Bibliolescence: Introduction

Old bookI’ve recently become interested in the relationship between books and obsolescence. I’ve done some reading and some thinking, and now it’s time to do some writing: hence the neologism in the post title.

Bibliolescence refers to a book, or a particular edition of a book, being or becoming obsolete. I won’t use it to refer to the book becoming an obsolete medium for content (which I don’t see happening any time soon, by the way).

Bibliolescence also refers to a series of posts, which starts with this one. The series will get properly under way with thoughts on the book Made to Break, to which I first referred earlier this ,month. To wrap up the current post: thanks to Neal Gillis for the photo.

Save Net Radio

SaveNetRadio.orgI’ve been meaning to support this campaign, and was recently reminded to by Fred. One issue is that, to play music, web radio is being charged much more than regular or satellite radio. Royalty rates for webcasters are due to more than triple.

This unfair and drastic increase will go in to effect on May 15. To add to the urgency, it will be retroactive to the first of the year.

Cupholders 2.0

The history of automobile interior design has been one of incorporating nonessential features that subsequently became indispensable… Today, that feature is the car cup holder.

When shopping for web applications, what kind of cupholders do you look for?

The Web 2.0 cupholder currently causing conversation and controversy is offline access. The idea of offline web applications is getting an undue amount of attention, as David of 37signals put it. He put the same point in stronger words as well, and there are now over 200 comments after his post.

I have a couple of personal cupholder quirks. One is that I want to be able to print out my online calendar in a format that folds down to pocket size. So, right now, the only calendar I’ll drive is Scrybe. A cupholder like this would be easy for other calendar services to add, perhaps via alliance with PocketMod.

When it comes to documents, I want an adjustable cupholder for my paragraphs. I want a new paragraph to start when I hit Enter, and I want to be able to specify what that means in terms of formatting (indent the first line of a para, leave a blank line before it, etc.). If Google Docs gave me this, I’d use it a lot more frequently.

I’ve been asking for this since 2005, when the service was neither owned by nor named after Google, so it’s just as well I haven’t been holding my breath for it. I guess Writely/Google regard it as a cupholder that most drivers can do without.

To live up to the 2.0 in the title, I’ll close by:

Blogging for $ (Boston Globe)

Today’s Boston Globe includes an article on Blogging for Dollars. A summary (some blogs make significant money, most don’t) doesn’t do the article justice, since there are a few ways in which it went beyond being an entry-level account for the great unblogged. First, there are some numbers I don’t think I’d seen.

As the number of blogs has exploded to more than 57 million today, the blog ad marketplace has also surged — from $100,000 in 2002, to an estimated $36.2 million in 2006, according to PQ Media. Blog advertising is expected to grow to $300.4 million in 2010.

Second is a quote that surprised me when I first read it, and noted the source. “A lot of the blogosphere does not make sense if viewed from the point of view of a business model… Blogs remain, I believe, primarily conversational.” That’s David Weinberger, noted for (among other things), his association with the Cluetrain thesis: “Markets are conversations.”

Third are references/links to bloggers and blogs such as the following: Darren Rowse, the writer behind; Adam Gaffin, blog master at Boston community news website (and fellow Roslindale resident).

Visible Path Isn’t, Unless You Use Outlook

As a post title, I rather like VisiblePath is a lot like LinkedIn, except it’s useful. As a description of relevance to me, the title I use for the current post is more accurate. A service that depends on an Outlook plugin might as well not exist if, like me, you don’t use Outlook.

I did take a look at the VisiblePath site for other plugins, or other ways to use the service if you don’t use Outlook, but none were… visible. Following the link in the first paragraph of this post will lead you to other points about VisiblePath, both pro and con.

How Dumb Can a Donkey Be?

If you were appointing people to the 2008 Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC), would you select the Director of Communications for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)? Maybe if you were a Republican. Certainly not if you were Cory Doctorow (posting at BB).

The RIAA is the most hated “company” in America… The RIAA’s campaign of suing thousands of American music lovers has been the single biggest PR disaster in recent industrial history — which is why [Jenni] Engebretsen’s employer beat out Halliburton, Blackwater and Wal-Mart for the coveted “Worst Company” slot.

The point isn’t just that Engebretsen works for a despicable organization. It’s that, had she been an effective Communications Director, the RIAA probably wouldn’t be more hated than Halliburton. Or perhaps, for the RIAA, “communications” means lawsuits or threats thereof.

Teen Shopping Survey: Scary Snippets

Only one of these really scares me, while the others just strike me as somehow silly.

  • 25 percent said they would pay $500 for the iPhone.
  • Hollister, a concept of Abercrombie & Fitch, took the top spot as the most frequent overall [shopping] destination for the fifth consecutive survey.
  • We think the industry is going through a gradual maturing of a strong denim-driven fashion cycle.

Each of the above quotes comes from a Piper Jaffray study of teen shopping and brand preferences. The one that scares me is the one also quoted by Paul.

Made to Break

Justin posts that Made to Break is on his reading list, and I’ve seen this book mentioned a few other places recently (although I can’t remember where). I found my way to an interview with the author, Giles Slade, by Carrie McLaren at Stay Free!

[Slade argues that] companies profit more when products have shorter lifespans – because they sell more products that way. This is no conspiracy theory but, rather, simple economics.

I don’t think that the economics are that simple. If a firm makes a product with a short lifespan, it runs multiple risks. First, customers may buy a competing product with a longer lifespan. Second, at the end of the short lifespan, customers may replace he product with one from a competitor. Third, the firm will gain a deserved reputation for low quality.

I’m not denying that there are cases of obsolescence planned by firms. For example, it might make sense for Apple, given that Apple can currently be confident that an iPod will be replaced with another iPod. But then it can be argued that “obsolescence” arises from rapid improvements in performance and value, and hence from how much better this year’s iPods are than last year’s.

It’s an interesting issue, and one I’ll follow. Unless it is rendered obsolete by newer and more interesting issues…

Made to Stick

The American soldiers set off from the well-protected Green Zone of Baghdad, along one of the most treacherous roads in Iraq. Destination? Pegasus. Mission? Dinner.

Pegasus is an army mess hall. Floyd Lee, the officer in charge of Pegasus, sees himself as “in charge of morale.” He sees food service as a means of improving morale, rather than as an end in itself, or even as a means of fueling the war effort.

That is one of the stories told by the Heath brothers, Chip and Dan, in their book
Made to Stick. The book is about why some ideas stick in the mind, while others don’t.

Chip and Dan identify six principles of stickiness: Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions, and Stories. The Pegasus example comes from the Emotions chapter, but also illustrates each of the other five principles. (For example: of course it’s credible – you read it on my blog!)

I strongly recommend this book. It is (as the brothers Heath themselves put it) a complement to Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. It is similar in style, in that it is very readable, yet well grounded in research (much of which is duly end-noted). While Chip and Dan use the corny acronym SUCCESs for the principles, they have the decency to own up to the corn content.

Yes, there is a Made to Stick web site. And yes, it includes a blog; and yes, as some of us are pleased to note, it uses WordPress. Talking of blogging, my putting this post in the Business category reflects the authors’ backgrounds, my background, and my intention to make most posts to this blog fit in to one of seven categories. It doesn’t mean that the book only applies to business ideas (and indeed, the sticky story at the top of the post doesn’t have a business setting).