Research Publications Newsletters Above the Fold Above the Fold - 24 June 2014


Chipotle Cups Will Now Feature Stories

Vanity Fair • 15 May 2014

Lit up. Chipotle is sprucing up its image with the inclusion of short-form essays by writers like Jonathan Safran Foer and Toni Morrison on its take-out bags and cups. Foer says the motivating factor for him was "800,000 Americans of extremely diverse backgrounds having access to good writing. A lot of those people don't have access to libraries, or bookstores. Something felt very demographic and good about this." Read on for samples of the authors' two-minute essays.

Clever. Of course, now that you've read them all in this article you may not need to go to that Chipotle near you. What orientation will Malcolm Gladwell's cup have?, he wonders. (Michalko)



Technology Is Taking Over English Departments

New Republic • 2 May 2014

The post-verbal future. As humanities experts enthusiastically embrace data crunching for new insights into their subject matter, the field of "digital humanities" is gaining traction in academic circles. But before signing on, check out Adam Kirsch's critique of some recent literature surrounding this latest mashup. Kirsch warns that while imbuing humanities studies with scientific gravitas may seem appealing, humanists could "wake up one morning to find that they have sold their birthright for a mess of apps.

This is a RILR (Review In Lieu of Reading). Many of you who are supporting or have considered building services in support of digital humanities will be familiar with the works quoted here and with some of the opinions offered up by the reviewer. That said, this is a useful overview shaped by a point of view. The New Republic isn't exactly the popular press but it's interesting to see this topic discussed outside of our academic trade press. (Michalko)



Philosophers of Babel

The New Inquiry • 9 May 2014

Linguists will enjoy this review of the Eurocentric Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon, a celebration of language's unique ability to unite or divide peoples. Recently translated from the French original, the lexicon is described as a "mad, encyclopedic tribute in the grand tradition of bizarre translation projects . . ." Read on for what reviewer Ross Perlin calls "a heady universe of speculative thinking about the meaning of life, the history of ideas, the fate of mankind, and so on."

You know the acronymn "tl;dr." This article is in a category that I have just created which abbreviates to "RILR"—Review In Lieu of Reading. I am mono-lingual and unlikely to ever read this book but I enjoyed the summary and the critique. And finding a phrase new to me—pseudo-speciation. (Michalko)



Visualizing Zero: How to Show Something with Nothing

HBR Blog Network • 1 May 2014

Known unknowns. When making a point with research results, showing what you don't know can be as important as showing what you do, says data visualization specialist Andy Kirk who offers suggestions on making the "slippery attributes of nothingness visible." Read on for some examples of ways to show data that's incomplete or has a zero value.

In the OCLC Research group there has been a lot of interest in data visualization (an early effort led by Roy Tennant is here) so this article struck home. There are some fun examples here so watch out for the time sink. My favorite was the visualization of team sport player numbers—The Uniform Distribution. (Michalko)



New Trends in Office Design

n+1 • Spring 2014

Standing order. Check out this excerpt from Nikal Saval's Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace for a tour of where we've been and where we're going in office design. From chairs to cubies—it's all bad for workers' health and productivity, but are open design and centralized restrooms any better?

This is a longform rant about bad design, repugnant management intentions and failure to recognize the change in work success criteria. It begins with all the awful things that occur from sitting. Yep, sitting. So a few of us are now spending some or all of our office time at standing workstations. I like it but it sure didn't eliminate the 3pm slump as asserted in this article. I pine for a George Nelson Action Office 1 (AO1). And I learned about the Torre David. (Michalko)



Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, what did Lorcan Dempsey receive from the Open University, UK?

Get the answer.