Current Cites (Digital Library SunSITE)

Volume 7, no. 7, July 1996

Edited by Teri Andrews Rinne

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

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

[ Electronic Publishing ] [ Networks and Networking ] [ Optical Disc Technology ] [ General ]

Electronic Publishing

Corthouts, Jan and Richard Philips. "SGML: A Librarian's Perception" The Electronic Library 14(2) (April 1996): 101-110. -- This article profiles several innovative digital library projects, including applications which use SGML for bibliographic control (as an alternative to MARC), information access and full-text presentation. While the implementation of SGML projects can be a complicated and costly venture, with these prototypical projects the authors present possible strategies and motivation for libraries to invest in "future-proofing" information with SGML. -- CJC

Harter, Stephen P. and Hak Joon Kim. "Electronic Journals and Scholarly Communication: A Citation and Reference Study" ( html) -- This paper was delivered at the ASIS Midyear Conference in May 1996. It presents the results of an empirical study that focused on the impact of the electronic journal in the academic community. The stated purposes of the study were to assess accuracy and completeness of e-journals, identify the extent to which e-journals are cited, identify academic fields of study that most often use e-journals, identify e-journals most often cited and record and analyze demographic characteristics and access problems. As one might expect, along with the detailed statistical tables, there are plenty of links to e-journals provided. -- DR

Jacobson, Robert L. "Colleges Urged to Protect Rights in Licensing Negotiations" Academe Today: This Week's Chronicle (July 5, 1996) :A5 ( -- With publishers now making full-text resources available electronically, a re-wording of use contracts for scholarly material is needed. Ann Okerson, associate university librarian at Yale University believes that many universities have signed contracts with publishers that are too expensive and unreasonably limit use. Some of the things that are being bought may well have fallen into the "fair use" arena. She urges academic libraries to promote users rights and negotiate with publishers for contracts that meet the needs of their patrons. Terms negotiated now may serve as precedents for the future availability of electronic resources. One way to keep costs down is to form a consortium with other institutions and sign group contracts. -- CJC

Okerson, Ann. "Who Owns Digital Works?" Scientific American ( 275(1) (July 1996): 80-84. []-- Okerson introduces readers to developments in copyright and intellectual property issues involving digital technology. She draws a brief history of copyright, then focuses on the U.S. Federal NII ([U.S] National Information Infrastructure) committee on copyright led by Bruce Nehman. The white paper from that group, Okerson argues, covers the interest of copyright and content owners, but does not allow for adequate fair use by libraries, educators and others. She notes however that this committee has since started to work with the public sector to address these issues in a second report, being developed and evaluated now, called the CONFU (Conference on Fair Use) paper. Ultimately without adequate provision for fair use, the Internet will cease to be a rich resource of freely available information for education and research, and instead will become even more restrictive and pricey than print and broadcast media. The article includes a short bibliography of reading on the topic. -- RR

Networks and Networking

Beaulieu, Micheline and Christine L. Borgman eds. "Current Research in Online Public Access Systems" JASIS 47(7) (July 1996): 491-492. -- This special topic issue of JASIS includes six articles which range in focus from user behavior, query models, search and retrieval effectiveness and online evaluation methods. Particularly interesting is "Cheshire II: Designing a next-generation online catalog" by Larson, McDonough, O'Leary, Kuntz and Moon, which details a project using an SGML-based probabilistic search engine and Z39.50 with a graphical user interface to provide full-text and multimedia, as well as bibliographic information. -- CJC

Wilson, David O. "Experts Differ on Security Threat Posed by Java Computer Language" Chronicle of Higher Education 62 (44) (July 12, 1996): A19-A21. -- Wilson summarizes some of the problems that can be caused by over-rambunctious Java applets. These are mainly in the "gag" category and flow between friends on geek-destruct, but they could be serious for less sophisticated Internet users. For example, "poison applets" can trick your PC into yielding passwords, or delete data from hard drives; and since "nice" applets need substantial access to perform their function, it's hard to spot the ones with a bad attitude. Many computer scientists see no cause for worry, while others advise basic precautions, such as turning Java "off", or accepting applets only from known persons. Meanwhile Javasoft (Sun Microsystem's Java unit) is busy patching and reworking Java for better security. Bottom line: take Dr. Ruth's advice and have a nice time, but play it safe with strangers. -- TH

Optical Disc Technology

Bell, Alan E. "Next Generation Compact Discs" Scientific American ( 275(1) (July 1996): 42-46. -- As the title suggests, the next generation of CDs has arrived in the form of yet another acronym to add to the optical disc alphabet soup: DVD, Digital Versatile Disc. Bell's article provides a general overview of the new standard which is the result of an unprecedented agreement reached late last year among rival groups of international companies such as Philips, Sony, Toshiba and Time-Warner. The new generation of optical disc reader will play both existing CDs and DVDs. The DVD specs are quite impressive: it can store about 14 times more information than current CDs can; the rate at which the first-generation DVD player plays back data-- 11 million bits per second--matches that of a fast 9X CD-ROM player, setting a new benchmark for performance. A DVD FAQ is available at -- TR

Gunshor, Robert L. and Arto V. Nurmikko. "Blue-Laser CD Technology" Scientific American ( 275(1) (July 1996): 48- 51. -- This second article in Scientific American's "The Future of CD Technology" series is a highly technical discussion of blue-laser research. Currently the lasers inside of CD players utilize infrared light that can read pits in a CD disc no smaller than a micron in size (roughly 1/50th the diameter of a human hair); blue diode lasers can read even smaller pits. For example, an audio CD could store all nine of Beethoven's symphonies, instead of just one. The ramifications for the world of multimedia are staggering. However, please keep in mind that this research is still in the preliminary stages, and we won't be seeing the results at your local music store any time soon. -- TR


Browning, J. "New Stars for the New Media" Scientific American ( 275(1) (July 1996): 31. -- This article is a short foray into the effect of new technology on leisure time in America. The argument is for the insertion of some charisma into the Internet and other new digital media (ala early television); however another opportunity is implied as well. The article cites studies that show that Americans are spending more time with new media, and less with television (the numbers are still far from equal, but are changing). In fact, exposure to new media creates enhanced criticism of old media content among the study group, presenting the other opportunity: for educators and scholars to provide a higher ratio of new types of educational content than exists in old media. There seems to be a receptive audience for it. -- RR

"Central Intelligence Agents" The Economist 339 (7970) (June 15-21, 1996): 76-77. -- In the mud-wrestling match between human intellect and virtual agent prototypes, the software is usually found wanting. However, for a generally positive review of virtual agents research, take a look at this article. Scientists are abandoning past efforts to recreate the human brain, and instead are focussing on smaller and more practical goals. Development of virtual agents now falls into two broad categories: "rule-based" systems and "collaborative filtering". Recent successes include music recommendations ("Firefly") and virtual shopping ("Shopbot" and "BargainFinder"). The authors include a helpful history of artificial intelligence and its gradual evolution from a "scientific" bias towards a more pragmatic, engineering approach. -- TH

"Categories for the Description of Works of Art" ( -- This document, published by the AITF (Art Information Task Force, a joint program of the Getty Information Institute and the College Art Association) outlines a very thorough conceptual model for describing works of art that can be used as a standard or guideline by librarians, database developers, museums, publishers, researchers, and anyone else who may need to devise or use formal ways to describe art objects. The standard is content-based and is not a technical standard. It will help art and humanities information to be used and exchanged more easily in the networked environment, as new systems use the model to organize art information thus giving researchers a consistent framework, or it is used as a mapping tool between different systems for sharing information across systems. Anyone needing to organize, use, or exchange art information in any type of system, from database to exhibition labels should read this standard. The article describes the concepts, goals, and history of the categories, as well as provides a complete online guide to them. -- RR

Nardi, Bonnie, and O'day, Vicki. "Intelligent Agents: What We Learned at the Library" Libri 46(2) (June 1996). -- The good news about Nardi and O'day's study of intelligent agents and human interaction at the reference desk was cited in last month's issue of Current Cites as reported in the Christian Science Monitor. The report itself is even better still! If you are interested in a first-class analysis of reference as a valuable business skill, don't miss this ground-breaking research. ( Nardi is an anthropologist and Apple Fellow. Apple's Advanced Technology Group ( set out to study how intelligent agents should be designed to mimic reference service. In doing so they discovered a world of highly nuanced interpersonal and research talent that the current generation of software can't touch with a ten foot pole. Intellectually rigorous yet entertaining, the authors perform two services for information specialists: they demystify how intelligent agents function in plain english, and they describe the rich, intellectual process of the reference interview. -- TH

Current Cites 7(7) (July 1996) ISSN: 1060-2356 Copyright (C) 1996 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley. All rights reserved.

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