Charlie's Diary • April 24, 2012
Gadget churn. Author Charlie Stross's blog points out that the debate over ebook DRM is a distraction from the Moore's Law-driven technological imperative that ultimately dictates the e-reader market. As e-reader platforms evolve, jam-packed with ever more features to justify the upgrades, the platform obsolescence issues facing digital content consumers will mirror those already challenging archivists around the world. Relaxing DRM will help promote markets in the short term, but in five or ten years, will your latest gadget still be able to access your 2012 ebooks?
A nicely-reasoned argument made even more interesting as it was made directly to the management team of MacMillan at their request. I don't understand the book buyer segments well so was surprised to read "One large customer segment buy [sic] 1-5 books a year, usually bestsellers for recreational vacation reading. At the opposite end of the scale, 20% or fewer buy 20-150 books a year, typically midlist titles." The latter are the genre people who buy Mr. Stross's science fiction. He's prolific. ( Michalko)
Wired.com • April 24, 2012
Robo-reporters. Narrative Science is rewriting the way that news is gathered, digested and reported, using increasingly sophisticated algorithms to produce articles indistinguishable from human-authored pieces. But while some are predicting that 90% of news will be churned out by computers in 15 years, the issue of robo-fact-checking remains to be addressed.
Quite remarkable. Right now the key input is whether there is a significant amount of data around which the algorithm can operate effectively. I wondered who wrote all those local high school sports stories in my local giveaway daily papers (believe it or not, we have three which even drew the NYTimes attention ). Maybe it's still a person but not for long. ( Michalko)
The American Interest • April 28, 2012
Pointing fingers. Blogger Walter Russell Mead observes that the academic publishing business model is imploding—doomed by the dual indignities of outlandish pricing and mediocre content. But as much as one may love to critique Elsevier and its ilk, those issues are also eroding the foundations of the Ivory Tower—which is teetering 'neath its own burden of overpriced mediocrity.
We know this but it's good to have somebody jump on the scale and insist that a lot of the dysfunction has been brought on ourselves. It's hard not to think about the previous article and the opportunity for an algorithm to author the rubbish. Can algorithms review other algorithms? ( Michalko)
Crain's Chicago Business • April 23, 2012
American Gothic. Check out this story of an American icon now struggling for survival—the victim of inward-looking "doing more of the same" during the '80s when American shoppers were moving from malls and to big boxes. Blind-sided by Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target, Sears has undergone numerous transformations—and suffered through a stream of CEOs—and is now facing probable liquidation of assets. The moral: keep your eyes on the horizon, not your navel.
This is another schadenfreude article detailing the sad deterioration of an iconic American brand that was important across generations. The other lesson is don't be led by a rich mercurial wacky dictatorial CEO. Well, at least not if you can help it. ( Michalko)
TechCrunch • April 28, 2012
Coloring outside the lines. This tale of one tinkerer illustrates how mastering the skill of planned serendipity gave her "a set of behaviors that have allowed her, over and over again, to generate the chance discoveries, recognize the good ones, and take action on those that matter most." The lessons here are applicable to anyone with an entrepreneurial bent who hopes to get lucky.
I'm not a "Maker" (although I go to the Faire) which probably explains why I never heard of this stuff— Sugru (Irish for play). Now I want some and wish I'd written the tagline "sugru to prototype the future." I also wish I could have figured out how the inventor's name—Jane ní Dhulchaointigh—is pronounced. It's actually not that hard, click for help. ( Michalko)
Above the Fold Quiz
According to an item in this week's News and Views section, librarians should be able to asses what as part of their role in furthering scholarly discourse?
Get the answer.