Current Cites (Digital Library SunSITE)

Volume 12, no. 1, January 2001

Edited by Roy Tennant

The Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720
ISSN: 1060-2356 - http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CurrentCites/2001/cc01.12.1.html

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

Austen, Ian. "Rebooted Any Good Books Lately?" The New York Times (January 4, 2001): Section G; Page 1; Column 2 (http://www.nytimes.com/2001/01/04/technology/04BOOK.html). - This overview of e-books takes a look at dedicated book readers such as the Franklin eBookman and the REB 1100 from RCA as well as software such as Microsoft Reader that allows palm style devices to act as reading devices. The issues to keep in mind when selecting an ebook include battery life, ease of use and navigation, readability, size and, something that is sometimes overlooked, the availability of books to download. While each of the readers and software options have their own strengths and weaknesses it is the difficulty of locating and downloading titles that appears to be a major obstacle in the adoption of this technology. For example, various titles available online may only be read using Microsoft Reader and only on a desktop or laptop computer, the process of downloading can be onerous and the cost of e-books is barely less than their print counterparts. It seems that this interesting area of new reading technology has a ways to go before competing with the erstwhile paperback. - ML

Calhoun, Karen, and John J. Reimer, guest eds. "CORC: New Tools and Possibilities for Coopertaive Electronic Resource Description" The Journal of Internet Cataloging 4(1/2) (2001). - The entire issue is devoted to discussing the Cooperative Online Resource Cataloging (CORC) project, an effort led by OCLC to catalog Internet resources. If this is all new to you, begin with the first article "Collaboration in CORC" by Thomas B. Hickey of OCLC (p.5-16). Other contributions cover specific areas of the CORC effort, or particular experiences with using it. [By the way, is it just me, or shouldn't the Journal of Internet Cataloging at least have Dublin Core metadata in META tags on the journal home page?] - RT

Cohen, Laura B. "Yahoo! and the Abdication of Judgment" American Libraries 32(1) (January 2001): 60-62. - In this piece Cohen rightly criticizes the library profession for overlooking the many faults of the Internet subject directory Yahoo!. She cites several reasons for this: a) a fear that users will see our opposition to typical user behavior as irrelevant, b) our desire to give our customers what they want (even if it isn't particularly good for them), c) abandonment our mission to improve user searching behavior, and d) negligence of our professional responsibilities. "In a world where the proliferation of information is accelerating," Cohen asserts, "and paradigmatic changes are sweeping our profession, we cannot toy with our standards or the trust of our users." Her solution? "We should explain to our users the deficiencies of Yahoo!, establish a repertoire of recommended alternatives, and teach those alternatives with confidence." Cohen reminds me that the reaction of the library profession (not everyone, but in general) to the Internet passed through several stages: indifferent ignorance, denial, opposition, tentative acceptance, and slavish acceptance. It appears that Cohen is hopeful that we can move out of the slavish acceptance stage by remembering and reapplying our professional principles to the Internet age. - RT

Cox, Richard J. "The Great Newspaper Caper: Backlash in the Digital Age" First Monday 5(12) (December 4, 2000) (http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue5_12/cox/). - Anyone who ever felt peeved reading noted author Nicholson Baker's send-up of the San Francisco Public Library's new building, and, more recently, his article on the crisis in newspaper preservation, should read this article. Cox presents a well-organized deconstruction of Baker's central premises, and manages to be polite in doing so. He makes the case that a "big lie" is being foisted on the American public, namely, that research libraries are being irresponsible. This and other points are made throughout the article, making this it a useful companion piece to Baker's ruminations. - TH

Gregory, Vicki L. "UCITA: What Does it Mean for Libraries?" Online (25)1 (Jan/Feb 2001) p. 30-34 (http://www.onlineinc.com/onlinemag/OL2001/gregory1_01.html). - UCITA, the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act, is really a proposal which attempts to standardize contract law for digital resource licenses on a state-by-state basis. It must be adopted by each state legislature — contract law generally being a state matter — but its power to change how your library handles such resources is just as potent as federal law. Opponents believe that UCITA can severely restrict the fair use exemptions in copyright law which librarians and others rely upon; adherents believe that copyright law will take precedence. This clash and other areas of contention are admirably explained in layman's terms by the author, as are the diffences between general regulation (copyright) and arrangement between private parties (contract). This article will be of particular interest to collection development librarians and administrators responsible for analyzing the terms of agreement for CDs, DVDs and online access. - JR

Hafner, Katie. "Web Sites Begin to Self Organize" The New York Times (January 18, 2001): Section G; Page 1; Column 1 (http://www.nytimes.com/2001/01/18/technology/18SELF.html). - Librarians are constantly stressing the importance of critically evaluating the quality of websites before trusting the information provided. In a spinoff from the user ratings seen at sites such as Amazon or CNET, there is an emerging class of sites, thevines.com, themestream.com, and plastic.com being examples, whereby users grade content. For example, a writer can contribute material to one of these sites on ancient Rome. Users then rate the work according to a grading system. When someone else is looking for work on ancient Rome those writings which have received higher grades from users will automatically come to the top of the search list. The websites thus become self-organizing or self-adapting. Each of the sites have developed ways to prevent what they call "click circles" whereby groups of friends bombard the site with glowing reviews of a particular item. Some sites such as Slashdot do have a modicum of editorial oversight but for the most part a user is relying on unknown reviewers to filter and rate content. Eventually, one may trust the opinions of particular reviewers but for the most part this still leaves us with the problem of evaluating the evaluators. - ML

Lagoze, Carl. "Keeping Dublin Core Simple: Cross-Domain Discover or Resource Description?" D-Lib Magazine 7(1) (January 2001) (http://www.dlib.org/dlib/january01/lagoze/01lagoze.html). - Readers of Current Cites are familiar with the Dublin Core (DC) — a draft standard for recording basic information about "document-like objects". Designed as a common meeting ground between more robust descriptive systems such as MARC, there has been pressure from some participants in the process to complicate the DC to allow more complex and full-featured DC systems. In this readable and well-argued article, Lagoze explains the rationale behind keeping DC simple. By using simple but efffective examples, Lagoze makes a compelling argument for his contention, and one that those actively using the DC would do well to heed. Even users of DC do not always realize that it is only meant to be a medium of exchange of metadata between more complex metadata schemes, and not a complex metadata scheme itself. It is, in the end, too simple to be of much use for anything except simple resource discovery. Which, if you remember your history (back lo, those many years ago in 1995), is all it set out to be in the first place. - RT

Morgan, Eric Lease, ed. "Special Issue: User-Customizable Library Portals" Information Technology and Libraries 19(4) (December 2000) (http://www.lita.org/ital/ital1904.html) - We've had excellent articles introducing the concept and others profiling individual sites, but for those who want to delve deeper into the My Library thing and see how it's playing out in several locations, this is for you. Implementation is still new enough that nobody has really conclusive usage stats, but patterns are emerging which show that, while they can't replace a well-planned library Web presence and an efficient search system, customizable features are catching on and are highly valued by early adopters (including librarians who are using them to create quick course-oriented library pages). Articles on the experience at North Carolina State, University of Washington and Virginia Commonwealth University focus on the technical details of creation and assessment of usage, while others address change in organizational culture and impact on the nature of librarianship. Some libraries which already have prototypes in the works may be beyond most of this, but I believe that group is still pretty small. The library administrators who haven't considered this option because they're short on computing staff may want to rethink after reading this issue. The paths have been cleared by the pioneers using open source software, so putting it in place doesn't require a large investment in systems staff time. - JR

Raveendra, V.V.S. "E-Business Application Development: The Paradigm Shift from In-House Application Development" First Monday 6(1) (January 8, 2001) (http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue6_1/raveendra/). - This article analyzes e-business applications in plain English but with considerable depth. Systems librarians and others who need to be thinking about e-business applications of their own, like digital reference on a "24/7" basis, will appreciate the author's straightforward remarks. For example, he says that Web pages "'need not be beautiful' but they do need to keep customers happy." He also displays good awareness of what different settings require. - TH

"Top Technology Trends" Top Technology Trends Committee, Library and Information Technology Association (http://www.lita.org/committe/toptech/mainpage.htm). - This is not technically a cite, but rather a heads-up notice about the Web publication which will summarize this discussion which occurred at the ALA Midwinter 2001 meeting in January. Topics included e-books, user customization and censorship of online resources crossing national boundaries. The site is worth visiting now to see the records of discussions at previous meetings, and to become familiar with the group. Of course, by the time you read this, the Midwinter 2001 summary may be already there, but isn't that the net way ... - JR


Current Cites 12(1) (January 2001) ISSN: 1060-2356
Copyright © 2001 by the Regents of the University of California All rights reserved.

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Copyright © 2001 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
Document maintained at http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CurrentCites/2000/cc01.12.1.html by Roy Tennant.
Last update January 29, 2001. SunSITE Manager: manager@sunsite.berkeley.edu