But What Would We Do Without a Strategic Plan?

Interview in NYT with the author of the book I keep telling everyone to read.

See Also

Sociology of Information in the News

A flurry of sociology of information items in today’s New York Times:

  1. “Book Lovers Fear Dim Future for Notes in the Margins”
  2. In a digital world, scholars see an uncertain fate for an old and valued practice.

  3. “Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter”
  4. Long-form blogs were once the outlet of choice, but now sites like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr are favored.

  5. “TV Industry Taps Social Media to Keep Viewers’ Attention”
  6. As more and more people chat on Facebook and Twitter while watching TV, networks are trying to figure out how to capitalize.

  7. “100 Years Later, the Roll of the Dead in a Factory Fire Is Complete”
  8. For the first time, the names of all the victims in the 1911 Triangle Waist Company fire will be read after a researcher’s identification of six unknown victims.

An Interesting Web Book "App"

What reminds you of what? When one reads — or hears about — a book, one almost unconsciously make connections — this book is a little bit like that book. When you tell someone you are interested in some topic s/he will often say, “well, then you should have a look at ….”

I just stumbled across a web resource, http://www.librarything.com/, that implements this as a combination of a personal library catalog and a social network.  It allows you, virtually, to surf your own library and connect from books you know to books that are related to it. Users “tag” books creating a interesting way to slice through the database. Try these, for example: sociology, history, philosophy, economics. And it keeps an eye on where a given book is available — libraries, bookstores, online digital sources, used book networks (like abebooks.com).

When I played around with it looking for books on the sociology of information I got a bookshelf that nearly mirrored my the books in front of me on my study’s shelves, but with a few titles I was unfamiliar with :

The Economy and Information : Does More Info Make the World a Better Place?

This week’s serial superlatives in things economic — each day the “events of recent days” were “the most stunning thing to happen since the thirties” — has led to lots and lots of hand wringing and calls for new kinds or amounts of regulation. And a lot of what folks are saying has to do with information — more of it, in public, is what we need!

This brings to mind two things I’ve recently read. One is a 2007 book by Fung, Graham, and Weil called Full Disclosure: The Perils and Promise of Transparency (Cambridge University Press). It is a report on an empirical study of 18 cases of what they call “targeted transparency” — legislated requirements that corporations (or other private entities) disclose specific information so that the public can make informed choices about their products, services, etc. They looked at the history of disclosure as public policy, why it emerged when it did, whether it’s likely to continue to expand, and whether, and under what conditions, it works. In a nutshell, they conclude that it works well in some cases, not at all in others. The process is always political and it works when the results of the political process produce a system that is “user oriented” and “sustainable.” I’ll post a full review of the book here in the near future.

The other piece I was reminded of was by Malcom Gladwell in a January 2007 New Yorker: “Open Secrets: Enron, intelligence, and the perils of too much information.” In it Gladwell builds on, among others, the work of Yale law professor Jonathan Macey who, in a review article about the Enron debacle, argued that the problem was not information that Enron hid, but the fact that no one could put together the puzzle pieces represented by the information they disclosed.

I recommend both Fung et al. and the Gladwell piece as grist for your thought mill this week.

See also this old post on the “is more better” question.