In this issue:
The Wall Street Journal • August 21, 2010
"Making elephants dance." Some of the most influential managers of recent decades focused on iconoclastic strategies, upending entrenched corporate cultures, undermining bureaucratic structures and bypassing hierarchies in an effort to imbue corporate behemoths with the agility of jackrabbits. But "the weakness of managed corporations in dealing with accelerating change is only half the double-flanked attack on the traditional notions of corporate management. The other half comes from the erosion of the fundamental justification for corporations in the first place," says author Alan Murray. In warning against death-by-complacency, Murray cites management guru Gary Hamel, who said, "The single biggest reason companies fail is that they overinvest in what is, as opposed to what might be."
This article features many of the thinkers that have been featured in ATF reading suggestions—Hamel, Christensen, Drucker. I was pleased and surprised to see the reference to Ronald Coase whose work The Nature of the Firm has been the basis for some speculation about the future of the library in the university and featured in a number of Lorcan's presentations. See his presentation The Network, Library Boundaries, and Systemwide Organization. ( Michalko)
Tenured Radical • August 24, 2010
Review reformation. This somewhat uneven commentary on The New York Times' coverage of the Shakespeare Quarterly's decision to experiment with open peer review makes some common sense suggestions for fixing a deeply flawed system. Shorter review periods, timely publication and the end of "revise and resubmit" are just a start.
Most interesting to me was the shout-out in the commentary to the participant who secured a promise from his dean that the article subjected to the experiment would still count for tenure. That's the shaping force, isn't it? ( Michalko)
The Boston Globe • August 29, 2010
Medieval mashups and more. Author Andrew Petegree (The Book in the Renaissance) discusses the rocky road to a successful 16th century publishing business model and the important role that indulgences played in keeping early printers afloat (until Martin Luther came along).
Is publishing in the Internet age recapitulating the struggle for a business model that it went through at its origins five centuries ago? Maybe. It's an observation with lots of parallels. ( Michalko)
The Kindle Reader • August 26, 2010
Organizing principle. Skim this blog for a useful suggestion on how to arrange your e-reading material, based loosely on the Dewey Decimal System.
Actually I'd skim this article (and the link to the Straight Dope column about the origins, benefits and failings of the DDC) just to get a sense of how the popular press understands classification schemes. Better than I thought. ( Michalko)
Technology Review • August 25, 2010
Remembrance of things past. A new search tool from Yahoo's Barcelona research lab allows users to designate whether they want "what happened" articles covering a past event or future predictions about the same topic. Time Explorer is a useful search tool for journalists seeking new ways to present their information. "For most news search engines, recency is a significant factor for relevance. Time Explorer brings an explanatory perspective to the time dimension, letting users see the evolution of a topic over time," says a Google technology expert.
Click to experiment with the Time Explorer. It's intriguing. And it's heartening to see that this has been built by exploiting advances in name extraction and entity relationships all against an extraordinary cache of New York Times articles which was given to the research team. They can do things that wouldn't be possible with just the article API. The timeline itself is less elegant than the one that emerged from MIT's Simile project (which the NYTimes has used in the past) but the point of the exercise is not really about the timeline. It seems to be about past and future relationships. ( Michalko)
The Atlantic • August 27, 2010
Can computers=sexy? This article provides an overview of films in which the Net plays a starring role, illuminating the hurdles filmmakers face in shooting compelling scenes of people staring into computer screens. If you're looking for a late summer DVD to enjoy, check out some of author Benjamin Mercer's recommendations.
At least the computer screens in current films have moved beyond the green phosphor fixed font . . . ( Michalko)