As we are in a period which encourages sustained reflection on direction, structure, and value it is not surprising to see an upsurge in the volume of 'assisted thinking' that is now available ...
In a US context, CLIR, Ithaka, ARL and other organizations regularly release weighty reports. And, yes, I have pointed to several recent reports from OCLC Research and the RLG Partnership in these pages. More generally, Pew reports appear regularly. And for those willing to pay, Gartner, Outsell, or others, will provide assisted thinking in conveniently short documents.
The UK academic community is particularly well-served in this regard, as JISC, the Research Information Network, and others, regularly commission reports to assist thinking about information management, changing research and learning behaviors, and other topics. Indeed, Neil Beagrie also wondered about impact a while ago, as he noted just how many JISC reports were being published and pointed to a list of the most downloaded:
JISC is quite a large specialist publisher: there have been 28 JISC Reports and 24 JISC Briefing Papers published in 2008 alone so far, so there is stiff competition to get into the listings and I was chuffed to see Keeping Research Data Safe at No. 3. [Neil Beagrie's Blog » Blog Archive » and the Top Five are...]
Luckily, reading opportunities may not yet have exceeded available reading time; however, I wonder if writing opportunities exceeded available expertise a while ago.
Now, these materials are variously targeted at assisted understanding, assisted decision-making, assisted planning, and so on. Some are illuminating, and occasionally something seminal comes along; in some cases, the consultants clearly got lucky.
I tend to track these publications as much as the next person. Lately though, I have been feeling that there is a market for a version of Pierre Bayard's How to talk about books you haven't read for those of us who do not want to let on about how far behind we are in our reading ....
Note: link to Neil's blog post via my colleague Brian Lavoie, who is a co-author of the Keeping research data safe report Neil mentions. One of the better ones ;-)