Mindfulness in the Age of Complexity

Harvard Business Review • March 2014

Living in the now. Social psychologist Ellen Langer describes how a mindful approach to work, relationships and life can reduce stress and open up new opportunities. Langer's work in health, business and education is backed up by decades of research and validates the power of paying attention. Read on for more on how managers can use mindfulness to improve morale and boost creativity in the workplace.

Ellen Langer is the grande dame of mindfulness research (and the first tenured woman in the Harvard Psychology department). I was unaware of the broadly-based corporate rush to embrace mindfulness practices to the point that it is being referred to as McMindfulness. See this indignant report about Google's Wisdom 2.0 conference. (Michalko)

5 Things Elite Customer Service Teams Never Do

Inc. • 21 February 2014

No-nos. This brief list of common mistakes in CRM is worth a look as a reminder of how important it is to empower all customer-facing employees. Read on for pointers on how to take responsibility and follow through on resolving customer issues.

Short and correct. My favorite? Being redirected to another channel without any context. If only it worked like this fantasy. Shibboleet. If only it worked. (Michalko)

Massive Open Online Forces

The Economist • 8 February 2014

Degree of profit. As startups jockey for position in online education, they should look to the textbook business model, which shares the characteristics of high development/low replication costs. After the initial costs are recouped, each additional sale represents pure profit. Read on for more on why publishers might want to get into the MOOC business.

We've heard this before but it's worth seeing how the magazine frames this for their more general but high-end (dollars and degrees) readership. I am surprised they felt the need to find euphemisms to describe the Baumol Effect (aka cost disease). (Michalko)

Dallas Museum of Art Trades Memberships for Data

Bloomberg Businessweek • 20 February 2014

Better than tote bags. Check out this description of the Dallas Museum of Art's creative approach to membership expansion, which appears to take a page from the Amazon playbook. It's not the revenues, it's the data.

This is an old acquaintance, Max Anderson, providing the kind of museum leadership that he has done for many years. He has been out front with the importance of technology to museums from the beginning of his career. I intersected with him around the Getty vocabularies and then the Art Museum Image Consortium whose AMICO landing page still lingers long after the database was aggregated with ArtSTOR. (Michalko)

Why 18th Century Books Looked Like Smartphone Screens

Collision Detection • 2 February 2014

Snippets. Author Clive Thompson says skimming text in tiny increments is the way books used to be read when they were designed to fit easily into a pocket or a palm. Larger-size volumes didn't come into vogue until last century, when publishers felt the need to justify their prices with more substantial tomes. Read on to learn more about the charms of the octavo and duodecimo formats and why "the ergonomics of smartphones as reading devices are not only kind of rad, but historically so."

His enthusiasm for these tiny format volumes is infectious. And the smartphone-octavo comparison is apt on many dimensions. His parenthetical comment—"Thus we find so many books that are really just magazine articles gasified to fill the container"—summed up my feeling about popular business books which is why these guys can make a business by offering you a five page summary. (Michalko)

Wikipedia Could Become 1,193,014 Page Book

Wired • 18 February 2014

Posterity on display. Imagine 1,000 volumes lined up on a shelf more than 10 meters long—that's what the Wikipedia Book Project folks hope to showcase at the annual Wikimania conference in London this summer. The effort seems counterintuitive to the digital fluidity of the online knowledge base, but the promoters are pushing for a tangible manifestation of this monumental volunteer effort. Read on for more on this crowdfunded endeavor and follow its progress on Indiegogo.

Why? Why do this? Mostly because it's self-serving publicity. It's been done before (hat tip to Patrick Confer). (Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, Japanese language content represents what percentage of the HathiTrust Digital Library?

Get the answer.