How LEGO Stopped Thinking Outside the Box and Innovated Inside the Brick

Knowledge@Wharton • 1 July 2013

Back to the future. This interview with author David Robertson (Brick by Brick) recaps the saga of LEGO's innovative "system of play" strategy, its competitive challenges and its counterintuitive strategy to recapture market share. The company's internal tug-of-war between the forces of innovation and focus on core capabilities has replayed in industry after industry—read on for a story with a happy ending.

Nearly everybody has a two views of and opinions about LEGO—one from your childhood and the other as the purchasing adult. Galidor, the big fail mentioned here was outside of that window for me. Here's an unintentionally funny video review of that series done by a young LEGO enthusiast. (Michalko)

The Art Elements of Work

The Most Important Choice

Matthew E. May • 3 July & 28 June 2013

A job well done. These companion essays on bringing artistry and meaning to work will strike a note with anyone who's ever pondered life goals or tried to inspire others. Thinking about your daily activities as a work of art is a good place to start on the road to job satisfaction.

I'm good with composition, perspective and frame. Usefully drags you to view things from a different point. Read both brief essays. The Gallup chart is interesting in its stability across years. The disengaged will always be with us? Twenty years of schooling and they put you on the day shift. (Michalko)

Does Proximity Spur Collaboration? A New Study Finds It Does

IEEE Spectrum • 1 July 2013

Cross pollination. The debate on whether physical proximity sparks innovation is still simmering. Check out this interview with Jason Owen-Smith, co-author of a new University of Michigan working paper titled "Zone Overlap and Collaboration in Academic Biomedicine" to find out why it's not enough to just co-locate workers—workspace layout, dimensions and activities all play a role in providing fertile ground for idea generation.

And in one more Marissa Mayer affirming comment he says " . . . to spur innovation that is unexpected, you need some form of physical proximity. Because virtual work, to the best of my knowledge, does not yet have mechanisms that allow you to come to realize that someone you don't have a reason to talk to knows something you need to know." I'd hoped for some interesting spatial mock-ups in the paper but they are mostly social network graphs. (Michalko)

Copyright Actually Makes Books Disappear, According to Study

TeleRead • 6 July 2013

Vanishing point. A recent study by University of Illinois law professor Paul J. Heald documents a stark contrast in available Amazon titles dating from the 1850s vs. the 1950s. Read on for an overview of Heald's methodology leading to the conclusion that, "Copyright status correlates highly with absence from the Amazon shelf. Together with publishing business models, copyright law seems to stifle distribution and access."

What Joseph Esposito has to say is always interesting and his predictions often likely. I thought this article had a most intelligent aside about Cengage and the likelihood of their dilemma playing out in the STM world. (Michalko)

Andrew Coyne: Losing Longhand Breaks Link to the Past

National Post • 25 June 2013

Disconnection. Journalist Andrew Coyne laments the decline of longhand, which increasingly is being dropped from the elementary school curriculum. Coyne says: "Typing is file retrieval, remembering where a letter is. With handwriting, you create the letters anew each time, using much more complex motor skills. Whether it's the flowing motion of the arm, or the feel of the page of the page under your hand, or the aesthetic satisfaction of a well-turned 'f', it seems to engage the more intuitive, right-brain aspects of cognition." Read on for more on the benefits of longhand and for more on the decline of handwriting, check out KQED's MindShift blog, Should Schools Still Teach Cursive?

I look for the opportunity to sign my name with a fountain pen recognizing that this may be a pleasurable affectation. Like a shaving brush. (Michalko)

Funny Obits Bring New Life to a Dying Art

CNN • 9 July 2013

Death watch. Check out this clever essay on the obituary-writing industry, which itself is suffering major decline. You'll be tempted to start working on your own—just in case.

Interesting that they more or less date the time when the obituary became a legitimate essay subgenre. And that they did not mention the wonderful ones featured on the final page of each print edition of The Economist. (Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, what core library tool is being reconfigured in ways which may result in its disappearance as an individually identifiable component of library service?

Get the answer.