Want to Learn How to Think? Read Fiction

Pacific Standard • 12 June 2013

Mind bending. A new study from the University of Toronto reveals that people who have just finished reading a short story are better able to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty than people who've perused essays. Psychologist Maja Djikic attributes the difference to less need for "cognitive closure" among the fiction readers, perhaps as a result of the mind-opening exercise of using one's imagination to explore characters' viewpoints. The researchers suggest their findings could possibly lead to ways to help people avoid snap judgments and bad decision-making.

Plausible enough. Here's the list of short stories and essays that the test subjects read. I sheepishly admit that while most of the authors are well known to me there's only one I've read (or can recall reading)—parts of the "Why do we laugh?" Bergson essay. (Michalko)

The Cognitive Bias Keeping Us from Innovating

HBR Blog Network • 13 June 2013

Easier said. "Think outside the box" has been a favorite management mantra for decades, but as people get older, their Functional Fixedness gets in the way. Check out the interesting case study on how Pepsi overcame its boxed-in perspective to find a way to reduce sodium in its chips while retaining their salty flavor.

This is a different origin story for the phrase "Think outside the box." I thought it originated with this puzzle. (Michalko)

Computer Scientists Grapple with How to Manage the Digital Legacy of the Departed

ScienceNews • 10 June 2013

Digital legacy. Digital estate planning is an up-and-coming business, as personal collections of heirloom photos, music and, of course, books increasingly go electronic. "Right now the contemporary discussion is privacy and utility," says Will Odom of Carnegie Mellon’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute. "It's not about how digital materials will be represented in any meaningful way." Read on for a thought-provoking essay on the business of bereavement in an age of digital memorabilia.

How digital things will serve grief, memory and honor relative to physical objects is something I hadn't considered. If it prompts you to get things in order—try this What Should I Do About My Virtual Life After Death? (Michalko)

Why Believing "Nothing to Hide" Leaves You Vulnerable

LinkedIn/danah boyd • 11 June 2013

Patriot games. Microsoft senior researcher danah boyd says the government's admonition that "if you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to worry about" is a smokescreen for a deeply troubling trend. Libraries were some of the first to feel the effects of government intrusion with the Patriot Act. Boyd points out that because "a surveillance state will produce more suspect individuals," we must resist complacency over this latest instance of government data mining.

Don't know that I agree with the author but she's always got an angle worth your time. If she's right that once you are a state suspect "it's not just about now, but it's about always" then the public or private nature of the digital legacy is a connected issue. (If you don't know danah boyd's work or are just curious about where her capital letters went, this Brown Alumni Magazine article will entertain.) (Michalko)

Kodak's Problem Child

Medium.com • 7 June 2013

Bleeding edge. Check out this in-depth analysis of Kodak's decline—the conventional wisdom is that overconfident, insulated management was blind-sided by Fuji's runaway success in digital film products, but interviews with former employees suggest that the company's earlybird status hindered innovation in a different way. "One of the things that always drove me crazy was when a proposal was denied because either somebody else was doing it, or nobody else was doing it. There was no wiggle room . . . [unless] Fuji was doing it too," says engineer Bruce Rubin. Read on for insight into how focusing on one competitor can distract one from realizing an entire market is shifting.

I don't tire of these hindsight essays. Kodak is always worth a spin because they invented the disruptive technology. This essay is unusual as it contends there is no way they could have pivoted and won. (The building demolition videos referenced here are, even for someone not connected, really dispiriting.) (Michalko)

Lawsuit Filed to Prove Happy Birthday Is in the Public Domain; Demands Warner Pay Back Millions of License Fees

TechDirt • 13 June 2013

Birthday suit. Check out this post from TechDirt's "about-time" department. Warner/Chappell Music has extracted millions from licensing "Happy Birthday to You" and is being sued by documentary maker Good Morning to You Productions to return the allegedly undeserved royalties to payers. The article is a reminder that copyright's stranglehold on intellectual property can still be challenged, lawsuit by lawsuit.

First glance I thought it was a birthday headline from The Onion. I suppose you knew it was copyright-protected? (Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, where can you read about some of the most recent work and ouput of OCLC Research?

Get the answer.