Acting Editor Roy Tennant
Fox, Edward A., et. al. Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations" D-Lib Magazine (September 1997) (http://www.dlib.org/dlib/september97/theses/09fox.html). - Fox and company describe an interesting project to build a National Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD). The article cites a good deal of interesting work, and yet I was also eager for more URLs than were provided. Where, for example, can one find the "multimedia training materials explaining how to use PDF tools"? But that is nitpicking with what is overall a very interesting piece that highlights some very thorny issues related to publishing information that has a very different (and entrenched) paper publishing stream. Will we ever have the NDLTD that Fox envisions? After reading this article, I have my doubts, but at the same time I also want to go out and help him build it. - RT
Hildreth, Charles R. "The Use and Understanding of Keyword Searching in a University Online Catalog" Information Technology and Libraries 16(2) (June 1997): 52-62. - If you're a reference librarian Hildreth's research findings will not surprise you. After statistically analyzing searches performed in a university library catalog, Hildreth finds that users "search more often by keyword than any other type of search, their keyword searches fail more often than not, and a majority of these users do not understand how the system processes their keyword searches." He suggests two possible solutions to these problems: 1) educate the user, or 2) improve the design of our catalog systems. As the second is more practical and attainable, especially given the fact that increasingly users of our catalogs do not enter our buildings, Hildreth asserts that "it is time to put end-user Boolean retrieval systems...behind us." He points to probabalistic retrieval theory and hypertextual systems as providing sources for improvements. - RT
Report to the President on the Use of Technology to Strengthen K-12 Education in the United States. President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology, Panel on Educational Technology, March 1997 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/WH/EOP/OSTP/NSTC/PCAST/k-12ed.html). This report to President Clinton culminates the two-year work of the Panel on Educational Technology, which was formed to advise him on the application of technology in K-12 education. The Executive Summary lists six main recommendations: 1) Focus on learning with technology, not about technology, 2) Emphasize content and pedagogy, and not just hardware, 3) Give special attention to professional development, 4) Engage in realistic budgeting, 5) Ensure equitable, universal access, and 6) Initiate a major program of experimental research. The report also includes a number of tactical recommendations that target specific needs for improving the impact of technology on K-12 education. In an introductory letter I received with the report, the Panel on Educational Technology highlighted the sixth recommendation as the most important. This recommendation specifies that the ind of expenditure required to support the research needed must be provided largely at the federal level. They acknowledge the difficulty of obtaining such funding while simultaneously attempting to balance the federal budget, but this only serves to underscore the importance they place on this recommendation. This report is well worth reading for anyone interested in K-12 education and the present and future of our children. - RT
Avgerakis, George and Becky Waring. "Industrial-Strength Streaming Video" New Media 7(12) (Sept. 22, 1997): 46-58 (http://www.newmedia.com/NewMedia/97/12/feature/Streaming_Video.html). - The state of the art of video for the web. Streaming video (playback in nearly real time instead of download-and-watch-later) has come of age. This article concentrates on reviewing 7 current video servers for the web, but it does mention other server-less options such as plugins for QuickTime and MPEG formatted video can take advantage of. Perhaps not surprisingly, the handy list showing numbers of different video formats on the web to date reveals the server-less formats far outrank the pricier server-based formats. Another irony revealed is that QuickTime, until recently authored only on Macintosh, is the most popular video type on the web, while none of the 7 web servers reviewed even run on Macs. Beyond the review, this article, with discussions of background, formats, and tips, will be very useful to bring you up to date on options for serving video from your website for distance learning, putting film resources online, or just viewing that oh-so-cool QuickTime panorama taken from the local university's bell-tower. - RR
Hegener, Michiel. "Internet Unwired" OnTheInternet 3(5) (September/October 1997): 23-31 (http://www.iicd.org/articles/sep97/hegene10.htm). In the world of satellite connections to the Internet, it's GEOS v. LEOS. But don't let the acronyms scare you off. This article is a well-written overview of the state of Internet connectivity via satellite. Why would you want a satellite connection to the Internet? If you're in Manhattan you may not want one. But if you're in Niger it may be your only option. Internet satellites will soon (finally) make the Internet a truly global network by bringing the possibility of connection to every corner of the planet. I say possibility, because as you well know, the pipe is only part of the system. Hegener mentions some figures regarding estimated "station" costs, but for the most part the question of affordability by individuals was left largely unaddressed. Nonetheless, this piece is an excellent and highly readable overview of the technology and where things stand. - RT
Karpinski, Richard. "A Tangled Web of Standards" InternetWeek 682 (Sept. 22, 1997):1, 75 (http://www.techweb.com/se/directlink.cgi?INW19970922S0001). - Focusing on the proposed DOM (Document Object Model) standard, this article reveals the tensions between the marketplace and the world of standards. The article cites how both Netscape and Microsoft have leapt ahead of the standards process in attempting to be the first to bring DHTML (Dynamic HTML) products to market and creating yet another browser-war and compatibility issue for content providers. Standards groups like the W3C (itself made up largely of vendors) are criticized for being too slow in finalizing standards, and vendors for giving lip service to "standards-based" solutions, yet ignoring the standards process for the push to market. Content providers such as universities, libraries, and museums are particularly hard hit since they often attempt to serve the broadest possible public (and not one market niche) and so must keep keenly aware of compatibility and access issues. - RR
Smith, Alastair G. "Testing the Surf: Criteria for Evaluating Internet Information Resources" The Public-Access Computer Systems Review 8(3) (1997) (http://info.lib.uh.edu/pr/v8/n3/smit8n3.html). - While many people have written about how to evaluate the quality of Internet information resources, Smith has done an excellent job of distilling the essential criteria for evaluation. He first briefly considers evaluation criteria for print materials, and then continues with a review of previous articles on Internet resource evaluation. The core of the piece is the "toolbox" of evaluation criteria, which cover the broad areas of scope, content, graphic and multimedia design, purpose and audience, reviews, workability, and cost. Smith then reviews internet evaluation sites to determine which of his criteria they employ. It perhaps comes as no surprise that the sites with the most criteria employed in evaluation have librarian involvement (for example, the Argus Clearinghouse and the Internet Public Library). - RT
Radosevich, Lynda. "XML Initiatives Take Shape" InfoWorld, 37 (September 17, 1997):1,24 (http://www.infoworld.com/cgi-bin/displayArchives.pl?97-t02-37.1.htm). - A brief update on vendor progress in bringing XML compliant applications to market. XML (Extensible Markup Language) bridges a gap between two important standards for information management and sharing: the SGML standard (Standard Generalized Markup Language) which can provide detailed structure to documents, allowing them to be parsed, searched, and managed (but which can be difficult to create programs for), and HTML which benefits from it's own simplicity, but is not rich enough to allow documents to be searched or managed in precise ways. XML allows one to use customized or standard tags to manage data in forms from databases to webpages. Microsoft, Arbor, Sybase, and several others are beginning to bring products which support XML to the user. - RR
Wehmeyer, Lillian Biermann. "Evaluating Internet Research" Syllabus 11(2) (September 1997):46-50. - Now that students are citing Internet-based sources in their schoolwork, instructors must be knowledgeable about how to evaluate the quality of the cited works. Being a former librarian, Wehmeyer knows the criteria for evaluating print resources, and she makes effective use of that background in this article. She points out both print and electronic resources that can be used for evaluation, and provides URLs for the latter. - RT
"Xerox won't duplicate past errors" Businessweek no. 3546 (September 29, 1997): 98-103. - The mistake they're referring to is Xerox's groud-breaking creation of all the icons of modern computing -- graphical user interface, the mouse, Ethernet technology -- which were popularized by Apple and are now taken for granted. Some of these features were never even patented, leaving Xerox completely out of the mammoth revenue stream these products created. Now, under the leader of John Seely Brown, Xerox PARC (i.e., Palo Alto Research Center) is researching new applications and planning to take them to market. This article offers an overview of the products that might be in your computing future. These include "hyperbolic trees" that reveal more information as you move the cursor around a full circle of "links", new approaches to machine processing of spoken human language, and other paradigm-breakers. The common denominator to PARC's approach is a growing realization that social scientists have a place in systems design. - TH
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