Current Cites (Digital Library SunSITE)

Volume 6, no. 5, May 1995

Edited by Teri Andrews Rinne

The Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720
ISSN: 1060-2356  -

Contributors: Campbell Crabtree, John Ober, Margaret Phillips, David Rez, Richard Rinehart, Teri Rinne, Roy Tennant

[ Electronic Publishing ] [ Multimedia and Hypermedia ] [ Networks and Networking ][ Optical Disc Technology ]

Electronic Publishing

Blumenstyk, Goldie. "Copyright Clearance Center" Chronicle of Higher Education 41(32) (April 21, 1995):A32-A33. -- The Copyright Clearance Center, the non-profit organization that facilitates permission to reprint portions of copyrighted materials, unveiled a Web-based service that will allow its users to read the catalog of rights and fees, report photocopying plans, and calculate the costs of reprinting materials. See []. By going online, the Center hopes to streamline the process by which libraries, colleges and businesses obtain the rights to reproduce portions of books and journals for participating publishers. Furthermore, the Center hopes to encourage publishers to create "electronic books" that could be sold and delivered over the network. Right now, the service includes information on the rights to photocopy about 75,000 titles which covers somewhere between 20 and 50 percent of the items requested. Members of the publishing industry are quoted as saying that they are still reluctant to hand over responsibility for managing reproduction rights until they better understand the market and the technology. -- MP

Boeri, Robert J. and Martin Hensel. "What Good is SGML?" CD-ROM Professional 8(4) (April 1995):108-110. -- Citing the experiences of three publishing groups, Boeri and Hensel provide reasons for CD-ROM publishers to use Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML). They found that using SGML is an economical way to publish, dramatically reducing both cost-per-page and time-to-market. Particularly appealing about SGML is its system independence, which assures data longevity, and that multiple, customizable products can be derived from one SGML-encoded source, reducing duplication of effort. The potential difficulties of using SGML (the transition of production, conversion of legacy documents) are easily and quickly outweighed by the rewards of increased data flexibility and reduced creation cost. -- CJC

Caruso, Denise. "Digital Commerce" The New York Times 144 (April 17, 1995). In this week's column, Caruso muses on the potential profits that publishers could make by going online. Rather than making electronic publications available through online services like America Online to which they must pay a fee, publishers are now realizing that they can publish directly on the World Wide Web. And, with electronic payment systems now being designed, publishers can charge for their services and reap their profits directly. Caruso celebrates the fact that there are believed to be 100 new Web sites created every day and that the Web allows anybody -- from Time-Warner to angst-ridden teenagers -- to produce a homepage. However, she does not question the lack of access to these sites and seems perfectly satisfied with the fact that her favorite Web site was discovered the way most "neat stuff on the Web" is found -- someone sent her the address. -- MP

Lewis, Peter H. "Big Newspapers to Help Locals on Internet" The New York Times 144 (April 20, 1995). -- This story in the Times business section reports on the establishment of the New Century Network, an alliance of eight major U.S. newspaper companies whose goal is to provide technical and consulting support that will allow more than 123 affiliated daily newspapers to develop online services on the World Wide Web. Though some major newspaper companies are not affiliated with the alliance, New Century Network hopes to create common standards and a unified, nationwide system to withstand competition from regional telephone companies and commercial information networks. --MP

Reisman, Richard R. "CD-ROM/Online Hybrids: The Missing Link?" CD-ROM Professional 8(4) (April 1995):67-74 ( -- Reisman argues that since CD-ROM and online, the two most effective and popular technologies in electronic publishing, have complementary advantages and disadvantages (see Wiedemer and Boelio below), the two technologies should be combined into a hybrid system. Such a hybrid system would be formed by embedding a specialized software communications module into a conventional CD-ROM product, maintains all the features of the original CD-ROM while adding an easy to use, inexpensive communications facility to retrieve updated information from a remote service. This approach brings to CD-ROM products the immediacy of online access while retaining none of its disadvantages. -- TR

Wiedemer, John David and David B. Boelio. "CD-ROM Versus Online: An Economic Analysis for Publishers" CD-ROM Professional 8(4) (April 1995):36-42. -- The authors compare the costs, advantages, and disadvantages of CD-ROM and online as an electronic publishing distribution medium. They predict that CD-ROM and online services will co-exist peacefully and even work together in some cases. One of the main selling points of online services is instant access to vast amounts of data that can be updated as frequently as desired. Less time-sensitive material can usually be provided more cheaply by CD-ROM, with its relatively high capacity and cost efficient storage capabilities. The article's accompanying graphic compares the cost of delivering one megabyte of information: online $17, print $3.50, 3.5 diskette $0.55 and CD-ROM $0.0024! -- TR

Multimedia and Hypermedia

Ardman, Harvey. "IBM Digital Library Manipulates Multimedia" Imaging World 4(5): 1, 66. -- With the number of "digital library" initiatives being announced recently, one can become confused as to where the libraries are in all this. IBM's announcement of their own company-wide "digital library" project can be seen as a booster-shot in the arm of digitizing library collections by drawing the interest and support of one of the leading computer companies, or conversely, as a movement that by-passes the professional leadership of actual librarians. A project that is the combination of both is, of course, ideal. IBM is not alone in this project; its interesting partners range from the Vatican and the L.A. Public Library to ViaCom and TelStar. -- RR

Argoski, Jason. "Virtual Museums: The Web Experience" [] -- The author covers many salient points raised in getting a museum to create a presence on the Web. He points out that while much educational information on the 'net has tended to be rather rigorous and academic, museums are often both educational and entertaining - a winning combination with the Web's newer home audiences. Other issues raised are the flexibility of data, intelligent use of hyperlinks, easy navigation and more. This article would be an excellent companion piece to a more technical article for someone starting to plan for any educational institution's public face on the 'net. -- RR

Bowen, Jonathan. "Museums and the Internet" [] -- This is actually a set of slides from a talk the author gave on the Internet, with hyperlinks online, creating a brief reference piece. The slides/pages would be useful to anyone giving a persuasive presentation to a museum board about going "online"; the author has explicitly allowed duplication for non-commercial use. The author also maintains the extensive list of online museums on the WWW Virtual Library at Oxford University Computing Laboratory. See ["]. -- RR

Networks and Networking

"Do We Really Want to Be Wired?" Educom Review 30(3) (May/June 1995):12-23. -- The academic technos on the Educom Review mailing list are getting a surprise in their mailbox this month, in the form of a parody/imitation/ critique of the publishing phenomenon known as Wired. Educom Review editor and publisher John Gehl is openly gleeful at being able to break the rules of readable typography and comprehensible page layout under the guise of mimicking the style of the magazine that the six pieces in this special section discuss. Some contributors argue that Wired is much more than its eye-straining visual experimentation, while others assert it is mere technodazzle without content. But no matter which side of the fence you're sitting on, Gehl states, "Wired has been doing something to pay attention to, if you're interested in information technology, contemporary education, or modern culture." Gehl's audience is likely interested in all three. -- RT

Jacobson, Robert L. "Librarians Agree on Coordination of Digital Plans" Chronicle of Higher Education 41(35) (May 12, 1995) A28. -- The Commission on Preservation and Access of the National Digital Library Federation is a newly-established, non-profit group of leading academic and public libraries whose goal is to set policy on financing the development and access of digitized material. With so many projects that have sprung up recently, the federation hopes to adopt "common standards and best practices" for digitizing and retrieving information in order that electronic materials be as widely available as possible. -- MP

Jacobson, Robert L. "Taming the Internet" Chronicle of Higher Education 41(32) (April 21, 1995):A29-A31. -- This article focuses on efforts by librarians to seek better subject indexing of the ever-growing yet unorganized mass of materials that now makes up the Internet. While some tools and guides to the Internet do exist, most of these resources were created by computer experts, not librarians. Librarians, it is argued, have the professional training and collection development expertise to provide authoritative subject access and analysis of Internet material in the same way that they evaluate and provide subject access to printed materials. The peer review process for printed journals along with collection development policies help users of traditional libraries know which resources are important or reputable; the Internet, however, does not have similar standards. As long as library administrators fail to make organizing the Internet a priority, argues Jacobson, the academic potential of the Internet will never be realized. The article profiles collaborative efforts by New York area librarians to index specific subjects in the Internet by creating subject-based gophers. Also discussed are efforts by the Research Libraries Group, OCLC Online Computer Library Center and the Association for Research Libraries to develop online catalogs to electronic resources as well as their efforts to develop a Web homepage that would provide links to electronic journals. -- MP

Koster, Martijn. "Robots in the Web: Threat or Treat?," ConneXions 9(4) (April 1995): 2-12. -- In this informative article, Koster reviews Web robots (or "spiders," "wanderers," or "worms") which are used for dynamically gathering information on Web resources. He reviews the uses to which robots can be put, the operational costs or dangers of using them, issues relating to the quality of the resulting catalog of resources, ethical questions any prospective Web robot author should consider, and alternative strategies for resource discovery. This excellent overview of the Web robot phenomenon includes a thorough bibliography. -- RT

Ober, John. "Challenges in Teaching and Learning Multimedia," FID News Bulletin 45(4) (April 1995):116-120. -- Current Cites contributor John Ober enumerates the challenges facing those learning and teaching multimedia systems. Specific instructional problems discussed include the difficulty of creating useful metaphors to explain aspects of multimedia systems, the challenge of describing entirely new forms of interaction and work (hypermedia, for example), and the pitfall of being seduced by powerful presentation possibilities (color, sound, moving images) to the detriment of attention to actual content. -- RT

Pountain, Dick. "The British Library's Catalog is On-Line" Byte 22(5) (May 1995): 62-70 ( -- This article describes the system that The British Library built to place their 18 million volume paper-based catalog online. One of their primary goals was to have full-text searching capabilities across the multiple languages and alphabets included in the paper catalog. The focus of this article is on the technology involved in building this system. The hardware (a two-level client/server system using DEC computers with touch-screens) and the software (BRS/Search for the full-text retrieval and Fontographer to handle special characters needed for the various languages and ancient scripts contained in the catalog) are at the heart of this informative piece. The illustrated side-bars and the list of product vendors make this a useful reference for others interested in undertaking a similar endeavor. -- DR

Quarterman, John S. "The History of the Internet and the Matrix," ConneXions 9(4) (April 1995):13-25. -- The author of The Matrix covers the high points of the development of the Internet, starting with Vannevar Bush's oft-cited article "As We May Think" (published in 1945) and ending with January 1995. While Quarterman occasionally interjects opinion and comment on the events he chronicles, it is largely a factual listing of milestones that is an excellent resource for authors and others who need to quickly check a fact. If a book-length Internet history is desired, see the Salus citation below. -- RT

Pacific Bell. ISDN: A User's Guide to Services, Applications & Resources in California 1994. (Also at []) -- Though the title of this document is accurate - it details the services and pricing of ISDN services in California - it also is a very readable introduction to ISDN (credit is given to a similar work produced at France Telecom, Inc.). Given that ISDN is likely to be a major strategy for access to the Internet for the home user and small business user alike, developing a clear understanding of what it is and how it might be priced and made available is a worthwhile activity for all Internet aficionados. Through clear text, inviting graphics, and explanatory sidebars, this small publication fits the bill. -- JLO

Salus, Peter. Casting the Net: From ARPANet to Internet and Beyond.... Addison-Wesley: Reading, MA, 1995. -- In Casting the Net, Salus throws his wide and draws in an eclectic mix of dry network history, interesting characters, and selected RFCs (Requests for Comments) to tell the history of the Internet. Salus, author of the definitive (only?) history of UNIX (A Quarter Century of UNIX), benefits from being close enough to the subject to know the major players but remote enough not to be one. Each of five parts of the book is preceded by a timeline, and the collection of these provides a most useful summary history. "Diversions" are sprinkled throughout, and mainly consist of the more humorous and/or poetic RFCs. If a book-length Internet history is not what you seek, see the Quarterman article cited above. -- RT

United States General Accounting Office. Report to Congress. Information Superhighway: An Overview of Technology Challenges. January 1995. -- While avoiding some of the critical issues still in debate, this "Report to Congress" does serve as a useful tutorial for three main technological issues including security (including privacy), interoperability of services and systems, and the reliability the network as more commerce and mission-critical data is carried on the "superhighway." -- JLO

Optical Disc Technology

Beiser, Karl. "Library of Congress Resources on CD-ROM" Online 19(2) (March/April 1995):94-97. -- Beiser heralds the release of two Library of Congress products available on CD-ROM of special interest to technical services librarians. CDMARC Bibliographic is a multidisc collection of all machine-readable cataloging records distributed by the Library of Congress since 1969, regardless of language or form of materials. The Cataloger's Desktop is a Windows-based CD-ROM featuring sophisticated full-text access to a variety of reference materials helpful in cataloging materials (LC Rule Interpretations, Subject Cataloging Manual: Subject Headings, Subject Cataloging Manual: Classification, USMARC Concise Formats, USMARC Format for Authority Data, and USMARC code lists). -- TR

Bennett, Hugh. "CD-R Growing Pains" CD-ROM Professional 8(4) (April 1995):29-35. -- When compared to the CD-R systems of two or three years ago, today's CD-R systems are considered relatively stable, refined and reliable. Bennett chronicles the technical growing pains of the CD-R industry: buggy firmware, questionable quality of CD-R discs, disc readability problems, and small memory buffers. Although many of these hurdles have been overcome, CD-R is not for everyone or every company--yet. One industry spokesperson advocates a conservative approach when implementing a CD-R system in the workplace: "If somebody wants to dedicate half of one person's full-time salary to use the equipment on a daily or weekly basis, and dedicate internal resources--meaning manpower--to understand the technology and use it on an everyday basis, CD-R is a very wise investment." If, however, a company's interest in CD-R has only one project for which they would only infrequently use the technology, relative cost savings would be marginal. -- TR

Herther, Nancy. "CD-ROM at Ten Years: The Technology and the Industry Mature" Online 19(2) (March/April 1995):86-93. -- It's hard to believe that just ten years ago, CD-ROM drives cost $2000 each and only about a dozen title were available for sale. Today, drives can be purchased for $75 and a conservative estimate of the number of titles available would be in excess of 14,000! Herther celebrates the ten-year anniversary of CD-ROM by reviewing industry trends of the past decade and by looking forward into the next decade. Herther predicts future growth and penetration of CD-ROM technology, a further explosion of in-house CD-ROM production in corporations, and lower prices for better quality products at all market levels. -- TR

Current Cites 6(5) (May 1995) ISSN: 1060-2356 Copyright (C) 1995 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley. All rights reserved.

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