Current Cites (Digital Library SunSITE)

Volume 9, no. 8, August 1998

Edited by Teri Andrews Rinne

The Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720
ISSN: 1060-2356 - http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CurrentCites/1998/cc98.9.8.html

Contributors: Christof Galli, Kirk Hastings, Terry Huwe, Margaret Phillips, Richard Rinehart, Jim Ronningen, Roy Tennant, Lisa Yesson

[ Digital Libraries ] [ Electronic Publishing ] [ Multimedia & Hypermedia ] [ Networks & Networking ] [ General ]

Digital Libraries

Noerr, Dr. Peter. The Digital Library Tool Kit. Mountain View, CA: Sun Microsystems, 1998 (http://www.sun.com/products-n-solutions/edu/libraries/digitaltoolkit.html). -- Although it is difficult for any single document to describe the emerging field of digital libraries in a comprehensive fashion, this nearly 100-page, seven chapter document does a fairly decent job of it. In Chapter 1 Dr. Noerr takes a look at a series of questions that can help librarians focus on a number of considerations concerning the creation and maintenance of a digital library. Chapters 2-5 discusses planning and implementation issues. It ends with a couple chapters covering current research and existing systems, with resources for more information and a look toward the future. Sun Microsystems sponsored the creation of this document as part of their support for education and digital libraries. -- RT

Electronic Publishing

Allen, David Yehling. "Creating and Distributing High Resolution Cartographic Images" RLG DigiNews 2(4) (August 15, 1998) (http://www.rlg.org/preserv/diginews/diginews2-4.html#feature). -- Creating digital map images presents particular problems. This brief piece serves as a useful introduction to some of those problems and the emerging methods by which they may be solved. Links to a number of example projects and resources are included for those wishing to view examples and find out more about the technologies discussed. One thing this article makes apparent, however, is that we are still in a period of experimentation with various technologies, and it is not yet clear which one (or none) will win out in the end. That makes it rather difficult for those of us who would prefer to do this only once. -- RT

Ford, Charlotte E. and Stephen P. Harter. "The Downside of Scholarly Electronic Publishing: Problems in Accessing Electronic Journals through Online Directories and Catalogs" College & Research Libraries 59(4) (July 1998): 335-346. -- Using Harter's previous study (along with Hak Joon Kim) (see Current Cites for July, August and October 1996) as a springboard, this article examines the usefulness of four online e-journal directories and two online union catalogs in accessing electronic journals by comparing the coverage, accuracy, currency and overlap among the six sources. The fact that most e-journals have multiple homepages and sometimes multiple formats (http, gopher, ftp) makes the maintenance of an authoritative list extremely tricky. The authors suggest that e-journal producers can help the situation by removing dated files, by bouncing users from old sites to new ones, by informing the major directories of changes in their addresses, and by clearly listing mirror sites and alternate URLs on their homepages. At the same time, those who maintain the directories of e -journals should use software that periodically checks the accuracy of URLs listed. -- MP

Resh, Vincent H. "Science and Communications: An Author/Editor/User's Perspective on the Transition from Paper to Electronic Publishing" Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship 19 (Summer 1998). (http://www.library.ucsb.edu/istl/98-summer/article3.html) -- The publication of academic research, especially in the sciences, is driven by forces that are not necessarily in sync: on the one hand, technology is advancing and scientific output is increasing but library funding is decreasing. How does electronic publishing fit into this picture? Vincent Resh, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley, takes a look at this issue from the perspective of one who is an author, editor and user of electronic resources; he outlines and summarizes what he views as the popular perceptions held by his colleagues about the transition from print to online publishing. Among these perceptions: 1) Subscriptions costs will be reduced with a shift from paper to electronic media; 2) Lagtime between submission and publication will be reduced; 3) Information from e-journals is not as acceptable because they are not peer-reviewed; 4) E-journals offer value-added features like links video simulations and hyperlinks to other citations. In his analysis of e-publishing, Resh concludes that scientific journals are used most by young researchers yet editorial decisions are being made my older editors who may be entrenched in outdated paradigms. -- MP

Multimedia & Hypermedia

Wang, Gene. "The Future of Digital Cameras" Web Techniques 3(9) (September 1998): 45-48. -- Consumer digital cameras are currently expensive play things that offer less picture quality than the cheapest film camera. But that, says Wang, will change by sometime next year when much higher image resolutions (over 2 million pixels) are achieved. These new cameras will also likely use better compression algorithms (to provide smaller images with less loss of data), run in-camera applications (perhaps on top of the Windows CE operating system), and even cost less. Although the technical tangent on how wavelet compression works was probably unnecessary, the bulk of the piece is very informative and worthwhile to anyone considering the purchase of a digital camera in the $500 - $3,000 range. Interestingly enough, this chairman and CEO of a company that builds hardware and software components for digital cameras is basically telling potential consumers to wait until the next generation of products hits the streets. I'd say that's good advice. -- RT

Networks & Networking

Electronic Frontier Foundation. Cracking DES: Secrets of Encryption Research, Wiretap Politics, & Chip Design. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly & Associates, 1998. -- Some of you may be old enough to remember when The Progressive printed an article that described how to build an atomic device in enough detail to be useful for anyone wishing to do it (November 1979). The publication of the piece had been blocked six months earlier by a U.S. Federal Court, in what was the first case of "prior restraint" of the freedom of the press. What followed was a firestorm of outrage, support for freedom of the press, and further litigation. This book is similar in that it is also a highly political "cookbook." Its entire purpose is to once and for all blow the government's Data Encryption Standard (DES) out of the water. DES uses a 56-bit key to encrypt data. The FBI and the National Security Agency as recently as 1997 testified before Congress that DES was extremely difficult to crack. A team led by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) cracked it in 56 hours. This book tells how, in great detail, and also provides some historical background and supporting research papers. Current U.S. law prevents EFF from publishing on this information on the Web, so they have taken the extraordinary measures of printing their information (which is legal) in such a way as to be easily scanned, specifying which free software is required to perform turn the scan into text, and providing step-by-step instructions on how to do it. They have done all this in the hope that others living in countries without laws restricting its publication on the Web will do so. EFF can then legally point to any and all such sites around the world. Their goal, as that of their spiritual colleagues before them, is to demonstrate that "official secrecy in this area serves no useful public purpose" (The Progressive (November 1979, p.15), and is, in fact, detrimental, by providing a false sense of security where none should exist. -- RT

Maxwell, Bruce. How to Find Health Information on the Internet. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 1998. -- Log onto any search engine and lookup the medical issue of your choice; you'll probably retrieve tens of thousands of hits. This guide provides a highly selective, manageable, annotated list of health sites and includes sections on specific diseases, preventative medicine, and health care issues. Particularly valuable in the guide is the introduction which provides guidelines on how to judge the quality of health information on the Internet. Maxwell is quick to note that the Internet is but one source in an information landscape which includes print journals, books and commercial databases as well, that can help you become a better informed health consumer. - MP

General

Flower, Eric. "Price, Performance and System Selection in the Intel-Based PC Market" Computers in Libraries 18(7) (July/Aug 1998): 8-18. (http://www.infotoday.com/cilmag/jul/story1.htm). -- There's no lack of articles which focus on various aspects of the PC market, but this one really pulls it all together. Of course the year's biggest desktop computer news is the arrival of sub-$1,000 machines, but Flower explores many levels of "Wintel" systems and their suitability for different needs. (Although this article appears in Computers in Libraries, he doesn't try to match PC functions to library tasks, and wisely avoids placing a rigid frame around a changeable landscape.) An appropriately large amount of space is devoted to the recent history of Intel chip development and expectations for its future. Typical of the thoroughness here, processors from oft-ignored competitors AMD and Cyrix are included. After the CPUs are described, whole system configurations are compared. Armed with this kind of information, individual shoppers or institutional buyers will have a much easier time of it. Read the Web version to take advantage of the links to related analysis and relevant manufacturer Web sites. - JR

Healy, Leigh Watson. Library Systems: Current Developments and Future Directions Washington: Council on Library and Information Resources, 1998. -- The preface cautions the reader against using this report as "a comparative study of integrated library systems," but it is difficult to resist the temptation. Following four case studies of two academic libraries, a public library and a special library (all large institutions), the bulk of the report consists of vendor profiles. These profiles can be handy references to basic information on twelve of the most important library automation vendors. While anyone seeking to purchase a new automation system will need to do more research (as is pointed out in the preface) this is nonetheless an excellent place to start to get an idea of the present products and future directions of the major players. -- RT

Wiley, Deborah Lynne. Beyond Information Retrieval: Ways to Provide Content in Context" Database 21(4)(August/September 1998): 18-22. (http://www.onlineinc.com/database/DB1998/wiley8.html) -- This article should be a wake-up call for information providers who are slow to use the latest information retrieval technologies to provide better solutions for their customers. Wiley chronicles the history of information retrieval in the pre-Web world and provides a helpful overview of recent Web-based, search-enhancing technology features. These technologies include collaborative filtering (software that offers recommendations to users based on what other users have done), data extraction, data visualization, agent technologies, pattern recognition, classification/clustering and virtual communities. Wiley argues that basic search and retrieval functions alone are not enough any more, and provides specific examples of companies that are using these advanced technology features to add value. In trendy circles this may be known as knowledge management. Wiley hails it as "content in context" or, more simply, moving from finding information to providing answers. -- LY


Current Cites 9(8) (August 1998) ISSN: 1060-2356
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Editor: Teri Andrews Rinne, trinne@library.berkeley.edu, (510) 642-8173

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Last update August 29, 1998. SunSITE Manager: manager@sunsite.berkeley.edu