Current Cites (Digital Library SunSITE)

Volume 12, no. 6, June 2001

Edited by Roy Tennant

The Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720
ISSN: 1060-2356 - http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CurrentCites/2001/cc01.12.6.html

Contributors: Margaret Gross, Terry Huwe, Shirl Kennedy, Leo Robert Klein, Margaret Phillips, Jim Ronningen, Roy Tennant

Bonett, Monica. Personalization of Web Services: Opportunities and Challenges" Ariadne Issue 28 (June 2001) (http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue28/personalization/). - Bonett begins by describing what personalization is and the purposes for offering personalization options for web sites. She uses commercial web sites to illustrate different kinds of personalization, then briefly discusses each specific method for providing personalization. In the third section she highlights library examples of web personalization, and finishes with a "challenges" section in which she outlines some thorny issues (such as usability and ethics) that must be addressed. The piece is illustrated with screen shot examples, all web site URLs are provided, and many of the bibliographic references are available online. - RT

Brabazon, Tara. "Internet Teaching and the Administration of Knowledge" First Monday 6(6) (June 4, 2001) (http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue6_6/brabazon/). - The author, an Australian, assesses the impact on the Internet on universities in a wide-ranging analysis that deconstructs the role of teachers, classrooms and pedagogy in general. She makes the interesting point that the "crisis" in university education purportedly triggered by the Internet coincides with a dramatic increase in the enrollment of women and minorities, including reentry students. Her analysis of the issues surrounding teacher performance and quality in the classroom are very well-stated, striking through the rhetoric surrounding attempts to do "corporate makeovers" in the academy. - TH

Bradford, Phillip G., Brown, Herbert E., and Saunders, Paula M. "Pricing, Agents, Perceived Value and the Internet" First Monday 6(6) (June 4, 2001) (http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue6_6/bradford/). - The authors make the powerful but simple point that however innovative the Internet is as a new delivery system for consumers, "perceived value" will always trump price in determining how much, and what people will want to buy. Dropping prices, of course, do have an impact on sales, but it only goes so far. People make purchase decisions based on value, and ultimately, value cannot be detached from commodity. This article provides a useful background in what many might think of as Economics 101. However, perhaps more e-commerce visionaries should thought about perceived value, in recent years. - TH

Freely, IP. "Looking for a Job" Netslaves (http://www.netslaves.com/comments/992865072.shtml). - One version of the dot-commer myth says that the young whippersnappers have always been free to cash out bigtime, and that the idle ones have no bigger worry than avoiding those little bits of croissant shrapnel on the caf'e chairs where they rest their golden-IPO'd butts. News to the contrary has spread fast: almost all of these newly unemployed people are hurting. If you're one of the many librarians who are wondering if they might be able to lure jobless programmers to their lower-paid but more secure library jobs, you might want to taste the bitterness and check out the "Netslaves: Undertakers of the New Economy" Web site. The cited article (a posting, really, complete with sassy pseudonym) is representative of what you can expect. Granted, at a site made for venting you will encounter rude language, but that's natural given the roller-coaster crash they've been through. Read about their sometimes absurd experiences (the item about all of those Aeron chairs [http://www.netslaves.com/comments/989387319.shtml] bought with venture capital bucks), fears (how about homelessness), and generational humor (reader's poll: "When I go to hell I'll hear ... Ice, ice, baby"). The site was started by Bill Lessard and Steve Baldwin, authors of the book NetSlaves: True Tales of Working the Web, which was published way back last year before dot-com turned to dot-bomb. - JR

Gill, Tony. "3D Culture on the Web" RLG DigiNews 5(3) (June 15, 2001) (http://www.rlg.org/preserv/diginews/diginews5-3.html). - Gill reminds us that the two-dimensional web is missing an important dimension. Particularly important for cultural information, the third dimension presents particular problems for depicting in a two-dimensional space. Gill reviews the ongoing standards efforts as well as existing applications for depicting and interacting with three-dimensional representations of landscapes or objects. Although we still seem to be some distance from achieving a robust, standard markup language for three-dimensional information (with the best hope being the XML-based X3D specification), at least you can experience 3-D objects on the web through using such plug-ins as Apple Computer's QuickTime Virtual Reality (QuickTimeVR), which is available for both MS Windows and the Mac. - RT

Guglielmo, Connie. "Microsoft Tries to Get Smart" ZDnet Interactive iWeek (June 11, 2001) (http://www.zdnet.com/intweek/stories/columns/0,4164,2772297,00.html). - Yuks of the month award goes to this delightful piece written in response to the controversy over Microsoft's proposed "Smart Tags". "Smart Tags" are 3rd party links to services, many of them commercial, which the next iteration of the Microsoft browser will automatically add to a Web page prior to display. The Guglielmo piece looks at the editorial implications of this in an especially well-crafted and understated way. - LRK

Hiltzik, Michael A. "Birth of a Thinking Machine" The Los Angeles Times (June 21, 2001) (http://www.latimes.com/business/cutting/lat_cyc010621.htm). - With the imminent release of Steven Spielberg's movie A.I. (artificial intelligence), this article describes a real A.I. project. For 17 years a team of scientists has been laboring to "teach" a computer (nick-named "Cyc" for "encyclopedia") everything it might need to know to think for itself. The "knowledge base" has grown to over 1.4 million assertions, "hundreds of thousands of root words, names, descriptions, abstract concepts, and a method of making inferences that allows the system to understand that, for example, a piece of wood can be smashed into smaller pieces of wood, but a table can't be smashed into a pile of smaller tables." That's small comfort to those of us who remember all too well the fictional computer "HAL" from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Although Cyc is still likely years from being used in practical applications, a small portion of the Cyc knowledge base is scheduled to be released to the public this summer under the name OpenCyc by Cycorp, Cyc's inevitable corporate parent. - RT

Kennedy, Shirley Duglin. "Web Design That Won't Get You Into Trouble" Computers in Libraries 21 (6), June 2001. http://www.infotoday.com/cilmag/jun01/kennedy.htm). - Ms. Kennedy has written a lively, thorough and thought provoking article about the many ways web designers can unwittingly break the law. The article could easily have been subtitled "Copyright, how do I infringe thee, let me count the ways" (my apologies to R.B.). The author lists the five rights granted by the Act to holders of copyright, Against this list, she demonstrates how seemingly innocent acts such as linking to a graphic on another's site may infringe copyright. Best to contact the owner, and ask for permission before going ahead. Further examples include creating a webpage of links to only selected portions of a website, and deep linking. The latter refers to bypassing the home page, and linking further into the website. Often home pages contain advertising, thus avoiding these may mean lost revenue for the website's owner. Further in the article, Ms Kennedy examines first amendment issues. Throughout the article there are numerous URLs presented, including a sidebar where all URLs in the article are compiled and annotated. - MG

Lynch, Clifford. "The Battle to Define the Future of the Book in the Digital World" First Monday 6(6) (June 4, 2001) (http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue6_6/lynch/). - This sprawling article lays out all of the issues driving the e-book development process, complete with a lively and entertaining panoply of the qualities one always associates with Clifford Lynch: humor, laconic delivery, far-reaching conclusions, piercing questions, and an intellect that cuts to the chase like a stiletto. Look no further for a lucid analysis of e-book readers versus software, licensing to consumers versus libraries, the role of libraries and their confusion with e-books, the successes of libraries with electronic media versus the lost opportunities, and so on. Lynch has always been a leader of the pack in assessing the human impact of technology without sacrificing a rigorous review of the technology. In short, this article is required reading for anyone interested in e-books. The section on libraries and e-books is a true gem - TH

Powell, Andy. "OpenResolver: A Simple OpenURL Resolver" Ariadne Issue 28 (June 2001) (http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue28/resolver/). - OpenURL is a standard way to encode links for bibliographic resources that enables richer linking services than is normally possible. It is designed to solve one problem (the issue of sending the user to the copy of an item you've licensed rather than to one you have not, also called the "appropriate copy" problem) and provide opportunities for adding other linking services (such as looking up other articles by the same author). You'll need to read the piece to get the explanation of what it does and how it works. The online demonstration, however, is where you're more likely to "get it", so be sure to try it out. Kudos to Powell for writing a clear explanation of OpenURL and particularly for setting up such a great demonstration of how OpenURL works. - RT

Reich, Vicky and David S.H. Rosenthal. "LOCKSS: A Permanent Web Publishing and Access System" D-Lib Magazine 7(6) (June 2001) (http://www.dlib.org/dlib/june01/reich/06reich.html). - It's all too easy to scoff at a digital preservation system named "Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe" (LOCKSS), but one would do best to keep scoffing at a minimum until reading this article. LOCKSS is a project spearheaded by Stanford to provide a method for libraries to preserve an electronic journal by capturing and storing the bits in a redundant and automatically reparable network cache. The system is currently in a beta test with servers around the globe. But do not assume that by storing the bits LOCKSS solves the digital preservation issue. LOCKSS solves only the most tractable part of the digital preservation problem — keeping the bits around. Left for others to solve is the much more difficult problem of what to do when the format the information is in goes kaput (can anyone still open a WordStar file?). - RT

Schaffner, Bradley L. "Electronic Resources: A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing?" College & Research Libraries 62 (3) (May 2001): 239-249. - Schaffner's thesis statement on e-resources in libraries: electronic resources should complement rather than replace other formats. While he acknowledges the many advantages of electronic resources (full-text searchability, remote accessibility, etc.), he cautions that there are also many misconceptions about e-resources (that everything is available online, that they are cheaper and that they are can be more efficiently administered). These misconceptions mean that politicians and administrators (the ones who ultimately control libraries' purse strings) are eager to prioritize funding for virtual libraries over the budgetary needs of traditional library collections and staffing. The article also discusses the impact of electronic resources on research and includes the obligatory librarian's lament about the inability of many researches to effectively evaluate the resources they find on the Web. - MP

Specter, Michael. "The Doomsday Click" The New Yorker (May 28, 2001):101-107 (http://www.michaelspecter.com/ny/2001/2001_05_28_doomsday.html) - It's true what they say about The New Yorker: it's not as serious as it used to be, Condé Nast is refashioning it (emphasis on fashion) into a "lifestyle" publication, and in the national market for mass media it's the publicist's friend. But interesting info tech articles will show up in the darndest places. The title of this one and the accompanying illustration are certainly alarmist enough to cause some doubts, but the author has some good stories to tell about his experience as a 'bug collector' with most of the major worms and viruses archived on his hard drives. He relates his encounters with people such as Peter G. Neumann who are certain that a catastrophic net attack could happen any time, and describes his hands-on sessions with hackers in Amsterdam. In that last tale, the eye-opener for the general reader and maybe for some systems veterans, too, is the ease with which malicious code can be launched. "Skriptkiddies" or anyone else for that matter can send a virus down the pipes by simply following a recipe or filling out an online form. If you have the computer skills to order a t-shirt from J.Crew, then you also have the skills to cause some serious trouble. The article is part of the "Digital Age" issue. Please, I beg of you, take a look at the piece about the ubiquity of PowerPoint, in which some of the repercussions of overuse are revealed. For example, one mom's decision to include a PowerPoint presentation in a family meeting about household chores didn't go over too well with the kids. - JR

Tognazzini, Bruce. "How to Deliver a Report Without Getting Lynched" AskTog (May 2001) (http://www.asktog.com/columns/047HowToWriteAReport.html). - Not getting lynched is probably high on most people's agenda. It's particularly high for those of us active in technical areas where reputations for articulate self-expression and sensitivity are not always the best. Here then in this short piece, interface veteran Bruce Tognazzini — Tog — reminds us that we'll sooner win people over with a spoonful of sugar than with a jigger of vinegar. The interchange between readers and Tognazzini following the piece is also worth looking at — particularly where Tognazzini is reminded that he isn't always so diplomatic himself. - LRK


Current Cites 12(6) (June 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/2001/cc01.12.6.html by Roy Tennant.
Last update July 6, 2001. SunSITE Manager: manager@sunsite.berkeley.edu