Acting Editor Roy Tennant
Agada, John "Information Professionals in a Globally Networked Society: An agenda for social skills." FID News Bulletin 46(12) (December, 1996): 366-375. The author says that "...evaluation of information repackaging services is based on the resolution of client needs, rather than [just] on retrieval of documents...." . Indeed, the importance of good communications skills is well-known in reference and document delivery service, especially as the ever-shrinking globe and its multitude of cultures offer us plenty of opportunities for miscommunication. Agada argues that in order to respond, librarians need to focus more on users and less on systems, and they need to build new interpersonal skills to do so. - TH
Woodward, Jeannette "Retraining the Profession, or, Over the Hill at 40" American Libraries 28(4) (April 1997): 32-34. - There is probably no greater challenge facing today's libraries than the need to retrain the profession in the latest information technologies. This article talks about this need, but more importantly, the personal and institutional barriers to doing so. Woodward focuses her attention on the large complement of older workers, whom she asserts the institution may tend to pass over for training and who also may be less motivated to learn. While she suggests some strategies for overcoming these barriers, this is a war that can only be won by individual battles in libraries across the land. What is at stake is nothing less than the future of the profession. - RT
Andrews, Whit. "Planning for Push" Internet World 8(5) (May 1997:45-52. Internet "push" technologies are getting a lot of press these days, and it takes only a cursory explanation to understand why. What would be better, from an advertising or publishing point of view, then to have your message or publication automatically delivered to your customer's desktop the instant it's ready? This article explains push technology, discusses the major products, and compares them in a sidebar. Although the commercial applications are obvious enough, one wonders whether libraries or other organizations could use them to provide current awareness services. - RT
Cortese, Amy. "Where the CyberAction Is: Your Hometown" Businessweek, (3522) (April 14, 1997): 95-98. In an interesting twist, web service providers are discovering a market for "city guides" that sell ad space on the Internet. The hook is the simple fact that people do most of their living, working and playing within fifteen miles of their own homes, and they like web services that help them find the stuff they want -- nearby. Billions of advertising dollars are spent on local markets because of this, and geography-specific web sites are a hot new medium that are giving the local paper a run for the money. But don't write off the local paper just yet: many major dailies have developed popular web sites and are in a position to keep city-guide web services in their pocket. - TH
Engst, Tonya "The Internet Robot's Guide to a Web Site" BYTE 22(5) (May 1997): 63-64. - If you manage a Web site, you need to know what is in this article. Many of you may already know about and use a robot exclusion file which limits the depths to which search engine robots, crawlers, or spiders can plumb, but if you don't this article is a quick and easy explanation of it. Engst also explains another technique you can try if you are not the server administrator but would like to limit robot access to your pages. - RT
Genesereth, Michael R. and Anna Patterson, editors. Proceedings for the Sixth International World Wide Web Conference, April 7-11, 1997, Santa Clara, California. Out of all the conferences related to the World Wide Web, this is the one most oriented to research. Therefore most of the papers are highly technical and somewhat speculative. Some papers may describe the kernels of tomorrow's technology, while others will remain only as evidence that some graduate students did indeed stay off the streets and out of trouble for a time. How do you tell the difference? I'll be darned if I know, but it sure can be entertaining trying to figure it out! - RT
Hayes, Brian. "The Infrastructure of the Information Infrastructure" American Scientist 85(3) (May-June 1997):214-218. -- Have you been wondering where exactly in cyberspace those recent "router problems" occur that have had you drumming your fingers while trying to download the latest patch for your software? Then the present article may be right on target. It describes how messages sent over the Internet are broken up into packages and how they work their way through the layers of the application, transport (Transport Control Protocol or TCP), network (Internet Protocol or IP), data-link, and physical layers of the "protocol stack". It examines how routers have to quickly move these packages on and at the same time calculate the shortest route to other nodes. Packages sent across networks go through "peering points" called Network Access Points (NAP) or Metropolitan Area Exchanges (MAE). In these NAP's and MAE's, which are owned by telephone companies such as Sprint and Worldcom, state-of-the-art routers handle traffic coming in from up to 100 networks over powerful data transmission channels. The article concludes that the growing bandwidth of these channels (soon 2.5 gigabits per second) will require changes in the way routers process packages. - CG
Jenkins, Fred W. and Nancy Courtney "Internet Resources for Classical Studies" College & Research Library News 58(4) (April 1997): 255-259. Classicists were among the first scholars to take advantage of new information technologies, and this month's C&RL News list of Internet resources lists some of the important electronic resources the they have developed. Most of the items on the list are Web-based (including specialized and general web sites, association homepages, directories, electronic journals, and electronic text repositories). There is, however, an extensive list of discussion groups and listservs. - MP
Wang, Chih "Global networking, Internet and the Global Information Infrastructure (GII)" FID News Bulletin 46(12) (December 1996): 356-363. Wang, a professor at the University of Guam, summarizes the development of wide area networks in the United States, and then provides an overview of networking initiatives around the globe. He devotes special sections to major nations (like Russia) and areas (like Asia, Africa and Europe). He then proposes a general plan for a "global information infrastructure" which would address cultural, economic and social issues in various regions. FID, the International Federation for Information and Documentation is sponsoring dialogue about global networking, and Wang references the "Tokyo Resolution of 1994" that FID drafted to improve coordination. - TH
Hurwicz, Mike "Cheaper Computer, Part 2: PCs Strike Back" BYTE 22(5) (May 1997): 81-88. "Thin clients," "network computers," (NCs) "Java stations" or whatever you want to call them have been getting a lot of press lately. In this "less is more" world, computer users would have minimalist workstations that run only the pieces of code they need for specific tasks, which would be delivered via the network to their desktop as they need it. Since such machines can do just fine, thank you, without Microsoft Windows or Intel processors, it was only inevitable that those companies would come up with their solution to the problem that NCs were designed to solve. The solution from their perspective is a "NetPC" that is much like today's PC but with some flexibility removed. Ignore the sidebar "PCs vs. NCs," as it is stacked to make NetPCs look good and NCs not (why, for example, did they not compare price, which is likely to be one of the most important of criteria for comparison?). - RT
Young, Jeffrey R. "New Metaphors For Organizing Data Could Change the Nature of Computers." Chronicle of Higher Education 63(30) (April 4, 1997): A19-A20. Ever felt like you were at odds with computer operating systems, that in fact, they seem to make information retrieval harder? You're not alone. This article profiles interesting new research at Yale and other universities that tries to take advantage of human memory patterns. The Yale program, "lifestreams", stores documents of every type in a searchable "stream" according to when they were created or received. It turns out that this makes intuitive retrieval much easier for people. Interestingly, the on-screen program looks very similar to a Macintosh Hypercard "stack". The various researchers profiled here believe that the desktop is way overdue for improvement, and that the information-space we use should break free of the page metaphor. If you're interested, take a look at the Yale program, which is on the Web at http://www.cs.yale.edu/homes/freeman/lifestreams.html. - TH
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