Current Cites (Digital Library SunSITE)

Volume 12, no. 2, February 2001

Edited by Roy Tennant

ISSN: 1060-2356 - http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CurrentCites/2001/cc01.12.2.html

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

Bicentennial Conference on Bibliographic Control for the New Millennium: Confronting the Challenges of Networked Resoures and the Web Washington, DC: The Library of Congress (November 15-17, 2000) (http://lcweb.loc.gov/catdir/bibcontrol/conference.html). - Anyone interested in library bibliographic control may find this set of discussion papers, presentations, and responses interesting. Participants included such cataloging and metadata luminaries as Michael Gorman, Clifford Lynch, Priscilla Caplan, William Moen, Martin Dillon, and Caroline Arms, among others. The complete proceedings are online, including the reactions of assigned commentators to certain presentations. Recommendations from "topical discussion groups" are also available, but are somewhat disappointing in depth and scope -- no doubt because of the limited time allowed to address the topics. Although overall I found it to be more complacent ("search engines/dot coms need us" was one plaint -- no matter that they couldn't care less) than is warranted in these times of bibliographic upheaval, there are useful papers, presentations, and comments here. - RT

Grönlund, Åke, guest ed. "Democracy in an IT-Framed Society." Lance J. Hoffman and Lorrie Cranor, guest eds. "Internet Voting for Public Officials." Communications of the ACM 44(1) (January 2001). - First things first: you won't find a remedy for the Florida electoral mess in either of these two special sections of the January CACM, but the second of them presents well-defended pro and con arguments about online voting, which has received increasing attention as a way of avoiding chad-chasing, selective counting and the whole sorry story. The pro side acknowledges implementation problems yet to be solved but promises increased participation and accountability; the con side raises serious questions about security and equity. The 'IT-Framed Society' section targets policy makers who may consider the broadest applications of information technology to social planning, governance and political organization. There are nine articles on such topics as the European Union's newness being a logical incubator for new public information systems, methods for rating IT's effects on democratic participation, and roles computer professionals can play (using the Seattle Community Network [www.scn.org] as an example). Readers who are unfamiliar with the CACM and assume that the content is always technical in nature would have their heads turned by issues like this one. - JR

Guernsey, Lisa. "Mining the 'Deep Web' With Sharper Shovels?" The New York Times (January 25, 2001): Section D; Page 1; Column 2. - The 'deep' or 'invisible' web is becoming more of on an issue as the web grows and the ability of search engines to index pages fails to keep pace. Information is often hidden deep within pages not indexed or missed because it is a multimedia or Adobe Acrobat (PDF) file or contained within a database. According to some analysts as little as a fraction of 1% of the web can be accessed by search engines. In response, there is a new type of speciality or "boutique" search engine that narrows the information universe to more manageable proportions. An example, is MySimon that allows user to comparison shop across sites, moreover.com that culls headlines from nearly 2000 news sites and Google's "Uncle Sam" area that limits searching to governmental information. These specialized search tools use sophisticated bots to filter and hone in on information. Interestingly, it is probably users who may hinder their own ability to become more efficient searchers as most people, as librarians know, seem to prefer to do a broad search in the biggest database possible. - ML

Kenney, Anne R. and Oya Y. Rieger, editors. "The National Library of Australia's Digital Preservation Agenda, an Interview with Colin Webb" RLG DigiNews 5(1) (February 15, 2001) (http://www.rlg.org/preserv/diginews/diginews5-1.html#feature1). - As the Director of Preservation of the National Library of Australia, there are few persons as well-placed and as experienced as Colin Webb when it comes to dealing with digital preservation issues on a grand scale. Australia has established itself at the forefront of a number of digital library initiatives, and digital preservation is clearly one. This interview touches on a number of reasons why, but admittedly at the 30,000 foot level. Anyone intrigued with the NLA digital preservation efforts discussed in this interview would do well to investigate the provided URLs. - RT

Lake, David. ""Engines Idling Roughly" The Standard (February 9, 2001) (http://www.thestandard.com/research/metrics/display/0,2799,22065,00.html). - A brief article, with good graphs and charts, that summarizes some recent studies of search engine use. Only 7% of web pages are accessed via a search engine but 60% of web surfers using a search engine for at least one hour a week. Despite a majority of users indicating they are frustrated with search engines within 15 minutes, 60% still rate their own searches as "often" successful. Of course, if Google indexes only 42% of all searchable pages — and they are ranked number one in this category - who knows what users are missing. - ML

Mickey, Bill. "Open Source and Libraries: An Interview with Dan Chudnov" Online 25(1) (January 2001). - Current Cites readers and others will remember Dan Chudnov from his Docster article in Library Journal, in which he had the audacity to suggest a Napster-like model for interlibrary loan. His piece on open source software in Library Journal did not escape our notice either. In fact, the library community had better keep a close watch on this guy, since he is out to change not just what we do, but how we do it. How? By getting together and writing the software we need in an open, cooperative environment. By using our imaginations instead of our checkbooks. And by not accepting "we've never done it that way" as an adequate excuse. Yes, I would keep my eye on him if I were you. And this interview is as good a place to start as any, although at the time this piece was written he was still at Yale (he has since quit to start his own venture). In this interview Chudnov makes a case for open source software in libraries, in a way that makes it clear he is excited by this. We should be too. - RT

Ockerbloom, John Mark. "Archiving and Preserving PDF Files" RLG DigiNews 5(1) (February 15, 2001) (http://www.rlg.org/preserv/diginews/diginews5-1.html#feature2). - The Adobe Acrobat (Portable Document Format, PDF) format is not generally considered to be the format of choice for long-term preservation of digital documents. But, as Ockerbloom points out, neither should it be considered to be a format completely unsuitable for preservation. Although Adobe Systems, Inc. controls the format, the specification is freely published and widely implemented. Third-party software (including open source applications) are available that can manipulate the format in various ways, including migrating it to a different format. This article is the best explication I've seen of the format, the ways in which document in this format can be "rescued" or migrated into another format, and pitfalls and opportunities along the way. He includes specific steps institutions can take to reduce their exposure to document disaster down the road. As Ockerbloom says, "in summary, it is reasonable, given careful techniques..., for institutions to collect documents in PDF format with the expectation that they can be archived and preserved indefinitely, even as computer technology and standards advance." Is this a defensible statement? Time will certainly tell, but meanwhile, I'm much more convinced of it than I was before reading this piece. - RT

Odlyzko, Andrew. "Content is Not King" First Monday 6(2) (February 5, 2001) (http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue6_2/odlyzko/). - The author studies recent advances in "connectivity" and evaluates whether Bill Gates was right when he famously stated that "content is king". He builds a strong case around the argument that the Internet is really "about connectivity", and that vast investments in content are misguided. The central point he makes is that newer technologies (such as Wireless Application Protocol and Short Message System) emphasize voice calls. This article is most interesting as an exercise in the technology-based deconstruction of Internet myth making, with the content myth as its subject. Essentially, the hazards of coining epithets at net-speed are many, because the development stream may shift pathways in a matter of months. - TH


Current Cites 12(2) (February 2001) ISSN: 1060-2356
Copyright © 2001 by the Regents of the University of California All rights reserved.

Copying is permitted for noncommercial use by computerized bulletin board/conference systems, individual scholars, and libraries. Libraries are authorized to add the journal to their collections at no cost. This message must appear on copied material. All commercial use requires permission from the editor. All product names are trademarks or registered trade marks of their respective holders. Mention of a product in this publication does not necessarily imply endorsement of the product. To subscribe to the Current Cites distribution list, send the message "sub cites [your name]" to listserv@library.berkeley.edu, replacing "[your name]" with your name. To unsubscribe, send the message "unsub cites" to the same address.

Copyright © 2001 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
Document maintained at http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CurrentCites/2000/cc01.12.2.html by Roy Tennant.
Last update February 27, 2001. SunSITE Manager: manager@sunsite.berkeley.edu