Research Publications Newsletters Above the Fold Above the Fold - 25 July 2014


Writing Tips from the CIA's Ruthless Style Manual

Quartz • 8 July 2014

I was sure the CIA had a manual. Just not this kind. So the CIA's style manual got posted after being liberated in a Freedom on Information Act sweep. If you grew up with Strunk & White then you'll have at least mild curiosity about what the CIA tells its writers. Turns out a lot of the same stuff. They want "crisp and pungent" language "devoid of jargon." And they are remarkably clear-eyed about some charged words, c.f. regime.

This has been making the rounds and it is fun to see on what bits different commentators choose to focus. My favorite set of comments from mental_floss: "11 Grammar Lessons From the Leaked CIA Style Book"—featured the redundancy list e.g. "accidentally misfired." (Michalko)




How Business Leaders Can Strengthen American Education

Forbes Leadership • 9 July 2014

I can run my business so I can run your school . . . A short report on the work being done by the Harvard Business School's U.S. Competitiveness Project reflecting on the $4 billion firms invest in US education (out of $600 billion). They are critical of checkbook philanthropy ("have some computers, kids") and think money spent on local coordination would have big payoffs.

So I went and looked at a few of their admirably crisp reports (they are, after all, targeted at business leaders; brevity please). I searched for mentions of libraries. Not many and then in contexts like this:
"In interviewing many education and business leaders for this report, we noted an odd disconnect. Few educators want more school libraries or volunteer teachers from businesses, and many want support with strategic and systemic issues in their schools and districts. At the same time, business leaders want to see faster improvement in student outcomes. Yet many of them give philanthropic dollars for libraries and the like and encourage their employees to volunteer in schools. This disconnect reflects, in large part, poor communication and weak partnerships between business leaders and educators."
- Lasting Impact: A Business Leader's Playbook for Supporting America's Schools, page 25 (Michalko)



Solving the Underpants Gnomes Problem: Towards an Evidence-Based Arts Policy

Createquity • 10 July 2014

Consider the underpants gnomes and libraries. This is a re-run of some thinking about arts policy and support that occurred during 2013 which just came to my attention. The video of the talk by Ian David Moss at the The University of Chicago is worth some of your time. Almost everything he has to say about research and policy efforts in the arts applies to libraries.

How could you not follow a link invoking the underpants gnomes? The very nice thing about this post is that the video is supplemented by new notes and observations from Moss summarizing the issues with "research" in the arts. The description of the grant-making processes in which he's been involved in Issue #6 Allocating Resources will make you cringe in its familiarity. (Michalko)



Working, 40 Years After "Working"

Pacific Standard • 10 July 2014

How do you feel about what you do? This is a tribute and emotional summary of the seminal Studs Terkel volume—Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do—in which he interviewed American workers of all types about their jobs. They showed remarkable self-reflection and insight and the book was a best-seller. Given all the changes looming to the work in our domain this is worth revisiting.

I lived in Studs Terkel's Chicago when this book came out. He was the voice of the working man that formed the backbone of Chicago's self-image. Discontent runs through the Working interviews. I wonder whether librarian job satisfaction has become more volatile over the recent past? (Michalko)



Photographing Fearless Genius at NeXT, Apple, and Others

IEEE Spectrum • 11 July 2014

This is just fun to see.

I haven't yet had a chance to visit the exhibit at the Computer History Museum but I loved reading some of the photographer's anecdotes about Jobs at NeXT Computers (the fanboy site). A mainframe in a dorm room. Indeed. And back in the day we had about half a dozen of them when we were trying to design a system to manage archive and museum information. They were really remarkable. And just too darn expensive. No system got built. But you can watch this video demonstration featuring my departed colleague and the chief designer, Alan Tucker (1995 obituary .pdf). Enterprise groupware for an archive or museum. Seems like a natural thing to build now but not back in 1994. (Michalko)



Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, where can you learn more about a Visitors and Residents approach to evaluating online behavior?

Get the answer.