Current Cites (Digital Library SunSITE)

Volume 11, no. 9, September 2000

Edited by Roy Tennant

The Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720
ISSN: 1060-2356 - http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CurrentCites/2000/cc00.11.9.html

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

Abreu, Elinor. "Diving into the Deep Web" The Standard (September 4, 2000) (http://www.thestandard.com/article/display/0,1151,18134,00.html). - In a brief overview of a couple of companies Abreu brings to light an issue that librarians have worried about for a number of years — how to locate information that is contained deep within web-based databases. Most search engines will not search within databases, or as Abreu calls it, "the deep Web." A recent survey suggests that there may be 550 billion documents in the deep web. Now there are a number of companies developing products that will search multiple databases on the web, especially because the cost of indexing has been falling. - ML

Borgman, Christine L. "The Premise and Promise of a Global Information Infrastructure" First Monday 5(8) (August 7, 2000) (http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue5_8/borgman/). - Borgman assesses the rapid growth of worldwide networking capabilities, and analyzes the interplay between the technology and the political forces that govern the introduction of technology. She argues that the premise of universal networking is rational, and the promise is exciting, because a genuine opportunity does exist to push technology to the places where it is needed the most. The two most likely pathways for the emergence of a ubiquitous network are evolutionary, and revolutionary. However, sustained growth in the information infrastructure does not necessarily yield new absolutes that will spur the growth of a utopian society. Borgman argues convincingly that existing political systems and cultural beliefs will have the greatest influence on the actual penetration of an information infrastructure throughout the world. - TH

Crawford, Walt. "Nine Models, One Name: Untangling the E-book Muddle" American Libraries (September 2000): 56-59. - With all the hype about device-dependent e-books like the Rocket eBook and the SoftBook reader (now both owned by the Gemstar International Group), it's easy to forget that: a) e-books are not new, and b) there are a number of other e-book publication models. Both of these points are ably presented by Crawford in an easy to understand overview of e-book choices. Crawford readily admits to not having an answer to the question of which model will be important to libraries, but then who does? Follow this piece with the Donald Hawkins article cited in this month's issue of Current Cites. - RT

Dodds, Leigh. "Instant RDF?" in <xml.com> (August 30, 2000) (http://www.xml.com/pub/2000/08/30/instantrdf/) and Dumbill, Edd, "Putting RDF to Work," in <xml.com> (August 9, 2000) (http://www.xml.com/pub/2000/08/09/rdfdb/). The Resource Description Framework (RDF, http://www.w3.org/RDF/), a mechanism for processing metadata (or data about data), is intended to provide interoperability for the exchange of machine-understandable metadata for online resources, whether they be text, data, image, video or audio files. Intelligent agents will harvest this information, which can then be used in resource discovery, description, and cataloguing. The hope is that with a standard system of resource description, a uniform query language will be able to perform structured queries over the entirety of the web. Two recent articles on RDF (the Resource Description Framework) in <xml.com> offer a more technical and behind-the-scenes slant on the standard as it evolves, covering how RDF will be generated, stored, culled, and processed: from controversies brewing on special-interest lists over the proposed data model and serialization syntax, to an explanation of the unsavory-sounding process known as "screen-scraping", to an intro to R.V. Guha's RDFDB (http://web1.guha.com/rdfdb/), a relational database application for RDF that roll-up-your-sleeves types can try at home. Dumbill offers a practical application for a kind of integrative RDF Store that would cross-reference all the data on your PC: websites, documents, scheduling apps and email. By querying an RDF database for data connections on your PC you could conceivably search on and collect all the applicable documents and emails from that visiting dignitary/important client/job candidate you're meeting at 3:00 today, and before she arrives, check out her homepage! - LM

"The Future of Books" CQ Researcher 10(24) (June 23 2000):545-568. - A collection of short articles that outline the major parameters surrounding the issue of electronic books. Included is a historical discussion of the development of printing, the business of publishing and recent trends in electronic publishing. Along with the articles are a number of useful sidebars containing statistics, as well as a brief bibliography. While the articles would not contain anything new for someone who has been following the issues it is an easily-accessible starting point for the neophyte interested in the debate surrounding e-books and the digital revolution. - ML

Hawkins, Donald T. "Electronic Books: a Major Publishing Revolution. Part 1: General Considerations and Issues" Online 24(4) (July/August 2000):14-28. - Few subjects freak out people who love books like this one does. Read the article and then recommend it to anybody who needs to calm down and get a grip, because it's a realistic and comprehensive view of current e-book publishing which makes it clear that the phenomenon is a new set of alternatives and not a plague. Hawkins provides a primer on the nature of e-books and the technology available for displaying them, the factors which stop most people from reading long works on a screen, problems publishers are grappling with, and how libraries are dealing with the issue. The thoroughness here is impressive, references are documented and the lists of URLs and articles for further reading are extensive. There will be a second part published in the September Online with the focus on the players in this market. - JR

Madeiros, Norm. "XML and the Resource Description Framework: The Great Web Hope" Online (September 2000) (http://www.onlineinc.com/onlinemag/OL2000/medeiros9.html). - Norm Madeiros makes explicit one librarian's hope for this massive Library of Babel we call the web: that through a standardized metadata framework called the Resource Description Framework (RDF), finding resources on the web might someday be as easy as accessing resources in the library using your friendly local OPAC. Libraries have been the originators and purveyors par excellence of metadata, from the red ribbon rubrics which announced the contents of scrolls in the Library of Alexandria to modern MARC records which form the backbone for various OPAC systems that guide library patrons to the shelf or electronic file containing the resource they seek. Evoking the W3C RDF Model and Syntax Specification's call (http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-rdf-syntax/) for a "Web of Trust" built on the twin pillars of the RDF standard and Digital Signatures, Madeiros traces the sad history of the prostitution of <META> tags by (especially e-commerce) content providers, and looks askance at the "popularity-contest" model of web-indexing and ranking used by search engines like Google. The solution may come with the adoption of RDF: an objective, descriptive, machine-understandable standard. For those new to RDF (i.e. those who involuntarily raise their eyebrows at the mention of "screen-scraping") Madeiros appends a couple of handy cut-&-paste models; the abbreviated syntax, which I excerpt here, works with HTML, linking to it as you would to a stylesheet, with <LINK>:

<rdf:RDF xmlns:rdf="http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#"
         xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.0/">
  <rdf:Description rdf:about="http://doc"
      dc:creator="your name here"
      dc:title="your document"
      dc:description="what it is"
      dc:date="2000-09-10" />
</rdf:RDF>
- LM

Melamut, Steven J. "Pursuing Fair Use, Law Libraries and Electronic Reserves" Law Library Journal 92(2) (Spring 2000):157-192 (http://www.aallnet.org/products/2000-16.pdf). - Melamut takes the reader through an extensive overview of the leading cases and legal developments that face libraries which provide a formal electronic reserve collection. He discusses the copyright issues in traditional reserves spending much time on the so-called Classroom Guidelines that are part of the legislative history of the 1976 Copyright Act and the applicable fair use sections of the Act. While there hasn't been any litigation regarding electronic reserves there are a number of significant cases concerning the creation of coursepacks and these give some indication of the legal landscape that may be applicable to the area of course reserves. Melamut suggests that libraries will now have to address the issue of the payment of permission fees given the fact that the technology makes it much easier to monitor the use of protected materials and that schools may be liable for copyright infringement for material from an e-reserve collection. - ML

Sholtz, Paul. "Economics of Personal Information Exchange" First Monday 5(9) (September 4, 2000) (http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue5_9/sholtz/). - Sholtz argues that personal information has become the new currency of online commerce. However, recent figures indicate that between 75 and 90 million Americans regularly use the Internet, but they rarely pay for the content they see. These users appear to be comfortable offering personal information in exchange for free services and information. As this "economy" develops, large "libraries" of personal data are being accumulated, bought and sold. This article explores some of the connotations of e-commerce, which so far has relied upon moving conventional business practices to the Web. Sholtz see an emerging opportunity for vendors who can grasp how "communities" of customers can be approached in ways that protect privacy but offer online advantages. - TH

Sitts, Maxine K., editor. Handbook for Digital Projects: A Management Tool for Preservation and Access Andover, MA: Northeast Document Conservation Center, 2000 (http://www.nedcc.org/dighand.htm). - The School for Scanning is a long-running and well-respected workshop on digitization for libraries, archives, and museums. Offered about once a year, the workshop usually attracts more than 300 attendees who leave the three-day session reeling under the load of more information than they could possibly absorb, presented by leaders in the field. Now this book documents some of the most important information the workshop has to offer, to the benefit of both those who attended the workshop and those who couldn't. With this hard-bound volume and the Kenney/Reiger work "Moving Theory Into Practice" (see the Current Cites review), those tackling digitization projects will be well-equipped indeed. - RT

Smith, Barbara H. "To Filter or not to Filter: The Role of the Public Library in Determining Internet Access" Communication Law and Policy 5(3) (Summer 2000):385-421. - As a starting point Smith discusses society's assumptions about the need to protect children from undesirable materials. She makes the point that the view of the child and harm has changed over the centuries resulting in a bourgeois view that aims to prolong the child's innocence for as long as possible. Building on this analysis the author outlines various theories of the first amendment and discusses a number of cases involving schools, libraries and protection of minors. In particular, she highlights the only filtering case to date, that of Mainstream Loudon v Board of Trustees of Loudon County, which held that the public library could not subject adults to the "electronic equivalent of a children's reading room." In addition, there have been a number of attempts over the last few years to introduce statutory law regulating Internet content. In the discussion of the issues surrounding filtering Smith suggests a three pronged solution to the problem: the introduction of privacy walls and screens so that other patrons would not inadvertently view materials they find offensive; separate children and adult computers with some filtering on the children's computers; and finally allowing parents to decide whether their children should be allowed to use unfiltered computers. Not everyone will agree with Smith's solutions, and it seems that there could be strong objections to parents blocking the types of materials their children — especially teenagers — can access in the public library. However, this article clearly articulates the major arguments in the filtering debate and is useful in this role alone. - ML

Stratford, Jean Slemmons and Juri. "Computerized and Networked Government Information" Journal of Government Information 27(3) (May/June 2000): 385-389. - The column, written by this couple from U.C. Davis, focuses in this issue on government services via the Internet. It's a little mystifying why the authors state that the focus is on international topics when most of the examples given are domestic. Regardless, this is a nice sampling of efforts made by governmental and intergovernmental groups to provide interactive services over the net. For me, the richest trove came from their description of the federal report "Integrated Service Delivery: Governments Using Technology to Serve Citizens" (http://policyworks.gov/org/main/mg/intergov/isdtitp.html) because it led me to poke around at the root policyworks.gov. This is the home page for the General Services Administration's Office of Governmentwide Policy, which has lots of links relating to aspects of federal information policy, the most pertinent being the one for the Office of Information Technology's "IT Policy On-Ramp" (http://www.itpolicy.gsa.gov/). Besides the feds, the authors describe projects by the G8 countries, National Governors' Association and state and local agencies. - JR


Current Cites 11(9) (September 2000) ISSN: 1060-2356
Copyright © 2000 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley. All rights reserved.

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Document maintained at http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CurrentCites/2000/cc00.11.9.html by Roy Tennant.
Last update September 26, 2000. SunSITE Manager: manager@sunsite.berkeley.edu