Current Cites (Digital Library SunSITE)

Volume 11, no. 4, April 2000

Edited by Teri Andrews Rinne

The Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720
ISSN: 1060-2356 -

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

Brown, John Seely, and Duguid, Paul. "Special Issue with Excerpts from: The Social Life of Information" First Monday 5 (4) (April 3, 2000) (; Brown, John Seely and Paul Duguid, The Social Life of Information, Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2000. - The book has been on the New York Times Bestseller list, and an early manuscript was published here on First Monday a few years back. Now the netzine is publishing the table of contents, introduction, and first three chapters for the online audience to review. If you haven't browsed it in a bookstore, take a look here, for free. Iconoclastic and unflinching in their analysis, the authors skewer the many excesses of media hyperbole about information technology and the Internet. A refreshing focus on how people use — and fail to use — technology emerges from the text, a universal dilemma that librarians have been speaking to for years. An excellent read. - TH

Buehler, Marianne. "U.S. Federal Government CIOs: Information Technology's New Managers - Preliminary Findings" Journal of Government Information 27 (1) (January/February 2000): 29-45. - "Elements of efficiency that customers can measure are the time they spend standing in line or being placed on hold at the end of a phone connection attempting to access information." But hasn't information technology made all that go away? I'm sure you know from experience (and inference from Buehler's quote above) that the revolution is far from complete, and some government agencies have been among the most recalcitrant. This article examines one aspect of recent Congressional and Executive mandates for improvement: the employment of chief information officers as agents for change. The Clinger-Cohen Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-106) and Clinton's Executive Order 13011 have been in effect long enough that the author felt a survey was in order, and she reports on compliance, the nature of the CIO position in practice, and impacts on agency information policies. The oversight roles of the General Accounting Office and the Office of Management and Budget are also described. As systems analysts know, the organization is an integral part of the problem, and can be part of the solution, too; these first CIOs are in a position to address the "pervasive waste in government IT spending and inexusably poor consumer-service systems" and take action. - JR

Burk, Roberta. "Don't Be Afraid of E-Books" Library Journal 125(7) (April 15, 2000): 42-45. - There has been a lot of hype lately about e-books and how they are poised to transform the way in which we purchase and read books. This article goes beyond the hype by describing how one library has successfully added e-books and their associated readers to their collection. Ebooks that do not require specialized hardware (such as those offered by NetLibrary) are not covered in this article. A sidebar highlights several types of hardware- and software-based ebook systems. It is too early to tell what impact these devices may have on libraries, but this article is an important early report on how at least one library is being successful at integrating this type of material into their array of services. - RT

Carr, Sara and Vincent Kiernan. "For-Profit Web Venture Seeks to Replicate the University Experience Online" The Chronicle of Higher Education (April 14, 2000): A59-A60. - Five educational and cultural institutions have come together to construct a for-profit web site that seeks to recreate not just university courses, but also the intellectual milieu of a university campus. Partner institutions include Columbia University, the British Library, the Cambridge University Press, the London School of Economics and Political Science, the New York Public Library, and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, with possible additional participants joining later.Called Fathom (, the business will not grant degrees or create courses, but will market courses developed by its members. Although fees will be charged for courses and some online content, much of the content of the web site will be available for free once the site opens later this year. - RT

Floyd, Michael. "Blowing XML Bubbles" Web Techniques (March 2000) ( - The hype surrounding XML has been ubiquitous enough to filter even into those circles which generally avoid structured text issues. Floyd explores the ever-expanding 'XML bubble' in a series of email interviews with a handful of representatives of some of the most pneumatic bubble blowers in the XML community: Reid Conrad from Extensibility, Bob Bickel from Bluestone Software, Coco Jaenicke from eXcelon, and Marie Wieck from the IBM Network Computing Software Division. The questions and answers explore: the roles and uses of XML (integration, exchange, content management) in the B2B and publishing communities, and whether the standard is seen to have fractured or aggregated different user communities; when XML might not be suitable (these evangelists were hard-pressed to find examples); what its limitations are; and a rundown of some of the most interesting innovative uses of XML the participants have come across. - LM

Guernsey, Lisa. "Unplugged on Campus, but Always Connected" New York Times (April 20, 2000): Section D, p. 1 - Focusing on a small liberal arts college Mount St. Mary College in New York State, wireless technology and networks in the academic setting are seen as a relatively inexpensive means of providing network access. Wireless connectivity has so permeated the daily existence at this college that students, faculty and librarians are always connected, whether in the dorms, the library or the classroom. As with many schools, computer labs and offices had already been wired for high speed access but the problem was how to extend this to classrooms, dormitories and libraries without breaking the bank. Working with a company called Proxim the wireless network was installed, and students were given discounts for wireless adapter cards. The network consists of access points, or hubs, that are plugged into the existing network at a cost far less than a hardwired solution. With rapidly improving technology network speed is far greater than dial-up modems but still lags hardwired networks. - ML

"The Next Chapter" 2600 17(1) (Spring 2000): p. 5-8. - We certainly wouldn't cite anything from 2600, the "hacker quarterly," as an endorsement of illegal hacking or as a validation of the more dubious claims made in its pages, but it's worth looking at because it's the single best source for learning about hacker ethics and attitudes. "The Next Chapter" is of interest because it includes, straight from the horse's mouth, typical arguments offered in defense: that hackers are benign investigators performing a service by uncovering ways to exploit security weaknesses, that freedom of speech overrides intellectual property protections, and that large media and communications companies are inherently tyrannical and deserve to be attacked. Specifically, it addresses the fact that the 2600 web site and others are being sued by the Motion Picture Association of America for publishing the deCSS code which can be used to defeat access controls on DVDs. (The essay isn't clearly attributed to "Emmanuel Goldstein," editor Eric Corley's pseudonym taken from Orwell's 1984, but I'm assuming it's his work since it fits the editorial pattern set in previous issues.) Other interesting pieces include a thank-you note from Kevin Mitnick to the readership, and of course many examples of the "how-to" articles which attract the attention of lawyers and FBI agents. If 2600 is new to you, it may help to know that it is something of an institution, having been in print since 1984, and is just one manifestation of a community that has employed Usenet, chat rooms, the web and other less obvious methods to stay connected. - JR

Pack, Thomas. "Epublishing: Revolution or Virtual Vanity Press?" Econtent (April/May 2000): 52-56. - Pack offers yet another look at the double-edged sword that is e-publishing, and investigates some of the implications for information professionals of the e-self-publishing revolution. What, Pack asks, are the implications for libraries of the growing spate of e-publication? Is it merely adding to the problem of information overload? Without the traditional editorial vetting constraints on what gets published, how will librarians be able to sort the wheat from the chaff? On a more technical level, what issues will arise in the realm of e-cataloguing, e-ordering and e-purchasing? His focus here is on's eMatter initiative, which is poised to become a revolutionary forum for serialized works in the manner of Dickens' A Christmas Carol; all sorts of shorter works of non-fiction and fiction, how-tos, and technical manuals, among others. has also established itself as a place for published authors to offer out-of-print titles to which they hold copyright. Needless to say, scholarly publication is another can of worms altogether. Whereas the scientific community has taken swift advantage of scholarly web publishing consortia for expediting dissemination of time-sensitive findings and fostering interactive scholarship, humanities scholarship, despite generalized rankling over 2-to-3-year backlogs at some major print journals, seems slow to accept web publication as a viable standard. Pack's article addresses the familiar concern that in many cases the e-publishing process bypasses a certain level of critical vetting by agents, editors, scholarly readers and publishers. He explores how the eMatter initiative is facing this issue by striving to assure quality in its offerings and by educating its users to make intelligent choices. In the place of traditional critical vetting stands The Market, along with a "decency" criterion which proscribes hate language, slander and obscenity. Further, a proposed e-manuscript must run the gauntlet of the 4 Bs (i.e., that it is suitable for bathroom, bedroom, bus and beach). The website offers a standard box of tools for making critical choices, such as editorial promotion and highlighting of the highest quality material, dynamically sorted best-seller lists, along with offering reader reviews and author bios. It also backs up its transactions with a moneyback guarantee. - LM

Trehub, Aaron. "Creating Fee-Based Online Services: A New Role for Academic Librarians" Library Hi Tech 17(4) (1999): 372-389. - In this overview of two fee-based services at the University of Illinois Library at Urbana-Champaign, Trehub makes a case for libraries and Librarians as "start-to-finish content creators." New opportunities opened up by the Internet and the web have allowed the University of Illinois to migrate the Bibliography of Slavic and East European Studies (ABSEES) and the Illinois Researcher Information Service (IRIS) into web-based subscription services. He outlines the basic ingredients necessary for a successful fee-based service, which including high quality content, adequate hardware and software, programming and systems support, administrative support, an advertising budget, skilled bibliographers and indexers and institutional commitment. Responding to the debate over fee vs. free services Trehub believes that fee services can augment and support traditional library services. While the case is forcefully made, the problem is that the IRIS database of federal and private funding opportunities, is subsidizing the more "traditional" bibliographic guide ABSEES. The question then remains whether something like ABSEES can survive in the marketplace without such outside financial assistance. In any case, such ventures for Trehub have the added benefit of promoting what has been dubbed "intellectually-based librarianship" and thereby raising professional status. - ML

"Secure Your Data" Web Techniques (April 2000) ( - April's Web Techniques features a handful of articles addressing various ways of stopping up those nasty security holes we inevitably open ourselves up to when we head for the net, whether as surfers, e-consumers, information technologists, or administrators. Aviel D. Rubin, in "None of Your E-Business" ( , examines the web user's vulnerability to identity theft, surveillance and monitoring due to greatly enhanced means for the aggregation and cross-referencing of personal information amassed through snooping into email, cookies, e-business transactions (whether at e-bookstores, e-groceries, or e-pharmacies — 50 packs of cigarettes in a month? what would your insurance provider think?). Rubin offers a few weapons to fend off e-salesmen, the boss, the system admin, or the hacker down the hall with a packet sniffer, including: using proxy servers, PGP encryption, certificates, secure channels, and clearing your cache. Lincoln Stein, in "Security in an 'Always On' World" ( , realized early that his new "Always On" DSL service translated to "Always Exposed". You may not have a server humming away in your basement, but if you do, this article is packed with good advice for hiding IPs, keeping your ports probe-free, and protecting your data behind firewalls. Matt Curtain, in "On Guard: Fortifying Your Site Against Attack" (, outlines how to turn your web server into a bastion host, complete with a DMZ network (it's a war out there!), cryptography, and security patches. Chuck Newman in "Sharing Too Much: The Dangers of Hosting on Windows NT" ( , shares what he learned about NT server security when he was able to hack into his ISP's entire file system using a humble File System Object. - LM

Current Cites 11(4) (April 2000) ISSN: 1060-2356
Copyright © 2000 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley. All rights reserved.

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