"Contagious": Jonah Berger on Why Things Catch On

Knowledge@Wharton • 13 March 2013

"It's cats." Author Jonah Berger (Contagious: Why Things Catch On) shares his thoughts on what makes ideas go viral. Creating contagious buzz doesn't have to be expensive—it can be as quietly personal as growing facial hair or as quirky as shredding an iPhone in a blender.

He's certainly right about advertising being great for broad awareness if not very often being persuasive. The shift toward social in the network is driven by our desire to hear from other people. They persuade. (I am consistently behind on my Internet memes so the Will It Blend? channel was a surprise. Time sink. You have been warned.) (Michalko)

The Turnaround Trap

The New Yorker • 25 March 2013

Winning small. J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson is struggling in his efforts to turn around the outdated retailer, and journalist James Surowiecki says Johnson's lack of customer savvy and a flawed implementation plan are largely at fault. Rolling out a new concept without doing the prep work necessary for a smooth transition is a good way to drive old customers away while alienating new ones. "Anytime you're trying to change the way you do things, small wins are important," says management professor Michael Roberto, who advocates a more incremental approach to major change.

This was a good overview of the big changes done in a very short time by the J.C. Penney CEO. We now know the rest of the story—J.C. Penney Ousts Chief of 17 Months. I think the real takeaway here is about the overvaluation and overestimation of what a new CEO can accomplish in a disrupted industry. (Michalko)

Forget the Cellphone Fight—We Should Be Allowed to Unlock Everything We Own

Wired • 18 March 2013

It's our stuff. Congress's feeble moves toward resolving the locked cellphone issue will do nothing to free up other electronic devices or documents such as repair manuals for automobiles and farm equipment. DIY cellphone repair entrepreneur Kyle Wiens says: "Let's make one thing clear: Fixing our cars, tractors and cellphones should have nothing to do with copyright."

I didn't know the extent to which copyright has been leveraged to limit repair opportunities and achieve a kind of soft obsolescence. Read his other article "The Shady World of Repair Manuals: Copyrighting for Planned Obsolescence" for the rest of the story. (Michalko)

Price Discrimination for Copyrighted Works Post-Kirtsaeng

The Innovation Files • 22 March 2013

Who pays? Check out this brief analysis of the Supreme Court's recent ruling on the first sale doctrine and copyright law. Although the decision comes as a relief for hardcopy owners and lenders, the issue of digital goods licensing and price discrimination in foreign markets remains unresolved.

We brought this suit to your attention back in November 2010 and worried last November about the impact of a decision in favor of John Wiley. This is the rest of the story. (Michalko)

Web Organization Is Not Like Book Organization

Every Page Is Page One • 19 March 2013

Organizing principles. Technical communications expert Mark Baker points out the disparity between information organization in a book (single source) and the Web (entire universe). As more information is created "web-first," it's helpful to visualize user search and discovery navigation from the start, rather than adding it on as an afterthought.

This is actually a rumination that goes beyond principles for writing on the Web. It's about how information wants to be organized on the Web. There are good examples here and I like the author's observation that a good webpage contains "the organization of its vicinity within the Web." It's all about relationships which, of course, is the direction library data must head. That's what my colleague, Robin Murray, means when he says we must "re-envision cataloging as 'registering nodes in a global web of data'." See his presentation on Linked Open Data for the rest of the story. (Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, how do library research skills fit in with MOOCs, and where does that interaction take us in the future?

Get the answer.