Current Cites (Digital Library SunSITE)

Volume 10, no. 6, June 1999

Edited by Teri Andrews Rinne

The Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720
ISSN: 1060-2356 - http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CurrentCites/1999/cc99.10.6.html

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

ALCTS Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access. Task Force on Metadata Summary Report American Library Association, Association for Library Collections and Technical Services, Chicago: June 1999. (http://www.ala.org/alcts/organization/ccs/ccda/tf-meta3.html). - This is the summary report of the American Library Association's ALCTS Task Force on Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access relating to four out of five of its charges (the fifth will be considered in light of the findings of of the first four). The charges consist of: 1) analyzing the resource description needs of libraries, 2) building a conceptual map of the resource description landscape and developing models for using metadata both inside and outside the library community, 3) devising a definition of metadata and investigating the interoperability of newly emerging metadata schemes with the cataloging rules and MARC format, and 4) recommending ways in which libraries may best incorporate the use of metadata schemes into current library methods. The fifth charge not covered in this report is "Recommending, as needed, rule revision to enable interoperability of cataloging (with AACR2) with metadata schemes." - RT

Bosak, Jon. "XML Ubiquity and the Scholarly Community" Computers and the Humanities 33 (1-2)(April 1999):199-206. - This special issue of Computers and the Humanities provides selected papers from the 10th Anniversary Conference of the Text Encoding Intiative (TEI), a widely accepted standard interchange format for textual data. There's a little something for everyone in this issue from the history of TEI and the basics of XML, SGML and HTML, to current issues and trends for the TEI research community. The volume concludes with Jon Bosak's closing keynote address on the implications of XML for the scholarly community. In his conversational remarks, Bosak asserts that the promise of XML (extensible, human-readable, open, easy to use standards for providing content) may finally be possible because the goals of the scholarly community are becoming congruent with the incipient requirements of industry and commerce. In other words, the scholarly community will finally be able to deliver desired data, take advantage of much cheaper tools, provide richer experiences with scholarly publications, link databases and hire people who can be easily trained to make this happen. But Bosak cautions that to reach this promised land, the academic community must be ever vigilant about standards, and "shove vendors forward" who begin to stray off the open standards path. - LY

The Eighth International World Wide Web Conference Toronto (May 11-14, 1999) (http://www8.org/fullpaper.html). - For those unfamiliar with it, the International World Wide Web Conference is for Web researchers, mostly from universities and the private sector. Therefore, this collection of papers consists mostly of research findings regarding either cutting edge technologies (some of which may never go into production), how people are using the Internet, or new uses of existing capabilities. Although many of the papers will be too narrowly focused or impractical for those using and maintaining web sites on a daily basis, there are nonetheless some nuggets here for virtually anyone interested in web issues. - RT

Pear, Robert. "NIH Plan For Journal On the Web Draws Fire" The New York Times (June 8, 1999): D1. - Harold Varmus, director of the National Institutes of Health, has proposed an electronic publishing operation called E-biomed that would allow NIH-sponsored scientists to disclose and disseminate the results of their research on the Internet. Publishing online would accelerate the exchange of biomedical research as well as increase the number of people with access to this information. Despite the fact that electronic publication of scientific research is already being done by many established scientific journals and through the Los Alamos National Labs which publishes physics and math pre-prints on its server (http://xxx.lanl.gov/), there is opposition to the NIH plan. Predictably, critics (mostly publishers and scientific societies) say that electronic publishing would allow scientists to bypass print journals thus circumventing the peer review process; it would also endanger print journals, they say, because most journals have a policy against publishing work that has been published elsewhere. The editor of the New England Journal of Medicine fears that if subscribers could get all their research free on the Internet, they would no longer subscribe to the print journal. The NIH counters that, as a publically-supported institution, they have an obligation to provide access to their information as quickly and inexpensively as possible. Furthermore, E-biomed would have a governing board of scientists, editors and computer experts who would develop rules of operation for the site. - MP

Petrazzini, Ben and Mugo Kibati. "The Internet in Developing Countries" Communications of the ACM 42(6) (June 1999) (http://www.acm.org/pubs/articles/journals/cacm/1999-42-6/p31-petrazzini/p31-petrazzini.pdf). - For most of the world, Internet access is a rare and costly thing, and this article describes the current problems and future challenges for Internet growth outside of North America and Europe. Some topics addressed are the lack of low-cost regional IP backbones (e.g. monthly charges for circuits between Asia-Pacific countries are much higher than monthly charges between those countries and the U.S.), the limited availability of local call rates for dialup services, and of course the inescapable facts of poverty and purchasing power (in Ghana, an account with Africa Online costs $50 per month, which is almost twice the monthly income of most Ghanians). As is often the case with the CACM, our cited article is part of a valuable special section; in this case the section is titled "Emerging Internet Infrastructures Worldwide." In it are articles on making the Internet less U.S.-centric, net development and control in China, India and Haiti, deploying wireless data systems in Kenya and Thailand, and commentary on the potential global impact of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). - JR

Russell, Kelly and Derek Sergeant. "The Cedars Project: Implementing a Model for Distributed Digital Archives" RLG DigiNews 3(3) (June 15,1999) (http://www.rlg.org/preserv/diginews/diginews3-3.html#feature). - The CEDARS Project (http://www.leeds.ac.uk/cedars/) was chartered by the UK Electronic Libraries Programme (eLib) (http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/services/elib/ ) to investigate issues regarding the long-term preservation of digital materials. Their work has focused on trying to develop a model for a distributed archival information system, based on the idea of "packages". They propose three types of packages: submission, archival, and dissemination. A digital object would be submitted to a repository as a submission package, which would then be processed for inclusion in the archive as an archival information package. For online delivery to users, a dissemination information package may be required. For example, a collection of images stored in TIFF format may need to have JPEG versions for online use. The dissemination information package would contain those delivery versions of the archival images. - RT

Stephenson, Neal. In the Beginning was the Command Line (http://www.cryptonomicon.com/beginning.html). - This longish (207Kb, 59 page, freely downloadable in PC Zip or Mac Stuffit) essay can be summarized as an exploration of how we relate to operating systems and interfaces, but that doesn't do justice to the humor, tangential comments and insights which make this a great summer read for anyone interested in computers. The author is an experienced programmer whose first novel, Snow Crash, is a computer geek fave and whose latest is partially about cryptography. He's been intimate with Unix and Linux, Windows and the Mac and Be operating systems; his metaphors for those systems and the cultures that have grown up around them gave this reader many little epiphanies. (The car metaphor: the Mac OS is a sleek but untinkerably sealed European sedan, Windows is a hulking, unreliable station wagon that everyone buys because everyone else is buying it, Be is a Batmobile and Linux is a state-of-the-art tank available at a "dealership" consisting of yurts, tepees and RVs with salespeople who are giving it away and will come fix it for free). The essay is not just a bunch of cleverness - it's didactic and contentious. One of Stephenson's main arguments is that computer users have become much too GUI'd away from a real understanding of how their computers work. It's a convincing case made by a guy with a technical background and the imagination to come up with a good analogy between HTML and Ronald Reagan broadcasting a baseball game from a windowless room. - JR


Current Cites 10(6) (June 1999) ISSN: 1060-2356
Copyright © 1999 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley. All rights reserved.
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