Acting Editor Roy Tennant
Cameron, Robert D. "A Universal Citation Database As a Catalyst For Reform in Scholarly Communication" First Monday 2 (4) (April 7, 1997) [http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue2_4/cameron/]. Cameron lays out a proposal for a universal, Internet-based, bibliographic and citation database. It would link all scholarly work ever written, no matter what the format. This seems a little ambitious, but it's an interesting solution to information retrieval over networks, and very much in line with digital library strategies that would blend together primary materials and search protocols. Stepping back from the abyss of the "big idea", the author names a more feasible initial goal: a "semi-universal citation database. - TH
Dempsey, Lorcan and Rachel Heery. A Review of Metadata: A Survey of Current Resource Description Formats Work Package 3 of Telematics for Research project DESIRE (RE 1004) (19 March 1997) [http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/metadata/DESIRE/overview/]. Stu Weibel of OCLC, who has been laboring in the metadata orchard for years, calls this report "the single most comprehensive survey of metadata standards and issues that I am aware of." Such strong endorsement should make all those interested in metadata issues on the Internet run, not walk to the site where this report can be found (the excellent site maintained by the UKOLN Metadata Group at http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/metadata/). - RT
McNab, Rodger J., Lloyd A. Smith, David Bainbridge and Ian H. Witten. "The New Zealand Digital Library MELody inDEX" D-Lib Magazine (May 1997) [http://www.dlib.org/dlib/may97/meldex/05witten.html]. - It is every librarian's dream of a music retrieval system -- hum a few bars of faintly remembered melody and up pops a list of tunes that match or nearly match your imperfect performance. Unrealistic? Impossible? Not really, says the New Zealand Digital Library (http://www.cs.waikato.ac.nz/~nzdl/). A group of researchers there have a prototype music retrieval system called MELDEX (http://www.cs.waikato.ac.nz/~nzdl/meldex) that promises to do just that. How they are doing it, the problems they face, and how they (mostly) are overcoming them is what this article is about. The technical details are for the most part understandable to someone new to music retrieval, and some of the problems they face will sound familiar to anyone with retrieval experience of any kind (does it come as any surprise that users are often found to be inaccurate when singing a few bars of their favorite tune?). By some stroke of luck, it turns out that melodies are recognizable regardless of the key in which they are sung. I guess there's hope for those of us who are musically challenged after all. - RT
Peters, Carol and Picchi, Eugenio. "Across Languages, Across Cultures: Issues in Multilinguality and Digital Libraries" D-Lib Magazine (May 1997) [http://www.dlib.org/dlib/may97/peters/05peters.html]. Digital Library research and development has, until recently, tended to avoid the issues of multilingual presentation and access. However, we can no longer assume that our audience is for the most part English speaking. In this unusually clear article, Carol Peters and Eugenio Picchi present the major issues involved in creating a multilingual interface for your digital library environment and some of the approaches presently under development. Having had, recently, to deal with a number of non-English character sets for a large project, I especially appreciated the authors coverage of multiple language recognition and representation in HTTP and HTML. It is, by far, the best summary of the direction standards are taking that I have read. Also covered here are the approaches to multilingual retrieval now being experimented with, including machine translation, knowledge-based techniques (dictionaries and thesauri), and corpus-based techniques. Finally Peters and Picchi present a practical example incorporating thesauri and digital corpora which seems to have promise for large collections. - KH
Price-Wilkin, John. "Just-in-Time Conversion, Just-in-Case Collections" D-Lib Magazine (May 1997) [http://www.dlib.org/dlib/may97/michigan/05pricewilkin.html]. - In this article, Price-Wilkin builds a compelling case for storing digital library resources (whether pages of text or images) in the richest possible format (for example, SGML-encoded text or high-resolution TIFF images) and converting them on-the-fly for display. This enables the University of Michigan' Digital Library Production Service (DLPS) to easily deliver the best possible format given the user's capabilities. As the Web evolves, simple changes to the conversion programs enables the delivery of a format that can take advantage of new capabilities. The DLPS reports that conversion happens fast enough to be undetected by the user -- an essential characteristic of any just-in-time conversion scheme. Another benefit of storing highly-structured versions of digital documents is the ability to repurpose documents in various ways. Examples offered include the ability to recombine portions of different documents into new ones or to display only the hierarchical view desired (for example, section headings). All digital library developers would do well to consider the techniques Price-Wilkin and others have pioneered. - RT
Dougherty, Dale. "The XML Files: Multidimensional Files That Go Beyond HTML" Web Review (May 16, 1997) [http://webreview.com/97/05/16/feature/]. Murray Maloney, co-author of "SGML and The Web," is quoted here as saying "HTML is the low-end Volkswagen of markup languages and SGML is the high-end Rolls Royce." The eXtensible Markup Language (XML) is an attempt to create a mid-range vehicle that does more than HTML but at less of an overhead cost than SGML. This Web Review cover story is actually four pieces, including a Real Audio interview with Steve Bray, who has been instrumental in the development of the XML specification, a transcribed interview with Murray Maloney (a member of the XML Working Group), and a guide to XML resources. Take my word for it, XML has the potential to be big. Real big. If you publish information on the Internet you cannot afford to be ignorant of XML. - RT
Giussani , Bruno. "A New Media Tells Different Stories" First Monday 2(4) (April 7, 1997) [http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue2_4/giussani/]. Giussani is a Swiss writer who frequently contributes to the New York Times. In this article, he tackles a subject that is very much on the minds of newspaper publishers, namely, what papers will be like in five years? He explores the many angles of this white-knuckle question with considerable flair. Even when he declares the obvious ("The newspaper is no longer a product. It becomes a place"), the surrounding discourse is original and thought-provoking. He recognizes that online readers behave differently from newspaper readers (some surf, some search, some cherry-pick), and one hopes that his publishers are listening to him in this regard. It's nice to see a journalist assessing how to adapt the time-honored newsrag with the radically different world of the Net. - TH
Goldhaber, Michael. "The Attention Economy of the Net" First Monday 2(4) (April 7, 1997) [http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue2_4/goldhaber/]. Goldhaber writes in his abstract that "if the Web and the Net can be viewed as spaces in which we will increasingly live our lives, the economic laws we will live under have to be natural to this new space. These laws turn out to be quite different from what the old economics teaches, or what rubrics such as 'the information age' suggest." He goes on to argue that value on the Net is defined by the attention span of viewers, and this is quite different -- perhaps even incompatible -- with an industrial-money-market. Commercial success will come first to those who understand how to measure attention spans, and to tailor products and services to the varying styles of attention that internet users possess. - TH
Bruce, Roger. "Digital Photography - Liquifier of Museums?" Image 39(3-4):10-17. This is an exploration of the relation between the utility of an image of a thing and the thing itself; especially in the case when the thing itself is not a utilitarian object (i.e. art). Rather than purely theoretical however, the article also considers the practical, political and economic aspects of marketing and educating in the new networked environment (especially when one will be able to search vast databases of images, rather than the images of just one institution as is often now the case). Will the role (and thus need) for the singular institution be diminished? Many museums (and other repositories of visual material) approach the Internet cautiously; unsure whether the proliferation and dissemination of images of objects in their care will in effect replace all need to experience the original in an era that seems perfectly satisfied with simulacra, or whether they will take the significance of the original outside the constraining walls of the museum and ignite curiosity on a broader scale. The author is optimistic for museums and archives using the Internet but considers the issues broadly. - RR
Tufte, Edward R. Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative. Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press, 1997, 151p. Tufte describes his last book, Envisioning Information, as a book about the visual depiction of nouns or static information, and this book is about the visual depiction of verbs or dynamic information. The timing couldn't better coincide with the evolution of the web toward more multimedia/dynamic information, and Tufte's books provide a non-technical guide to the intelligent and efficient display of all types of information, from scientific and business statistics to museum kiosks to weather analyzing videos, useful for print or multimedia and online publishing. - RR
Hermans, Bjorn. "Intelligent Software Agents on the Internet" First Monday 2(3) (March 3, 1997) [http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue2_3/ch_123/]. This title is actually comprised of seven chapters, which together make up almost the entire March issue of First Monday. It will tell you all you will ever want to know about the current state of intelligent agents development, including the pros and cons. He covers both the theoretical underpinnings of agents, and their practical use. To make further research on this topic easier, he also includes a bibliography -- posing for a moment as an intelligent agent of a more organic nature. - TH
Hof, Robert D. "Internet Communities" Businessweek no. 3535 (May 5, 1997): 64-80. Special Report [http://www.businessweek.com/1997/18/b35251.htm]. The author revisits the world of Internet chat rooms and spins an interesting overview of the changes underway in Net culture. He also provides a few good reviews of communities (how about "Parent Soup", or "Agriculture Online") that you might otherwise miss. The news: close to fifty percent of Internet users are now women, and it's having an influence on etiquette and style; and what's more, it looks like people actually enjoy communing in chat rooms more than they like random surfing around the Web. - TH
Lavagnino, Merri Beth. "Networking and the Role of the Academic Systems Librarian: an Evolutionary Perspective." College & Research Libraries 58(3) (May 1997): 217-231. The present article traces the evolution of the academic systems librarian's role from manager of function-specific automated library systems to coordinator of integrated online library systems and collaborator in campus-wide information infrastructure developments. Focusing on the dramatic increase in both technological and administrative requirements of these positions, the piece also provides an overview of the development of local automated library systems on mainframe or minicomputers with dumb terminal access methods into complex, networked, distributed client-server environments serving the campus, state or region. - CGLeiner, Barry M., Vinton G. Cerf, David D. Clark, Robert E. Kahn, Leonard Kleinrock, Daniel C. Lynch, Jon Postel, Lawrence G. Roberts, and Stephen Wolff. "A Brief History of the Internet: Part I" OnTheInternet (May/June 1997): 16-25 [http://www.isoc.org/internet-history/]. A group of Internet architects has come together to pen as close to an official history of the Internet as we are likely to see. It can be fascinating to discover "what a long, strange trip it's been" and to find out how TCP/IP took the world by storm (is there anyone out there who remembers OSI?). This article is part one of a two-part series. The references will be in part two, so you should use the online version to know who they're citing. - RT
McCollum, Kelly. "Magazine Ranks Colleges on How "Wired" They Are; MIT Comes Out on Top." Chronicle of Higher Education 63 (no. 33), April 25, 1997, p. A24. The Ivy League is poorly represented in the top twenty "most wired" campuses, according to a recent survey conducted by Yahoo! Internet Life magazine. The surveyors looked for examples of online homework assignments, required coursework in Internet resources, as well as non-academic characteristics, such as chat rooms and usenet groups. Liberal arts colleges and land grant universities are very well represented, along with Dartmouth and Princeton. - TH
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