Current Cites (Digital Library SunSITE)

Volume 11, no. 1, January 2000

Edited by Teri Andrews Rinne

The Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720
ISSN: 1060-2356 - http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CurrentCites/2000/cc00.11.1.html

Contributors: Terry Huwe, Michael Levy, Leslie Myrick , Margaret Phillips, Jim Ronningen, Lisa Rowlison, Roy Tennant

Antelman, Kristin. "Getting out of the HTML Business: The Database-Driven Web Site Solution." Information Technology and Libraries 18 (4) (December 1999): 176-181. - Library webweavers who are feeling over-burdened with the labor of keeping huge web sites current and interesting can take heart: there is a new generation of tools that are within reach and can vastly ease the workload. Antelman's excellent overview of database-driven web management will tell you everything you need to know about how to evaluate the best products, as well as how to reorganize the information architecture of your web site. She rightly assesses that many library web managers are still employing 1995-era tools, even though their sites now receive thousands of hits per day and are essential parts of the library's mission. Newer products (like Cold Fusion) carry higher price tags but are technically within reach for most webweavers. Start here to begin updating your sense of the possible. - TH

Bauer, Kathleen. "Who Goes There? Measuring Library Web Site Usage" Online 24 (1) (January 2000) (http://www.onlineinc.com/onlinemag/OL2000/ bauer1.html). - This is a useful introduction to the subject for all of us who aren't server administrators. Requests from clients (web browsers, in this case) to servers can be recorded in logs. Bauer gives examples of types of log file entries (common log, referrer log, agent log) and explains how to read them. Limitations are described; the most important caveat is that such logs only record incidents of requests for specific files on a server, which doesn't necessarily give a clear measurement of user interest due to variables like dynamic IP addressing (e.g. an ISP assigning different IP numbers to the same user at different points in time) and web page caching in memory at the client end. Sources of log analysis software are evaluated and URLs are given for them, and for links to further reading. Note that when this cite was written, I found that several of the supplied links were broken or lead to wrong places. - JR

Bertot, John Carlo, Charles R. McClure and Kimberly A. Owens. "Universal Service in a Global Networked Environment: Selected Issues and Possible Approaches" Government Information Quarterly 16(4) 1999. - Providing universal service for networked information resources is generally seen as a good thing. There are some who naively assume that once the infrastructure problems are overcome (like creating wireless networks in countries so impoverished that people will dig wires out of the ground to sell the copper) we'll all join together in a utopian global group-hug. This article analyzes the policy questions which complicate the issue: governmental controls, the influence of industrialized nations, economics, cultural attitudes, even conflicting definitions of what is meant by universal service. As the U.S. is the leading player, there is a lot of space devoted to American policies and efforts, but due recognition is given to the fact that some attitudes simply don't work elsewhere, and discussion points are proposed which can be used to avoid cultural stalemates. All of the articles in this issue of the quarterly are on the subject of universal access. These rather dry reports don't have a lot of pizazz; I can imagine them in that pile of Al Gore's "fun" reading which he gets kidded about. But if you dismiss this sort of thing because you consider yourself an anti-bureaucracy, under the radar, direct action, access to the people techno-cowboy or girl, just remember that ultimately this policy-making layer affects everybody. - JR

Clarke, Roger. "Freedom of Information? The Internet as Harbinger of the New Dark Ages" First Monday 4 (11) (November 1, 1999) (http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue4_11/clarke/). - Clarke assesses the impact of the Internet by deconstructing the popular media zeitgeist view of the Net, and then evaluating reactions by powerful institutions. "The digital era has ambushed and beguiled us all," he says. "Its first-order impacts are being assimilated, but its second-order implications are not." While we are being beguiled and seduced by a Madison-Avenue dominated dialogue with Utopian overtones, vested interests are hard at work to protect their interests. The battle royal will continue, he says, and the outcome is uncertain. For example, a failure of new paradigms could result in tighter controls on new media and limit intellectual expression. On the other hand, email is a written medium that, according to The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik, is reviving the Eighteenth Century literary culture of letter writing as an art form. The one thing that is certain is that the pace of change will be rapid, and that no one will relinquish territory willingly. - TH

Coffman, Steve. "'And Now, a Word From Our Sponsors...': Alternative Funding for Libraries" Searcher 8(1) (January 2000) (http://www.infotoday.com/searcher/jan00/coffman.htm). - Rabble-rouser and pot-stirrer Coffman is at it again. Thank god, since the pot needs stirring and the rabble (or, in actual fact, not "rabble" but librarians) need rousing. As is sometimes the case, Coffman is long on ideas and short on documented fact (although he refers to a number of sources, there are few citations). But be that as it may, it would behoove librarians to not throw this baby out with the bath water. Where Coffman shines is in tipping one of the most staid institutions we have (libraries) on its side and shaking hard. Anything not bolted down goes flying, and suddenly we're left with figuring out just what we *do* need. In the end, we may need almost everything we have now, but it's also likely that we have more baggage than we need and fewer visas in hand for where we should be going. If you've had enough mixed metaphors, stop reading this and find out what I'm talking about. Whether you agree or disagree with Coffman, you should know what he advocates and where you stand on the issues and why. - RT

Downes, Stephen, "Hacking Memes" First Monday 4 (10) (October 4, 1999) (http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue4_10/downes/). - If you have been wondering how to sound smart at "digerati" cocktail parties, look no further than this article. Better still, you'll find that the effort to be trendy will also be intellectually rewarding — this is a fun read. The "meme" concept has been the darling of the never-to-be IPO'd Wired Magazine set for years, but it's also a useful metaphor for understanding online culture. The author launches his discourse with humorous definitions of the term "meme," and quickly moves into a larger discussion the digital era that will entertain both technoids and general readers. - TH

Hodge, Gail M. "Best Practices for Digital Archiving" D-Lib Magazine 6(1) (January 2000) (http://www.dlib.org/dlib/january00/01hodge.html). - In March 1999, the International Council for Scientific and Technical Information (ICSTI, see http://www.icsti.org/) sponsored a study on digital archiving (the practice of preserving access to digital material). This paper is a summary report of the findings (see the ICSTI web site for the full report). The study surveyed a number of projects with a digital archiving component, and from that survey detected some emerging best practices. These practices are categorized and described within the topic areas of 1) creation, 2) acquisition and collection development, 3) identification and cataloging, 4) storage, 5) preservation, and 6) access. - RT

Lukesh, Susan S. "E-mail and Potential Loss to Future Archives and Scholarship or the Dog that Didn't Bark" First Monday 4 (9) (September 6, 1999) (http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue4_9/lukesh/). - The author provides a guided tour of the rapidly evolving crisis associated with legacy systems and the disappearance of the hardware and software that is needed to read data files. "A pattern has emerged in starting presentations on the preservation of electronic materials: Disaster!", she says. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau discovered that only two computers on earth can still read the 1960 census and the bulk of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's research since 1958 is threatened — it's a troubling picture. Lukesh explores the extent of the crisis and some of the remedies that might be undertaken to save these essential data sets. - TH

Margiano, Richard. "The Ninth Circuit Holds That the Internet Domain Name E-Mail and Web Service Provider is Not a Cybersquatter for Trademark Dilution Purposes, Avery Dennison Corp. v. Sumpton" JILT: the Journal of Information, Law and Technology 1999:3 (http://www.law.warwick.ac.uk/jilt/99-3/margiano.html). - The article title just about says it all. The Court decided that Sumpton, president of Mailbank, an Internet service provider which owns and leases 12,000 domain names to third parties, did not dilute Avery Dennison's trademarks, and thus, were not cybersquatters preventing others from the free use of their names while exacting a price for their use. This decision which reverses a previous court's summary judgement will prove to be a much debated trademark and Internet intellectual property law case. - LR

Mendels, Pamela. "Study on Online Education Sees Optimism, With Caution" New York Times (January 19, 2000) (http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/00/01/cyber/education/19education.html). - The pick of the crop from the recent New York Times Cybertimes features on education examines the University of Illinois-based Online Pedagogy Report (http://www.vpaa.uillinois.edu/tid/report/), the product of 16 tenured professors under the lead of John R. Regalbuto from the Unversity of Illinois at Chicago. The University of Illinois Online program (http://www.online.uillinois.edu/) appears to have provided considerable impetus for the study. In this short article, Mendels characterizes the group's results as at once cautious and optimistic, and lays out a few of their findings regarding various strengths and pitfalls of distance learning. Strengths included enhanced interactive multimedia capabilities in fields such as geometry, and increased dissemination of and participation in course material across the board. On the latter note, e-seminars, playing themselves out on electronic bulletin boards and e-mail lists, appear to foster broader-based written discussion, even among less outgoing students. The major discovered shortcoming comes as no surprise: a sense of digital alienation, which makes creating and maintaining a teacher-student bond difficult. Major cautions also come as no surprise: a full slate of distance learning courses engineered to provide a complete undergraduate or graduate program was deemed inappropriate, as was "excessive" class-size, ranging from 35 to 1000 students, depending on whom one consults. - LM

Nielsen, Jakob. Designing Web Usability Indianapolis, IN: New Riders Publishing, 2000. - Jakob Nielsen has long been known as a Web usability guru. From his early web design days at Sun Microsystems, he has been an advocate of design for the user's sake, and has therefore often been at odds with those designers who want to use the latest and greatest technology despite its impact on usability. In 1995, to put forward his thoughts on web design, Nielsen started a column called The Alertbox (http://www.useit.com/alertbox/), with which any web designer worth his or her salt is familiar. For a quick taste of Nielsen's direct and insightful advice, see his classic "Top Ten Mistakes of Web Design" (http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9605.html) and Top Ten New Mistakes of Web Design. With these credentials, one expects a top-notch web design book. Luckily, Nielsen doesn't disappoint. This over-400 page book is chock-full of pithy advice, full-color screen shots of both good and bad web sites, and informative asides (in the form of sidebars). Anyone who designs or manages a web site should read this book, commit its lessons to memory, and keep it handy on the shelf next to Rosenfeld and Morville's book Information Architecture for the World Wide Web. - RT

Pack, Thomas. "Bringing Literature Alive: Early English Books Online Reshape Research Opportunities" EContent 22(6) (December 1999, pp. 26-30. - From the vaults of Bell & Howell Information and Learning's (http://www.bellhowell.infolearning.com/ hp/Features/DVault/) Digital Vault Initiative comes new life for researchers of Early Modern English History and Literature. Users of microfilms containing the materials listed in Pollard and Redgrave's Short Title Catalogue, Donald Wing's Short Title Catalogue, and the Thomason Tracts of broadsides on the English Civil War can look forward to a new online resource, the Early English Books Online (EEBO) project (http://www.bellhowell.infolearning.com/ cgi-bin/ShowItem?PID=P0086&market=cu&location=na). The herculean task of scanning some 22 million pages of microfilm has been completed, resulting in a cache of digitized images of the original pages of some 96,000 literary works, ranging from books, newspapers, and periodicals to pamphlets, proclamations and bookplates. According to a librarian at the Bodleian, this translates to 80% of the total surviving record of English speaking world from 1475-1700. These online facsimiles are intended to be a complement to rather than replacement of the higher resolution images on microfilm. A list of desiderata for the incipient project (only 187 units have been delivered so far) was culled from other successful projects, as well as from faculty and library committees, to wit: MARC-standardized bibliographic records, speedy delivery of images (TIFFs at 400 dpi compressed for web delivery by DjVu technology), PDF download, a user-friendly web-interface which allows browsing by broad subjects (history, religion, literature), as well as searching by author and title keywords; and finally, partnerships with libraries which will provide ASCII text in return for subscription subventions, or better yet, part ownership of the database. - LM

Scaife, Ross, et al. The Stoa Consortium (http://www.stoa.org/). - In the spirit of the classical stoa, a public forum for philosophical dissemination in the form of open-air discussion, Ross Scaife, from the Classics Department at the University of Kentucky, has masterminded a web-based humanities publishing forum aptly named the Stoa Consortium. The project's goal is succinctly described in their FAQ as "refereed collaborative publication of structured data for wide audiences." The keywords here are: quality, accessibility, and consistency, achieved through a new paradigm of peer-reviewed publishing in the humanities, buoyed by new models of scholarly collaboration, and using recognized standards, such as TEI-conformant SGML, XML, the DOI, and Unicode. The desired outcome will be the successful dissemination, migration and archiving of electronic material in the humanities, primarily Classics. The projects page promises great variety in the form of monographs, editions and translations, encyclopedia articles, as well as archaeological and geographic resources, including highly popular QTVR panoramas. My impression is that the online Suda project (the translation of a rather quirky Byzantine Greek encyclopedia) has been the brightest twinkle in the creators' collaborative eye until recently, when James O'Donnell made an announcement on the Classics-L list regarding the release of the electronic version of his 3-volume edition, with commentary, of Augustine's Confessions. Insofar as this edition coincides with a paper reprint edition, the release exemplifies the consortium's ideal of the coexistence of print and electronic versions. - LM

Seales, W. Brent, James Griffioen, and Keven Kiernan. "The Digital Atheneum — Restoring Damaged Manuscripts" RLG DigiNews (December 15, 1999) (http://www.rlg.org/preserv/diginews/ diginews3-6.html#technical1) - Under the aegis of the Departments of English and Computer Science at the University of Kentucky, the NSF-funded Digital Atheneum project (http://www.digitalatheneum.org/) is exploring new techniques for restoring and making available previously lost witnesses existing in manuscripts that have been destroyed by the ravages of nature (such as the fire and attendant water damage that damaged the Cottonian MSS at the British Library) or any subsequent well-intentioned but faulty conservation techniques. The project's aim is the creation of a digital library of images of damaged texts that will have undergone a regimen of restoratives, including new fiber-optic lighting and contrast-enhancing techniques using white light, 3-D representation and mosaicing technologies, and a battery of clever restoration algorithms. Users will avail themselves of these restored/enhanced images through data-specific content search techniques against the data, which will have been processed using a semantic object-oriented processing language and interface called MOODS (on which see the online article with further references at http://www.uky.edu/~kiernan/DL/brent.html). - LM

Soloway, Elliot, et al. "K-12 and the Internet" Communications of the ACM (http://www.acm.org/cacm/) 43(1) (January, 2000) - The authors make a persuasive case for Internet access in grade schools, and have good responses for most of the standard objections. They're certainly not claiming that Internet use can substitute for learning the basics, but that it is a window on the world that needs to be reliably available in the classroom setting, where the inequality of resources between rich and poor might be somewhat mitigated. School librarians play a crucial role in identifying beneficial resources, which, as the authors point out, is a process of vetting, not filtering. In describing their own University of Michigan Digital Library (http://www.si.umich.edu/UMDL/) which is being used in schools in Ann Arbor and Detroit, the authors state "We replaced a Sisyphean Task (exclusion) with an almost impossible task (inclusion). Children, then, do not search the Internet per se; rather they search the materials registered in the library." On hardware, the authors know from experience that PCs are inappropriate for Internet use in public schools because of the problems of maintenance, viruses, mucking about with the settings and general physical abuse. They propose simple keyboards and monitors, and of course the funding and administrative support to keep the access consistent and hassle-free for the teaching staff. - JR

Webster, Janet and Cheryl Middleton. "Paying for Technology: Student Fees and Libraries" Journal of Academic Librarianship 25(6) (November 1999): 462-470. - Webster and Middleton examine the seven institutions of the Oregon University System and 7 peer institutions to discover best practices regarding student technology resource (TR) fees. At Oregon State University, like other institutions, the fees were instituted at a time of decreasing budgets and increasing needs for technology spending. The examination showed that very few libraries participated in the development of the TR fee process (planning, spending, etc.). Quite remarkably, with few exceptions the library was not seen as an important provider of technology for students. The authors conclude that strategic planning, budgeting, and communication which includes student input are all factors which lead to successful uses of technology resource fees. - LR


Current Cites 11(1) (January 2000) ISSN: 1060-2356
Copyright © 2000 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley. All rights reserved.

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