Power of Suggestion

The Chronicle of Higher Education • 30 January 2013

Is priming suspect? Social psychologist John Bargh's struggle to validate his groundbreaking "priming" results casts a shadow on a popular area of research that's spawned an entire self-help movement. Read on for a balanced account of the difficulties inherent in "soft" sciences research replication and the legitimate frustration building around what Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman has called a "train wreck looming."

We've featured quite a few articles that feature the outcomes from this area of research and been a big fan of Kahneman. This is a fascinating look into either the unraveling or maturing complexity of "priming" research. It also has one of my favorite snarky face slaps of this young year—" . . . if you wish to publish a best seller sans bloodsucking or light bondage, you would be well advised to match a few dozen psychological papers with relatable anecdotes and a grabby, one-word title." (Michalko)

The Philosophy of Data

The New York Times • 4 February 2013

Data revolution. Check out David Brooks' column on data-ism—the assumption "that everything that can be measured should be measured, that data is a transparent and reliable lens that allows us to filter out emotionalism and ideology . . . " Big Data is proving a powerful driver of new corporate strategies, and Brooks dissects some of the common assumptions underlying data-based vs. intuitive decision making.

I'm a Brooks booster and pleased that this is a topic that he promises to examine frequently over the next year. The latest installment about what big data can't do is already here. (Michalko)

Amazon Wants to Get into the Used E-Book Business—Or Bury It

Wired • 8 February 2013

"Maintaining scarcity." Amazon has filed for a patent that would enable it to play a central role in the buying and selling of Kindle-based "used" e-books. The system would operate similarly to Amazon's e-book lending business except in this case once a file is transferred to the buyer, Amazon would have the capability to permanently turn off access to that file on the seller's device. Digital content patent expert Bill Rosenblatt says the digital resale market probably won't be a big moneymaker for Amazon, but it would accomplish the key goals of shifting more of its digital content business beyond the reach of meddlesome publishers while boosting its own publishing business.

Replicating in digital space the behaviors of physical objects that constitute first-sale rights is patentable? Apparently. There's a link to the full-text of the patent in the article. It was instructive for me to look at the actual patent. There's clearly an established set of conventions and approaches that make up the practitioners dance. (Michalko)

The Future of Search Is Gravitational: Content Will Come to You

GigaOM • 7 February 2013

Information gravitation. Tech journalist Derrick Harris previews some of the companies working to replace desktop search with relevant content instantly delivered based on what a user is writing about. These businesses say their preemptive approach will help tame information overload, but it remains to be seen whether users actually prefer to have data pushed rather than pulled.

I can't wait for something like this to reach widespread use and maturity. I would love to stop relying on my e-mailbox as the organizing structure that gets those plaintive "I-know-it's-in-here searches." I watched the MindMeld explanatory video. It's irritatingly San Francisco-centric. (Michalko)

Price of a Bad Review

Inside Higher Ed • 8 February 2013

Taking umbrage. Check out this disturbing story of McMaster University librarian Dale Askey, who in 2010 posted a personal blog characterizing the Edwin Mellen Press as a "vanity press" and questioning the rigor of its scholarly review process. Last year, the publisher sued Askey and McMaster for more than $4 million for libel and damages. Askey's tribulations serve as a cautionary tale for anyone who operates an opinion blog.

There's a good FAQ for bloggers about Internet libel, defamation and slander put up by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. I wonder if these kinds of suits are increasing. In the library world these seem rare enough to warrant the attention given this case. Good to know that truth is an absolute defense to a defamation claim. (Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, what are the top six "most challenging issues" for special collections in the UK and Ireland?

Get the answer.