's aimed at commercial enterprises, but some of the examples may spark new ideas on ways to enhance the services museums and libraries already offer.

That's one ugly word they've coined. It should fall into a bottomless pit with "satisficing." Neverheless, use your imagination and there are useful analogies for our work in the article. It's not hard to take the admonition to move from product to service is equivalent to move from collections to research support. (Michalko)

The Dewey Decimal System, and Where Innovation Goes Wrong

Fast Company • 11 January 2013

Don't blame Dewey. In his book Culturematic, Grant McCracken says the Dewey Decimal system is a good example of the siloed thinking that can squelch outside-the-box innovation. But clustering information into categories is not the real problem, says digital strategist Sam Ford. "[I]t's the dominance such a system starts to have. We create a model, then forget it was a model we created at all." Read on for a reminder of how easy it is to confine one's imagination within artificial boundaries.

I understand that this is shorthand for organization that creates a burden as well as a false hope that innovation can be structured. I still wish they'd chosen another analogy instead of kicking the most famous brand in libraryland. The authors call out Spielberg's Lincoln early in the essay. If you haven't heard the Tony Kushner interview about writing the Lincoln screenplay, it's fascinating. And if you listen to only the first two minutes you'll get to hear the telegraph office scene the authors cite. (And who knew there was a book called Lincoln in the Telegraph Office.) (Michalko)

The Librarian of Congress Gets to Decide Whether Americans Can Unlock Their Phones. And He Says No.

Spectrum IEEE • 25 January 2013

Big muddy. Check out this heads-up on how a lapsed exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act will prevent smartphone owners from decoupling their devices from the original service providers. The software licensing issues involved echo those surrounding e-readers and e-book publishing.

Key phrase: "the Register of Copyright and the Librarian of Congress, neither of which are elected positions . . . " In case you don't know they are Maria A. Pallante and James H. Billington who have held their positions for 1.5 and 25 years respectively. Yes, he's really been there 25 years. (Michalko)

Dickens, Austen and Twain, Through a Digital Lens

The New York Times • 26 January 2013

Stylometry. Data-centric research in the social sciences and humanities has spawned a new field of inquiry called Culturomics, which uses algorithmic models to analyze Big Data and generate new insights into cultural trends. Read on to find out why Matthew L. Jockers' recent analysis of literary works from 1780-1900 concludes that Jane Austen and Sir Walter Scott were "the literary equivalent of Homo erectus, or, if you prefer, Adam and Eve."

This kind of analysis represents one facet of what we refer to under the "Digital Humanities" rubric. There's some interesting work and wild visualizations called out here. I enjoyed the screencast of the full Jockers' presentation titled "Computing and Visualizing the 19th-Century Literary Genome." (Why do humanists consistently feel the need to reach across the aisle for vocabulary from biology? I have yet to catch a scientist doing it.) (Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, how can libraries respond to change more effectively?

Get the answer.