Monthly Archives: August 2010

Comment of the day plus bonus ‘ouch’ of the day

Comment of the day

I found myself returning back a couple of times to Ken’s comment in reply to Karen Coyle’s post on the III SkyRiver lawsuit against OCLC:

I see your point about the ‘zero sum game’–to a point. However if we take a broader, more inclusive view of the ‘library function’ we’d see it’s a *booming* market-and seems to be practically recession proof. Google’s mission statement defines it squarely as a ‘library’ company. Interviewed in Wired their CEO proudly talks about how they are ‘good now at cataloguing and indexing stuff’. And it’s not just commercial organisations like Google and Amazon that have ‘disrupted’ the conventional library market. Wikipedia and OpenLibrary are part of the growing ‘social economy’. So I think the action is a symptom of a much wider change. ‘Conventional’ libraries and library companies are scrambling around trying to get their slice of the ‘zero sum game’ because they can’t see beyond it and develop radically new services and products. They are leaving it to others. It’s the ‘Innovator’s dilemma’ if you like.

It summarizes nicely some thoughts I’ve been harbouring for some time as well. Apologies to Ken, but I didn’t have the time to get a Blogger account to view your profile to cite your name more fully.

Ouch of the day — ‘We were thinking about librarians’

Tuesday’s Ottawa Citizen carried an article (original here) on the “wild ducks” at IBM’s Almaden labs, where the company gives its employees a significant amount of leeway to run amok with creative and innovative technological explorations – kind of a think lab on steroids.  Here’s an extract that struck me:

Some projects don’t pan out. In the early 1990s, Haas and IBM’s database management team wanted to figure out a way of searching the web, something that didn’t click.

“If we did it right, we might have invented search before Google,” Haas said. “Be we had the wrong model, and we totally missed the boat. We were thinking about librarians.” [my emphasis]

Ouch!

I also like the quote that “We’re different. It takes a different kind of craziness here” — an appropriate statement on what I think we need a bit more of in the library community.