Acting Editor Roy Tennant
Green, David. "Beyond Word and Image: Networking Moving Images: More Than Just the "Movies"" D-Lib Magazine (July/August 1997) (http://www.dlib.org/dlib/july97/07green.html). - This is the first part of a two part discussion of the issues and techniques involved in digitizing media other than text and image, namely moving images and sound. With the advent of streaming technologies on the Internet it has suddenly become possible to deliver what were once prohibitively large files to the user. It has happened none too soon, with the disintegration of old film stock and audio tape now a near epidemic. I found the author's discussion of film metadata/cataloging efforts particularly interesting, although his point that the British are so far ahead of us in this and other fields was somewhat depressing. This half of the report closes with a detailed examination of a particular genre of moving images, namely dance video. Apparently the dance community has been producing huge numbers of videos for both educational and documentary use for a number of years. Fortunately they have been actively involved in the development of cataloging standards all along and are actively pursuing methods of access for these dance research resources. This is an excellent article, with a number of resources and links for those considering the digitization of a moving image collection. I look forward to the next installment. - KH
Kirriemuir, John. "Clifford Lynch in Interview" Ariadne (10) (July 1997) (http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue10/clifford/). - In this interview with Lynch just before he joins the Coalition for Networked Information as its Executive Director, Kirriemuir plies him with questions about Z39.50, metadata, caching and mirroring. As usual, Lynch is well worth listening to, even if you miss experiencing his thoughtful way of delivery and his trademark leather jacket and black jeans. - RT
Powell, Andy. "Dublin Core Management" Ariadne (10) (July 1997) (http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue10/dublin/). - Powell has written an excellent guide to using Dublin Core metadata for a Web site, and offers good advice and tools for those who are interested in doing the same. Faithful readers of Current Cites have heard about the Dublin Core here for over a year. There's a reason for that. It looks to be our best hope for logically describing resources in a way that is both powerful and flexible. The specification is still a long way from completion, but as Powell describes in this article it is already a useful tool. The organization of which Powell is a part, the United Kingdom Office of Library Networking (UKOLN) has long been a leader in using the latest information technologies to solve library problems. It is thus no surprise that they have also been directly involved with developing the Dublin Core and tools that make it easy to use. If you've considered using the Dublin Core but you don't know how, this article should make it crystal clear. - RT
Powell, Christina Kelleher, and Kerr, Nigel. "SGML Creation and Delivery: The Humanities Text Initiative" D-Lib Magazine (July/August 1997) (http://www.dlib.org/dlib/july97/humanities/07powell.html). - The Humanities Text Initiative, at the University of Michigan, is one of the largest SGML text creation projects in the country. In this overview the authors give a very succinct description of what the project has accomplished since 1994 and what they hope to achieve in the future. The focus is on the project's two major corpuses: The American Verse Project and Middle English Prose and Verse. It is fascinating to read just how much is involved in the creation of accurate texts that are also faithful to the format of the original. I was less impressed, however, with the project's facilities for searching this massive collection. The user is restricted to full text searches and even then such conveniences as text highlighting are not employed. The projects future goals are interesting but are somewhat one-dimensional. The focus here seems to be on giving the user access to the largest number of works possible, without giving much thought to the level of searching sophistication necessary to allow the user to navigate such a daunting sea of text. - KH
Shaw, Elizabeth, and Blumson, Sarr. "Making of America: Online Searching and Page Presentation at the University of Michigan" D-Lib Magazine (July/August 1997) (http://www.dlib.org/dlib/july97/america/07shaw.html). - Making of America is one of the larger digital library projects on the horizon. It is a joint Cornell/Michigan project focusing on American social history and slated to digitize 5000 volumes dating from 1850-1877. Making of America will both digitize images of the original document page by page as well as OCR and markup in SGML each of those pages. Searching is done both on the metadata collected about the document as well as it's full text. Display, strangely enough, seems to be only of the document image. This is fine for clearly printed works, but those that are less legible would be more useful if the SGML version was made available. The navigation of search results as well as image display both seem to be particularly well thought out here. The user is given sophisticated paging alternatives and a number of image size choices.This is obviously a well-funded project that ought to help establish a number of standards for digital libraries. - KH
Browning, Graeme. "Electronic Democracy Online Update" Database 20:3 (June/July 1997): 47-54 (http://www.onlineinc.com/pempress/democracy/updates.html). - This article traces the use that grassroots organizations, party committees, and candidates made of the Internet as a campaigning tool in the November 1996 elections. One of its findings is that organizations and candidates with sites that allowed for interactive communication in the form of e-mail or chat rooms, were more successful than those with "static" sites. Although an exact assessment of the impact of Web sites on individual races is difficult, many political consultants are convinced that the presence or absence on the Web definitely influenced some of the results. Results of polls and studies conducted by various organizations also show that American voters were influenced considerably by information they found on the Web. The author predicts for the Internet as a political communications tool a development that is similar to that of television in the 1950's and 1960's. - CG
Shenk, David. Data Smog: Surviving the Information Glut. HarperEdge: San Francisco, 1997. - Few people alive today would take exception to the premise upon which this book is based -- that we are awash in data. Data that may not result in useful information, knowledge or wisdom. However, the conclusions Shenk draws from this situation may not be as universally shared. The tenor of the book reminds me of Silicon Snake Oil: Second Thoughts on the Information Highway by Clifford Stoll (cited in the April 1995 issue of Current Cites, which raised the act of discovering that there is more to life than computers to the level of a religious experience. Shenk's "Laws of Data Smog" at the beginning of the book range from glib to incomprehensible, although they are at least explained inside. But the strength of this book lies in getting us to think critically about the "information revolution" and to consider carefully the possible casualties. - RT
Coyle, Karen. Coyle's Information Highway Handbook: A Practical File on the New Information Order. Chicago: American Library Association, 1997. - Karen Coyle has long been speaking at library and internet conferences about social and political issues relating to network access to information. Thus it should come as no surprise to those of us who have heard her speak that this slim but pithy volume is a great place to start investigating the topics she covers: economic models, copyright and intellectual property, privacy and intellectual freedom, censorship and filtering, and equitable access. She begins with introductory material on the "new information society" which is followed by a section on the "information highway." She focuses fairly exclusively on the United States, so non-U.S. readers will need to take this into account. Each section includes selected readings in full as well as citations for additional resources. As is the case for any book on a topic that changes as rapidly as the Internet, it is already slightly dated as it hits the shelves. She of course realizes this, and asserts in the introduction that even as it captures a moment frozen in the past it is nonetheless useful as background reading. She' s right. Coyle's assessment of the issues, as well as a number of readings that are often seminal if not timeless, make this book more valuable than as simply a snapshot of the state of networked information policy in the waning years of the century. And if she has done her job well enough, and the people who should pay attention do, then it will have served its purpose to help place its audience -- the library community -- actively in the debate over these important issues. - RT
"Hands off the Internet" The Economist 344 (8024), July 5, 1997, p. 15. - You would think that The Economist's natural fondness of free markets would yield an anti-regulation jeremiad against government forces who would do damage to free speech, intellectual property and fair use, and other features of the "self-regulating" culture of the Net. In fact, the editors give a more cautious view, citing the perils of both over- and under-regulation. Cultural difference lie at the crux of their thesis: not every country in the world will wish to support a virtual Dodge City, they argue; yet, a heavy government hand would stifle, even destroy the value of the Net. Instead, they argue for a careful approach which would recognize the radically different nature of "public discourse" in cyberspace, as we learn how to manage it (as well as ourselves). The summary of pro-regulation and anti-regulation value systems is succinct and very clear -- the article is worth reading just for this feature. - TH
Leiner, 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 2" OnTheInternet 3(4) (July/August 1997): 28-36. - In this continuation of the Internet history begun in the May/June issue of OnTheInternet (cited in the May issue of Current Cites), this group of network pioneers brings us up to the present day and beyond (history of the future? now there's a concept! - RT
Needleman, Mark H. "Standards for the Global Information Infrastructure (GII): A Review of Recent Developments, Ongoing Efforts, Future Directions and Issues" Microcomputers for Information Management: Global Internetworking for Libraries. 13(3-4, Special Issue 1996): 217-236. - This article reports on recent developments in electronic and network-based information. It details activities surrounding the new version of Z39.50, a client/server-oriented protocol defining communication capabilities between information retrieval systems. Various user communities have developed profiles for the use of Z39.50 in their specific domain of application. One of them is GILS, the Government and Information Locator System, which defines the use of the protocol for access to government data. Other profiles are under development for accessing digital and museum collections. The article also treats the Z39.56 Serial Item/Contribution Identifier Standard which defines data elements used to identify issues of serials and articles in them. Also under devlopment is the ILL (Interlibrary Loan) protocol which is promoted by ARL's North American Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery (NAILDD) Project. In the field of character set standards, the author mentions ISO 10646 and Unicode and from among the text formatting standards, SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) and PDF (Portable Document Format). A standard used for commercial interactions is Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). It is designed for the electronic exchange of purchase orders, invoices, and other business-oriented documents.Needleman also reviews the Internet Engineering Task Force's (IETF) work on the definitions of HTTP, HTML, URI (Uniform Resource Identifier), URN (Uniform Resource Names), and URC (Uniform Resource Citation). In his conclusion, the author points out that an appropriate infrastructure to support the technologies defined in these standards is as important as the standards themselves. The article includes a bibliography and list of relevant URL's. - CG
Vileno, Luigina. "Geography Resources on the Internet" College & Research Libraries News 58(7): 471-474 (http://www.ala.org/acrl/resjul97.html). - A good representative list of web resources in geography. Especially strong in U.S. and Canadian resources, the guide lists gazetteers, collections of maps, weather and climate, sources for international regional information (like the CIA Factbook), and electronic journals. - MP
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