Research Publications Newsletters Above the Fold Above the Fold - 14 August 2014


Digital Surveillance: Like Clueless Guinea Pigs (Frankfurter Allgemeine) • 30 July 2014

How to think about the Surveillance Dividend. Evgeny Morozov critically examines the ascendant idea that all our problems can be solved by collecting information. The more you give, the more you get. He concludes that this path eliminates politics and we are left with only "social physics."

I've been on vacation and purposefully stayed away from the grid. Thanks for the break. It gave me the energy to take on this fairly dense but very provocative article.
Morozov introduced me in convincing fashion to the Surveillance Dividend: the idea that the Internet of Things and Big Data will yield economic abundance, political emancipation, universal prosperity a la the Peace Dividend. He presents a lot of good examples of "informationalizing"—whereby a problem is stripped of its material and political dimensions and is presented simply as a matter of undersupplied or delayed information. If you're poor there's an app that will nudge you about your spending, if you're fat there's a way to mobilize your friends to nudge you towards better habits, feedback loops will change individual energy habits solving the climate challenge, etc. This article is worth your sustained attention. ( ↬ Lorcan Dempsey for the link and his connecting this article to the work of Manuel Castells, who is the likely originator of "informationalize") (Michalko)



How Old Industries Become Young Again

strategy + business • 25 July 2014

What's the opposite of mature? John Sviokla suggests that managers may incorrectly worry about disruption in an industry or sector. What most industries experience as disruption is typically not a sudden change from one source, but the accumulated impact of a range of interacting factors. The more gradual and multifaceted dynamic that underlies it is a phenomenon called dematurity.

I hadn't come across the "dematurity" concept before and wanted to dismiss it as "disruption" in a different spelling. But the phenomenon was identified more than thirty years ago as a way to understand the dynamics of the US auto industry in the face of the Japanese market challenge (Here is an interesting contemporary commentary on the phenomenon.) The five signs that Sviokla offers up to identify that "dematuring" has begun pretty definitively show that libraries have been made young again, e.g., new customer habits—check, new lateral competition—check, etc. (Michalko)



The First Book Written about Millennials Made a Lot of Terrible Predictions • 26 July 2014

Millennials—they got it shockingly wrong. Libby Nelson looks at the first book on Millennials, Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation, which was published in 2000. And it contains a sentence that in hindsight is darkly, hilariously wrong: "For Millennials, the Dow Jones only goes up, people only get wealthier, and America only fights effortless wars."

This is good fun. I was particularly interested because my colleague, Lynn Connaway, has done a lot of work on the information-seeking habits of different generations and refers to the Millennials often. See particularly her work on Digital Visitors and Residents. My favorite miss among Millenial predictions—the one about school uniforms.
P.S. More Millennial you might enjoy: "No, Millennials Are Not All Libertarians" | The Nation and "Reborn in the USA" | Matter — Medium (Michalko)




Innovation: Action That Could Be Considered a Ridiculous Error in Judgement • 29 July 2014

Is creative destruction just stupid? This is a report of a speech by evolutionary economist, Stan Metcalfe, at the International Schumpeter Society conference (yes, creative destructionists have their own conference).

This is a really short bulleted report that highlights some of the correlates of creative destruction that aren't immediately obvious. And it name checks an economist famed for his thinking about the economics of uncertainty and the role of imagination in economic outcomes, George Shackle. (Michalko)



Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, how can Ranganathan's 5 laws be reordered and reinterpreted to reflect the current resources and services available for use?

Get the answer.