Current Cites (Digital Library SunSITE)

Volume 8, no. 8, August 1997

Edited by Teri Andrews Rinne

Acting Editor Roy Tennant

The Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720
ISSN: 1060-2356  - http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CurrentCites/1997/cc97.8.8.html

Contributors: Campbell Crabtree, Christof Galli, Kirk Hastings, Terry Huwe, Margaret Phillips, David Rez, Richard Rinehart, Teri Rinne, Roy Tennant

[ Digital Libraries ] [ Information Technology & Society ] [ Networks & Networking ]

Digital Libraries

Barnard, D.T. and Ide, I.D. "Text Encoding Initiative: Flexible and Extensible Document Encoding" Journal of the American Society for Information Science 48(7) (July 1997):622-628. - The Text Encoding Initiative is an effort to produce a common encoding scheme for complex texts. After three years of development, it seems well on its way to becoming the standard, especially for texts from the humanities. This article is an unusually clear description of the TEI Document Type Definition (DTD), for those that want a better understanding of its structure and features. The authors cover gross structural elements, the reasoning behind TEI's development, and the implications for future directions in structured document use and presentation. Most useful for me was the way in which the authors step through some of the decision-making processes that go into determining how to mark up a particular text. - KH

Kenney, Anne R. "Digital to Microfilm Conversion: A Demonstration Project, 1994-1996" Final Report to the National Endowment for the Humanities, PS-20781-94. Cornell University Library, August 15, 199 7. (http://www.library.cornell.edu/preservation/com/comfin.html). - One of the thorniest problems that librarians face is how to preserve digital collections. There are currently no accepted digital preservation *formats*, only *strategies*. One such stra tegy may be to use the digital object to produce computer output microfilm (COM) that meets national preservation standards for quality and permanence. This report studied the feasibility of such a strategy by looking at such issues as quality, expense, a nd process. It is formal studies such as this one, and a related one by Yale University (see http://www.dlib.org/dlib/february96/yale/02conway.html), that will provide much-needed data f or evaluating digital preservation strategies. - RT

Logan, Elisabeth and Pollard, Marvin, eds. "Special Topic Issue: Structured Information/Standards for Document Architectures" Journal of the American Society for Information Science 48(7) (July 1997). - This special issue of JASIS covers the latest developments and directions in structured document architectures. It consists of ten articles covering everything from the history of SGML to implementation issues and future trends. For those not very clear on the uses of SGML and its relationship to the various Document Type Definitions (DTDs), a number of the articles serve as good introductions and overviews. What I found especially interesting, however, were those covering ideas for the extension of the standards to perform more sophisticated types of document analysis and searching.- KH

Sengupta, A. and Dillon A. "Extending SGML to Accommodate Database Functions: A Methodological Overview" Journal of the American Society for Information Science 48(7) (July 1997):629-637. - While many projects, over the last couple of years, have focused on the creation of large SGML document repositories, very little has been done toward providing more sophisticated methods of accessing and querying these collections. In this article the authors propose extending SGML to include database functionality through what they are calling a Structured Document Database Management System. This is radically different from the mapping of SGML documents into one of the prevalent database models (relational, object-oriented, and object-relational), which seems to be the direction of most researchers. According to the authors their approach avoids the potential problems of data loss during document reconstruction and allows for more sophisticated search interfaces. While their arguments are not entirely convincing, they certainly do explore some interesting new ground with regard to improving access to large structured text collections.- KH

Information Technology & Society

"The Digital Frontier: The Best Ideas From the Hottest Research Labs." Businessweek 3532 (June 23,1997). Special Feature. - Businessweek profiles late-breaking, mind-bending research developments that are popping up at research universities throughout the nation. This lengthy feature's high points include succinct descriptions of some really wild ideas that are coupled with analysis of their chances in the marketplace. Products related to the research won't appear for a few years in most cases, so this is a great article to read if you enjoy the game of anticipation. Some of the trends covered in this survey have been caught by Cites in the past. For example, "Lifestreams", a Yale project, would reorganize computer file and document management to mimic human memory patterns. The editors also evaluate which research outfits and computer science departments are moving up in prestige. - TH

"Global Library Strategies for the 21st Century: Summit of World Library Leaders" Biblion: The Bulletin of the New York Public Library 5(2) (Spring 1997): 4-127. - As part of its centenary celebration, the New York Public Library brought together a number of the library leaders from around the world to consider the state of the art in libraries and their future. Chief executive offices from over 50 libraries in twenty-seven countries were represented in the three-day long forum. The transcription of the proceedings is interesting and thought-provoking, as one would expect from such a stellar panel. But since the proceedings were no doubt transcribed from a recording, the reader experiences both the realism of chit-chat and the distraction it brings. Errors have also crept in, such as Ameritech being transcribed as "Meritec". But these small quibbles aside, anyone interested in knowing what inspires and bothers those responsible for the vast majority of the world's information heritage can get some small insight by reading these proceedings. - RT

Goldhaber, Michael. "What's the right economics for cyberspace?" First Monday 2 (7) (July 7, 1997) (http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue2_7/goldhaber/). - In an online continuation of a debate about the usefulness of classcial economics as a measure of electronic commerce, Goldhaber replies to First Monday editor Rishab Ayer Ghosh's June rebuttal of his May manifesto. Goldhaber holds firm to his belief that "attention", that is, how much time you spend looking at web sites, cannot be quantified by classical terms. Whether or not you agree, this discussion is an interesting exploration of value and activity in digital realms. - TH

Miller, William. "Troubling Myths About Online Information." Chronicle of Higher Education 63 (47) (August 1, 1997): A44. - The president of the Association of College and Research Libraries debunks myths about the economics and media "spin" on electronic solutions to library funding and service issues. He's addressing a faculty readership, and does an excellent job of walking the uninitiated through the maze of crises that libraries face. The fact that electronic copies often cost more than their print counterparts is but one of the many points he makes, but he skillfully avoids sounding atavistic or resistant to change. Quite the contrary. Miller's assessment of the challenges facing research libraries and universities expertly challenges non-librarian faculty members to look deeper than advertising and promotional literature at the long-term health and success of their campus libraries, and to join forces with librarians. - TH

Schwuchow, W., S. Graumann, and W. Bredemeier. "A study of the European information market". Journal of Information Science 23(3) 1997: 249-259. - The article presents results of a study of the electronic information services (EIS) markets in seventeen countries of the European Economic Area (EEA, including the member countries of the EU plus Norway and Iceland). The results include figures detailing market size, worldwide revenues, imports and exports from or into EEA countries, and breakdowns of revenues by type and subject orientation of products on a country level. Real-time information services (eg Reuters) are the leading product type and financial services the dominant subject category. In absolute figures, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France lead the pack. However, if compared by means of two "relative development indicators", one a ratio between EIS expenditures and the GDP of a country, and the other a ratio between EIS expenditures and the number of inhabitants of a country, Luxembourg, Iceland, Finland, and Norway emerge as the top ranking countries. - CG

Networks & Networking

Fiore, Mark. "Colleges Ponder the Pros and Cons of Having Students Design Web Sites". Chronicle of Higher Education 63 (47) (August 1, 1997): A22. - Ever wonder who does all those cool university sites? It turns out that student skill and labor are the workhorse for many colleges. On the up side, students are fairly likely to be surfing the curls of the latest wave of technology (such as Java scripting), and they can play the positive role of educating career staff and faculty through example. Unfortunately, they graduate, and leave behind them some very elegant, but complex web servers that can pose challenges for those who remain. One solution is to recruit more career staff who can provide continuity, but the temptation of exploiting relatively cheap student labor is strong. - TH

Rothenberg, David. "How the Web Destroys Research Papers." Chronicle of Higher Education 63 (49) (August 15, 1997): A44. Rothenberg is a philosophy professor who argues that when students limit their term paper research to web searching, they forfeit quality and intellectual rigor. His examples of dicey scholarship include irrelevant graphics and references to news stories that all appeared during a one year time period. His main point is that Internet search engines make research look too easy. In addition to taking potshots at student research skills, he finds fault with college libraries for diverting precious dollars to ephemeral technologies, that might be gone in two years. Thankfully, he also admits to shortcomings in classroom pedagogy. What starts out as a critque of the web's shortcomings ends up as a Zen buddhist admonition: "Pay attention" -- to the basics, like reading, thinking and verifying your sources. - TH

Young, Jeffrey R. "Searching for 'Killer Applications': Networking Experts Meet to Discuss What They Will Be Able To Do With Internet 2." Chronicle of Higher Education 63 (48) (August 8, 1997): A22. - Delegates from universities participating in Internet 2 met at the University of Michigan in July to talk about what they can do with all that speed and bandwidth, and this article gives a tantalizing overview. Video-conferencing is a really just a "low-end" capability; scientists hope to control highly complex scientific instruments (like magnetic fields and telescopes) from remote locations, eliminating grueling travel schedules. Musicians would be able to "jam" online, and advanced digital libraries could conceivably include detailed user profiles and push technology that would send new acquisitions and news to them automatically. The most challenging aspect of such ambitious applications will be traffic-regulation on the network, and "quality of service", is a key feature. Given the spontaneous potential of networked users to invent their own "killer apps", perhaps most of the fun to come cannot really be foretold at this early date. - TH


Current Cites 8(8) (August 1997) ISSN: 1060-2356 Copyright © 1997 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley. All rights reserved.

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