Current Cites (Digital Library SunSITE)

Volume 9, no. 11, November 1998

Edited by Teri Andrews Rinne

The Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720
ISSN: 1060-2356 - http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CurrentCites/1998/cc98.9.11.html

Contributors: Terry Huwe, Margaret Phillips, Richard Rinehart, Jim Ronningen, Roy Tennant, Lisa Yesson

[ Digital Libraries ] [ Electronic Publishing ] [ Networks & Networking ]

Digital Libraries

Duguid, Paul. "Information and Libraries" Red Rock Eater News Service (November 17, 1998) (reposted to DIGLIB and archived at http://listserv.nlc-bnc.ca/cgi-bin/ifla-lwgate.pl/DIGLIB/archives/diglib.log9811/date/article-39.html). - Duguid uses a question facing the San Jose State University Academic Senate, regarding whether to merge the university library with the city's public library, to address broader issues related to both print and digital libraries. In particular, he takes to task computer scientists who assume to know what goes on in libraries while accepting millions of dollars to build digital versions. But the main point he makes is that obscuring, or allowing to remain obscured, the differences between information needs, information seeking behavior, and the clienteles doing the seeking, can only lead to disasters -- whether they are of the digital or institutional kind. - RT

Nunberg, Geofrey. "Will Libraries Survive?" The American Prospect (41) (November-December 1998): 16-23 (http://epn.org/prospect/41/41nunb.html). - The title of this piece is provocative but misleading. Nunberg ends up addressing not so much whether libraries will survive at all, but rather in what form. But that is a minor quibble about an article that is thoughtful, informative, historically accurate, and in the end, compelling. As those of us involved with creating digital libraries are well aware, it is a time-consuming and expensive undertaking. Nunberg is aware of this, and is also aware of the hidden impacts of dropping computers into public libraries and expecting the library budget to absorb the costs of their care. So although the munificence of the Gates Library Foundation in connecting public libraries to the Internet is welcomed, it is important for us as a society to realize it is but a beginning step. Nunberg uses as his historical parallel the donation of almost 2,000 public library buildings by Andrew Carnegie a hundred years ago. Carnegie's donation was limited only to the physical facility, leaving not one dime to stock it with anything worth reading. That American communities eventually rose to the challenge of making libraries out of the donated shells is a tribute to the capacity of American citizens to realize the importance of such a cultural and intellectual resource. Now, Nunberg asserts, we face no less of a challenge as a society. We can either rise to the challenge of providing the needed funds to stock our digital libraries, or fail to realize its importance. - RT

Pack, Thomas and Jeff Pemberton. "Intranet Management, Content Development and Digital Gift Shop: The Cutting-Edge Library at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution" Online 22(6) (November/December 1998):16-24. - At first glance, the library for a daily newspaper would seem to be a special case - too special to interest anyone outside. However, there are lots of ideas here for exploiting the full potential of networked information systems in any organization where information is the product. The News Research Services (NRS) staff at the Journal-Constitution have developed their intranet to put current and archival files on the desktops in the newsroom, and trained reporters and editors to do some searching, which leaves NRS staff free to delve into lengthier or deadline-pressured research. The corporate Web site has become a profit center for the company thanks to the staff's creative arrangements for marketing the articles and photos for which the paper holds copyright. While the article's focus is on innovative new projects, there is also adequate description of how the staff fulfills its traditional mission of fact-finding for the writers. They seem to do a fine job of it, and use their resourcefulness to provide background information through such media as custom intranet pages full of relevant data for anticipated hot topics. But this brings up a quibble: we never get to hear from the end users. Throughout the article, there's plenty from NRS staff and management about how well things are going, but nothing from the reporters and their editors. I expect some boosterism from publications like Online, where the editorial policy seems to be "information professionals congratulating information professionals," but it's a lot more convincing when we're allowed to hear from the people served by the information professionals too. - JR

Electronic Publishing

Bray, Tim. "Stretching the Document Concept" Web Techniques 3(12) (December 1998): 43-46. - According to Tim Bray, who should know, the Extensible Markup Language (XML) blurs the boundary between documents and data. This blurring, Bray reasonably asserts, will lead to interesting cominglings of document-centric users like humanist scholars with data-centric users such as management information systems (MIS) geeks. While bringing these two camps together in the same room may not lead to the same kind of cataclysmic event as the joining of matter and anti-matter would, it nonetheless may be interesting. Bray thinks it is both inevitable and good that document-centric people and data-centric people will be forced to come together to share a common vocabulary and some common tools. So do I. In any case, this piece provides an interesting insight to a possible watershed event that may slip past almost unnoticed by those too busy watching the XML hype machine roll on. - RT

Soojung-Kim Pang, Alex. "The Work of the Encyclopedia in the Age of Electronic Reproduction" First Monday 3 (9) (September 9, 1998) (http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue3_9/pang/) - The author explores how the advent of e-text literature affects the "craft" and everyday work of editing. He focuses on the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which has actively navigated from print, to CD-ROM and to the World Wide Web. He asserts that the digitization of the encyclopedia has affected the structure of articles, and that it also has begun to affect the character of editorial work, the responsibilities of editors, and their relationships with authors, animators, and others. This is a useful exploration of how Net innovations affect other professions besides libraries. Soojung-Kim Pang goes beyond the usual analyses of the fate of linear narrative, and copyright. - TH

Networks & Networking

Bambury, Paul. "A Taxonomy of Internet Commerce" First Monday 3(10) (October 5, 1998) (http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue3_10/bambury/) - Bambury offers a clarifying piece that de-mystifies the terminology of the interplay between commerce and the Internet. He utilizes an "empirically derived classification system" (or taxonomy) of existing Internet business models. His taxonomy has two main branches: "transplanted real-world business models" and "native Internet business models." After comparing the two modes of description, he evaluates the role of business, governments, regulation and ideology. He asserts these two branches of Internet commerce are at odds, and may not be able to co-exist indefinitely. The aggressive nature of the real-world business model tends toward domination, whereas the native Internet economy and culture is "largely free, disintermediated, deep-rooted, ecological, decentralized, radical and politically sophisticated." Most likely, one or the other will prevail -- though we can always hope for a hybrid or new entry. - TH

Raymond, Eric S. "Homesteading the Noosphere" First Monday 3 (10) (October 5, 1998) (http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue3_10/raymond/) - Despite a grandiose (and frankly Rheingoldian) title, this critique of "hacker" culture is really a rather interesting article. Raymond compares the so-called "gift economy" of the Internet with the belief system of property rights. He argues that there is a contradiction between the official ideology defined by open-source licenses and hacker culture. He examines the "customs" that regulate the ownership and control of open-source software, and suggests that they imply an "underlying theory of property rights homologous to the Lockean theory of land tenure." He concludes with an analysis of the implications and the need for better conflict resolution tools. - TH

Schwartz, Alan and Simson Garfinkel. Stopping Spam: Stamping Out Unwanted Email & News Postings. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly & Associates, 1998. - These days there are only two kinds of people: 1) those who have been victims of spam (unwanted, mass-distributed messages), and 2) those who are not on the Internet. Of the latter category, many are less than three years old or are in a coma, and can hardly be blamed for not being victimized like the rest of us. But hold the phone. Now help is here, albeit of the "help yourself" variety. That is, as this book so completely documents, there is no silver bullet for slaying spammers. Rather, there are a variety of tricks and techniques which may render one somewhat spam-proof, but they will hardly rid the universe of these vermin. But if that's all you're after, then go to it. And as for those of us who may not wish to spend several days setting up various barriers to block this garbage, the beginning of this book is an amusing (in a twisted sort of way, perhaps) and thorough historical account of spam, dating back to the 1970's (yes, Virginia, the Internet is indeed at least that old). Given the size of the Internet these days, if misery loves company we've never had it so good. - RT


Current Cites 9(11) (November 1998) ISSN: 1060-2356
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