Sunday, June 17, 2012

MediaWeek (Vol 5, No 25): Coherent Marketing, Analyzing Email, Library Futures and Congress + More

Strategy+Business has an interesting article titled "How to be a more Coherent Marketer" (S+B)
Many of our respondents pointed to the importance of developing senior marketing executives with traits that will enable them to evolve as the scope of their responsibilities changes. For instance, best-in-class senior marketing leaders demonstrate a collaborative and participative leadership style. They tend to be approachable and informal. When making decisions and solving problems, these leaders demonstrate an ability to combine creativity and decisiveness, and are comfortable with complexity and ambiguity. Success comes from encouraging behaviors that yield the desired results. Google Inc. understands this better than most companies. To encourage innovation and agility, the company requires employees to spend 20 percent of their time on projects of their own choosing.
But attracting the right talent is only one part of the equation. People need to see how their roles will evolve over time if they are going to stay with the company and remain productive and creative contributors. Survey respondents who described their company as a leader in its respective market were more likely than self-described market followers to be focused on providing a competitive career path for marketing employees. For example, in shifting its talent system to address a shortage of leaders, Royal Dutch Shell PLC identified talent within the company by focusing on technical skills and leadership ability. The development program was customized for frontline, midlevel, and executive staffers, and was incorporated into the company’s university relations and diversity initiatives.
Interesting analysis showing how information flows within an organization using Enron as an example (Atlantic):
What does this show? This is a picture of how information moved across Enron's hierarchy, as indicated by the thickness of the tie. The authors of the study, Tanushree Mitra and Eric Gilbert of Georgia Tech, have divvied Enron's employees into seven levels, zero being the lowest ("employees") and six being the highest (president and CEO). Level five includes all the vice presidents and directors; level four are the in-house lawyers. In the graphic, you can see that the plurality of the information circulates among the level-zero employees (the thick gray bar connecting the two zeroes). "Employees at the lowest level play a prime role in circulating gossip throughout the hierarchy," the authors conclude. Additionally, a substantial amount of the information that flows up goes straight to the very top, and a substantial amount that flows down goes straight to the very bottom. None of the lines seems particularly mutual: For every combination of rank, there is an imbalance in who is doing the talking and who is doing the listening.
Summary of a talk by Roy Tennant (OCLC) on how libraries need to prepare themselves (Info Space)
Funding for academic libraries is dwindling while competitors are popping up everywhere. Accessing e-content is ridiculously complicated and fraught. Library staff have the wrong skills. Today, students and faculty have lots of easy ways to find the same stuff they used to rely on a library to provide. Tennant said that these issues, along with new mandates for higher ed, are changing the roles of libraries on campuses. Rather than see these challenges as burdens, Tennant told his audience, a group of academic librarians and library students, to see them as an invitation to innovation, a kick in the butt. (My words, not his, but I think he’ll approve.)
Sticking with that theme, from ArsTechnica a discourse on the future of libraries (Ars):
This transition time is one of great opportunity for those involved in libraries, but all transitions, all borders and verges, are places of great vulnerability as well. Grand changes are possible here, but so are operatic failures. The future seems promising. It’s the present that worries some librarians.

“The myth that the information scholars need for research and teaching is, or soon will be available for free online is a dangerous one,” said Bourg, “especially when it is used as an excuse to cut funding to libraries. Right now libraries face enormous but exciting challenges in maintaining print collections and services where they are still necessary, while simultaneously developing strategies for collecting, preserving, organizing, and providing access to digital objects. I fear that if libraries across the nation don’t get the resources we collectively need to meet these challenges that we may be at risk of losing big chunks of our cultural record because of a lack of funding for digital collecting and preservation.
The Library of Congress may be under fire for bad financial management (Gov Executive)
While spending is under scrutiny, the library is seriously stretched for space. No funding for future buildings has been appropriated, and while the collection in Landover, Md., will be able to hold a million books after a completed renovation in October, the library adds 250,000 books and periodicals a year, so the fight for space remains.
The inspector general’s office reported that librarians are storing books on the floor, double- and triple-shelving materials, and keeping rare and valuable collections in nonsecure areas. The Asian Division, which grew out of its designated secure space, recently lost a valuable scroll that was kept in a cage, but the scroll was later mysteriously returned. During the search for the scroll, the inspector general’s office also discovered a number of valuable artifacts left out in vulnerable locations.
Congress appropriated $587.3 million in taxpayer dollars to the Library of Congress for fiscal 2012, a portion of which went to contractors. Schornagel did not reveal which specific contracts had not been sent out for bids, but he did say that library contracts often carried hefty price tags, such as $40 million for an IT contract and more than $50 million for talking-book machines for the blind and disabled.
Novelist Richard Ford interviewed in the Observer
In the book, Canada becomes a sort of promised land, a refuge. There is a line characters cling to: "Canada was better than America and everyone knew that - except Americans." Is that how it feels to you?
I never had much conceptual idea of Canada being better. But whenever I go there, I feel this fierce sense of American exigence just relent. America beats on you so hard the whole time. You are constantly being pummelled by other people's rights and their sense of patriotism. So the American's experience of going to Canada, or at least my experience, is that you throw all that clamour off. Which is a relief sometimes.
How does that sentiment go down among American readers?

Last night, I was in New Orleans at this book party full of local oligarchs, a charity group. I was trying to tell them why I called the book Canada, and I said this stuff about America beating on you and I saw a lot of unfriendly faces in the room. There is this very strong "If you are not for us, you are against us" feeling in America just now. Perhaps there always has been. You are not allowed to complain. Or even have a dialogue. But if a novel is there for anything I believe that is what it has to induce.
From my twitter feed this week:

James Joyce's Ulysses - reviews from the archive

These historical photographs from the New York City Municipal Archive are fantastic:

BookExpo America Report: Book Publishing Begins Anew as a Startup and Growth Industry

Teen inmates pen graphic novel about escaping criminal life

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