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Above the Fold

A weekly newsletter for the changing world of libraries, archives and museums

August 12, 2010
Vol. 3, No. 27
ISSN: 1943-1457

In this issue:

 

Delusions, Illusions, and the True Costs of Digital Publishing  (External site)

The Scholarly Kitchen   •  July 28, 2010

Ready, set, hike! Kent Anderson looks at the music business as a mature digital industry and predicts a significant price hike in publishing prices once digital becomes the dominant medium. After all, Apple recently raised the price of a single download from 99 cents to $1.29 for some popular tunes—a 30% increase—with nary a peep from customers. But Anderson says the real problem is that publishers are trapped in the mindset of the print business model, which bears very little resemblance to digital distribution realities.

Rethinking the pricing approach to publishing digital content along the lines of software (rather than manufacturing) is an interesting challenge to the common wisdom. Especially now that distribution and manufacturing have been wrested away from publishers. See Kent's earlier post on that topic where you'll also find an interesting graph about US household spending on digital access, which is now over $1000 per year. That number is more than the annual income of 44% of the world's population (according to Global Rich List). We breathe rarified air. ( Michalko)

 

Why Your Customers Don't Want to Talk to You  (External site)

Harvard Business Review Blogs   •  July 28, 2010

Relationship blues. It turns out that self service is preferred not only by businesses trying to trim the bottom line—it's also the number one choice for many customers. But the underlying story is a bit worrisome, say Matt Dixon and Lara Ponomareff—customers may prefer self service because they don't really want to have a "relationship" with companies, and "for managers hell-bent on deepening relationships with their customers, that's a sobering thought."

Another explanation for those dropping reference statistics? Perhaps, although I don't think you need this theory to account for that change. As Jeff Trzeciak noted upon the closing of the last of the McMaster University Library reference desks: "a decline of nearly 2/3 from our high, coupled with 18% of the assistance now being virtual and only 40% being research-related. Sounds like a candidate for transformation if you ask me." ( Michalko)

 

Higher Education Is Overrated, Skills Aren't  (External site)

Harvard Business Review Blogs   •  July 29, 2010

Knowledge vs. skills. Pundit Michael Schrage says that as educational credentials increasingly are seen as disconnected from professional competence, jobseekers' skills and networking are becoming primary predictors of success.

I'm not sure college education will be the next bubble to burst (although the chart here wants you to arrive at that conclusion), nor do I think this set of criticisms is new. I heard something similar from my father ;) Skills acquisition, cohort development and personal growth can certainly be pursued separately, but traditional, four-year residential higher education will continue to be a powerful but expensive way to acquire all three. ( Michalko)

 

So-Called "Digital Natives" Not Media Savvy, New Study Shows  (External site)

ReadWriteWeb   •  July 29, 2010

Naïve natives. A new study shows despite their ability to text message at lightning speeds, college students are decidedly handicapped when it comes to judging the credibility of search results. While this comes as no surprise, it is a reminder that media literacy education is a vital service we can help provide.

Apropos the prior article's comments on skills acquisition, where and why do students become media literate? (OMG, anybody can be a dot org?!) ( Michalko)

 

Mao, King Kong, and the Future of the Book  (External site)

Triple Canopy   •  Issue #9

A trip down memory lane. Bob Stein, founder of the Institute for the Future of the Book, reminisces about his days with LaserDiscs, HyperCard and CD-ROMs.

Read this. If you weren't around when these were happening then you'll be amused and amazed at what Stein and others were doing (did Alan Kay really draw those pictures of an "iPad" in 1967!?) and the extent to which we stand on their shoulders. The reminder about Laurie Anderson's "Puppet Motel" was particularly laden. I remember having that and thinking it was brilliant. Of course, it's now unobtainable and likely unplayable. The music without the immersive, weirdly unsettling environment can be purchased, and you can see the Voyager demo for the CD-ROM. ( Michalko)

 

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Above the Fold is a Web-based newsletter published by OCLC Research. It has been developed to serve a broad international readership from libraries, archives and museums. News items are supplied weekly under contract by Suzanne Douglas, Ibis Communications Inc. Research items are supplied by staff in OCLC Research. Please send comments and questions about this or other issues to rlg@oclc.org.
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