Sudden Thoughts And Second Thoughts

A Simple Blog

Not for everyone perhaps but I’m keeping an eye on Laws of Simplicity, a new blog by John Maeda (MIT Media Lab) that is based on his new book The Laws of Simplicity. The book focuses on Maeda’s 10 laws of simplicity, and the blog expands on these laws as well as other ways to design simplicity into services, resources, products, and other areas of life and business. Law number 5 in particular is one I need to read more about: simplicity and complexity need each other. I have previously thought of these two as relative but not dependent on one another. The book should tell me more.

Collaboration – A Good Idea That Doesn’t Work

There is ongoing buzz about Surowiecki’s “wisdom of crowds” concept that suggests that groups of people make better decisions than individuals. It’s the thinking behind social collaboration bookmark sites as well, and again suggests that following the crowd’s bookmarks may be a better way to locate information than doing one’s own searching in an engine or library database. An article titled “What’s Next: The Idiocy of Crowds” by David Freedman suggests that while collaboration is a great idea it doesn’t work. I think there are two different ways in which we can think about collaboration. The one Freedman claims is more about groupthink is sometimes evident in the blogiverse. A blogger writes about the genius of a blog post and then before you know it 10 or 20 other bloggers are saying the same thing. The big problem says Freedman is that a lone dissenter is likely to fear voicing his or her opinion because with technology tools backlash can be magnified and distributed far more quickly. So even if there are some flaws in the post – a lone dissenter is unlikely to make that known for fear of instant backlash. The other type of collaboration I recognize is the kind that occurs on our campuses when we collaborate with faculty, colleagues and other academic professionals. In this case I endorse collaboration strongly because I think we accomplish more as partners than as individuals. This type of collaboration, I believe, is really about taking action and getting things done, than just promoting ideas with the intent of getting everyone to think the same way.

Satisfying The New Consumers

According to this article there is a new generation referred to as the Connected Generation, but it sounds a lot like the Millennial Generation to me. Similarities aside, the Connected Generation is identified in this article (part one of two) as having 10 consumer cravings. These include things such as extreme personalization, the importance of design and brands, and adventure. These “10 cravings” come from a new book on this topic. Although the book appears to be geared to corporate marketers it may be a worthwhile read for us as we always need to find better ways to promote our services and resources to our new generations of library users.

When Good Enough Seems Sensible

Jane of “See Jane Compute” has a good post on “Embracing Good Enough“. The gist of the post is that there are times when doing good enough work (in her case it’s teaching) is all right. Jane warns about the problems we create when striving for perfection causes us to miss sight of getting something important done. I think there’s something to be said for recognizing when good enough efforts can make sense. I still don’t think that should be the case for certain types of student research, especially when faculty have worked collaboratively with a librarian to design an effective assignment that demands some challenging work. From my perspective condoning “good enough” student research does a disservice to students even if we think it saves them and us time.

4 thoughts on “Sudden Thoughts And Second Thoughts

  1. RE: Collaboration

    I have been part to commercial and institutional collaboration and I have to say that from what I have seen, collaboration within (or between) University systems works very well. The magic formula, I believe, is not having a bunch of people on a team that do essentially the same thing, but having a group with a wide variety of interests, expertise, and skills that allows for suggestions outside of the norm to be made. It helps to have people who aren’t likely to cede their suggestion just because it’s not the most popular, and having a group that, as a whole, are open to other’s suggestions. I wonder if perhaps the inherent job stability of a University setting might not have something to do with effective collaboration as well. Even if not tenured, employees in Universities generally have more job security than their commercial counterpoints, which means they may feel more open to offering a dissenting opinion.

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