You Didn't Make the Harlem Shake Go Viral—Corporations Did

Quartz • 28 March 2013

Anatomy of a virus meme. "Viral marketing" seems to make every Top Ten new media marketing list but it's not easily executed. Read on for a deconstruction of the latest Youtube craze that will make you think twice the next time the phrase is bandied about in a strategy meeting.

This is terrific. It's a very credible, well-researched essay that puts the events associated with the birth and explosion of a meme. This is the internet equivalent of discovering the actual origins of your favorite campfire legend. (Saving you some trouble, here's the video of the "real" Harlem Shake.) (Michalko)

Cognitive Biases and the Trouble with Moral Local Shopping

Lost in Transcription Blog • 4 April 2013

Building goodwill. Free wifi and clean public restrooms are just two of the many services libraries provide for patrons and the general public. Read Jon Wilkins' blog on why these small conveniences have such a large impact on public perception and appreciation.

I'm a big fan of John's in both a professional and personal context. This is perceptive about the distortion filter of "moral" thinking applied to consumer behavior. (Michalko)

Letting Down Our Guard with Web Privacy

The New York Times • 30 March 2013

Just say no. Americans bemoan the loss of personal privacy, yet continue to comply with many website requests for information. Behavioral economist Alessandro Acquisti reveals the ways that retailers and others use diversionary tactics to help erode our instinctual hoarding response.

We do it to ourselves. For very little. Although with today's computing power and algorithms it takes so few pieces of Personally Identifiable Information that resistance may only make you feel defiant rather than make you safe. (Michalko)

Brain Games Are Bogus

The New Yorker • 5 April 2013

Games people play. Brain training is a billion-dollar business, but a recent meta-analysis of 23 memory-training studies around the world shows that games may improve skills in the specific task being performed, but the intelligence developed does not transfer to broader skill sets. Memory-training certainly does no harm, but Georgia Tech scientist Zach Hambrick warns against brain games as a panacea: "If you are doing brain training for ten hours a week, that is ten hours a week you are not doing something else, like exercising."

I am glad to be relieved of any ambient guilt for not being interested in training my brain. This outcome fits alongside other areas of study where meta-analysis and failure to replicate have resulted in vacating widely-held beliefs. Priming, for instance, which we featured not long ago. (Michalko)

The Microhistorian

Dissent Magazine • Spring 2013

Getting intimate. Check out this essay on Jill Lepore to learn more about microhistory, a literary genre that gained traction in the '70s and '80s in response to "capital H History" and instead focuses on an "interesting small player who could stand in for the average person and, as a result, offer a unique angle overlooked by elite texts and master narratives." This approach toward historical story-telling makes for entertaining and enlightening fare, and there are several suggestions for sampling included.

So here Lepore gets her own microhistory treatment in this intelligent essay. I've only read a few of her New Yorker pieces and didn't know of her broader historian fame. I've downloaded of few pieces to my Instapaper account. You should too. (Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, in addition to expecting seamless access to full-text sources, researchers and students are confident in their own ability to find and use what?

Get the answer.