Current Cites (Digital Library SunSITE)

Volume 12, no. 7, July 2001

Edited by Roy Tennant

The Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720
ISSN: 1060-2356 - http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CurrentCites/2001/cc01.12.7.html

Contributors: Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Margaret Gross, Terry Huwe, Shirl Kennedy, Leo Robert Klein, Margaret Phillips, Jim Ronningen

Allen, Maryellen M. "Bluetooth Bites Information Retrieval Online 25(3) (May 2001) (http://www.onlineinc.com/onlinemag/OL2001/allen5_01.html). - Futurists and sci-fi buffs have long envisaged a world of wireless communication through a small portable device, be it a watch or gadget loaded special eyewear. A new enabling technology standard which has the potential to make this vision a reality is Bluetooth. Maryellen Mott Allen's article is an excellent introduction to both the underlying technology, and and its applications for libraries and librarians. She begins the article by citing market studies which demonstrate an exploding market for Bluetooth enabled devices. Tracing the history and technological construct of Bluetooth in layman's language, she kindles the reader's curiosity for further investigation. To this end it is best to start at the Official Bluetooth SiG website (http://www.bluetooth.com). Named after Harald Bluetooth, the son of Denmark's first king, Bluetooth is an open data transmission standard developed by Ericsson. A who's who of hi-tech companies, such as Microsoft, Intel, Nokia, Toshiba, etc. now form the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, which is committed to developing low power, high speed, short range devices compatible with the Bluetooth data transfer standard. The benefits of interactive wireless are boundless. Imagine connecting to remote database servers, accessing information resources on various platforms, creating ad hoc working groups where data is instantly shared, anywhere and everywhere. There are, however, problems which have to be addressed. These include security issues, and device incompatibility from competing technologies such as the one defined in IEEE 802.11b. The communications revolutions continues — stay tuned. - MG

Carlson, Scott. "JSTOR's Journal-Archiving Service Makes Fans of Librarians and Scholars" Chronicle of Higher Education 47(46) (July 27, 2001): A26-A28 (http://www.chronicle.com/free/v47/i46/46a02601.htm). - This overview of JSTOR, the non-profit digital archiving project, could almost have been written by the project's own PR department. It seems there's not much bad you can say about an organization whose mission is to "preserve and maintain journal literature, and to make that material more accessible" and who — in this time of dot.com excess and greed — are not only turning a blind eye to profit but have even offered rebates to early subscribers who bought into JSTOR when the costs were higher. Criticisms of JSTOR — that smaller institutions can't afford to subscribe and that building a digital archive only encourages libraries to trash their print back runs — do not, in this citer's opinion, hold up against the advantages. Think about it: you can search the full-text of an entire run of an important scholarly journal from home. Besides, how many organizations do you know that can gain the respect of both librarians and publishers? - MP

Case, Mary M. "Public access to scientific information: Are 22,700 scientists wrong?" C&RL News 62(7) (July/August 2001): 706-709,716. (http://www.ala.org/acrl/case.html) - Close to twenty-three thousand and counting -- that's the number of scientists who've signed the open letter available at the Public Library of Science site pledging to only publish in journals that make the articles freely available to the public six months after their initial publication. When Current Cites last reported on this in April 2001, the number of scientists who had signed was 15,000. In this article by Mary M. Case, we are given some more background information on the initiative as well as suggestions for how librarians can do their bit. - LRK

Free Online Scholarship Newsletter (http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/). - Peter Suber, chair of the Philosophy Department at Earlham College, established the electronic Free Online Scholarship Newsletter in March of this year. This newsletter, which is distributed via a Topica mailing list, is an excellent way to stay informed about current scholarly electronic publishing developments. Suber makes no bones about his position in the ongoing debate about the economics of scholarly electronic publishing: he wants it to be subsidized and free to users. He also wants it to be uncensored. Even if you don't agree with these positions, you are likely to find the newsletter to be a valuable, if provocative, source of information. If you don't want to subscribe to the mailing list, read the Web-based issue archive periodically. There is also a discussion forum. And, of course, it's all free.- CB

Galbi, Douglas A. "Some Economics of Personal Activity and Implications for the Digital Economy" First Monday 6(7) (July 2, 2001) (http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue6_7/galbi/). - The author places the "buzz" about the "attention economy" in a very useful historical context. He charts economic study of personal attention to media from 1925 to the present, assessing user behavior long before anyone every heard of the Web. However, some important historical facts from this longer period emerge. First, increases in personal time spent with media follow increases in total personal discretionary time. Second, the share of advertising spending in total economic output is more or less constant. Third, advertising spending per person-hour spent with media has also been roughly constant. The upshot, Galbi argues, is that the traditional approach of buying personal attention through media advertising will not support the extremely rapid growth of the digital economy. Instead, the growth of the digital economy is more likely to be driven by the growth of discretionary time and integration of digital technology into new forms of socializing. - TH

Holden, Stephen H., ed. "A Symposium on International Applications of Electronic Government (E-Government): Research, Practice and Issues" Government Information Quarterly 18(2) (2001). - The editor of this symposium issue thinks that 'e-government' might be the management reform buzzword of the new century. There's certainly a lot of pressure to achieve, or at least be perceived as achieving, this type of governmental weight-loss; public opinion has the 'e' standing for 'efficient' and just wants to see the bloat reduced. The articles here are a smorgasbord of ways to think about, implement, and last but not least, watchdog e-government projects. The availability of online state legislative information is analyzed in an article that assesses progress in access, usability and search features. Canadian efforts are described in a report that focuses on the difficulty of changing administrative culture (and gives us the "International" in the title — otherwise, the focus is pretty domestic). The US Dept. of Energy's Office of Scientific and Technological Information has, not unexpectedly, been a leader in the electronic dissemination of research results; their successes are related in a study that quantifies the activity around their primary website. On a more theoretical level, there's an article laying out a four-stage model for e-gov projects which can effectively 'cut across the silos' of vertically arranged information repositories. Finally, there's a critique of the study by the US National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, "A Comprehensive Assessment of Public Information Dissemination: Final Report, Vol. 1" which finds that its recommendations could perpetuate technologically obsolete mechanisms, and provide no reasonable model for electronic archives. - JR

James, Michael S. "Fading Bits of History" ABCNews.com (July 9, 2001) (http://abcnews.go.com/sections/scitech/DailyNews/preservation010708.html) - Too many people believe that backing their electronic data up to tape, CDs, etc. is a safe way of preserving it for the long haul. Alas, these media seem to deteriorate even faster than paper, and data stored on them "requires frequent conversion from old storage media, like computer disks and magnetic tapes, to newer ones." The author talks to Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org/) and some other digital preservation experts such as Ken Thibodeau, director of the electronic records archives program at the National Archive (http://www.nara.gov/). Article includes links to related stories and more detailed information. - SK

Koerner, Brendan L. "Click Here for Britney" Washington Monthly (July/August 2001) (http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2001/0107.koerner.html). - This article explores the dark side of "AOL's evolution into one of America's most popular news outlets." Substantive objective journalism providing coverage of hard news and public affairs is scarce, despite the fact that AOL now has any number of Time, Inc.'s impressive stable of magazines from which to pull content. Alas, pandering to the lowest common denominator attracts more eyeballs and advertising dollars. The author is especially pessimistic about what will happen as AOL extends its brand into interactive and cable television. - SK

Latham, Joyce M. "Positioning the Public Library in the Modern State: The Opportunity of the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA)" First Monday 6(7) (July 2, 2001) (http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue6_7/latham/). - The author argues that the public library in the United States today is an essential avenue for the development of debate on the entire range of topics that face the society: political, social, economic, and recreational. She explores the ramifications and impact of the controversy over the Children's Internet Protection Act, on the library in general, and on the relationship between patron and librarian. She argues that in order to fulfill its role the public library must be immune to the imposition of any particular orthodoxy of belief. The Children's Internet Protection Act is the most concrete challenge to the library as a marketplace for ideas and the primacy of the citizen's right to research, and offers the profession a new opportunity to redefine itself as a guardian of the public good that stands above orthodoxy. - TH

Pogue, David. "A Final Internet Freebie on the Phone" New York Times (July 12, 2001) (http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/12/technology/circuits/12STAT.html). - Among the fallout from the great dot-com debacle is that many useful free services have dried up and blown away. Oddly enough, freebie voice portals seem to be thriving. If you're on the road or otherwise away from a computer, you can dial up a popular portal — MSN, Yahoo!, etc. — and get your news, sports scores, stock quotes, soap opera updates, whatever. Even more useful, travelers can obtain up-to-the-minute airline arrival and departure information, traffic reports, and driving directions. Some of these portals will even read your e-mail to you. SK

Rhodes, John S. "The Usability of usability : an interview with Jared Spool, Founding Principal of User Interface Engineering" WebWord.com (July 25, 2001) (http://webword.com/interviews/spool2.html). - The state of usability by one of its foremost practitioners is what we're served up in this interview with Jared Spool, author of the classic "Web Site Usability : A Designer's Guide." Spool sees a welcomed shift in emphasis in this field from "preachers of a religion of sorts" to "researchers of best practices". He also points out that usable sites depend not so much on having a stable of usability experts on hand but rather on developing a "culture" of usability in-house. The results of his research — much of it concerning e-commerce — can apply, he feels, to "non e-commerce sites" as well. - LRK

Smith, Suzanna et. al. "GNOME Usability Study Report" Sun GNOME Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Sun Microsystems, Inc. (July 2001) (http://developer.gnome.org/projects/gup/ut1_report/report_main.html). - Even if you've never heard of GNOME — the open-source effort to provide a user-friendly interface for Linux — you might be interested in this study conducted by the usability team over at Sun Microsystems (http://www.sun.com/usability/). It goes over the kind of problems users ran into while trying to solve various "tasks". In turn, the study offers solutions — some of which you may agree with or not. Graphics clearly show the state of the interface now and how suggested improvements can be made. Independent of the subject matter then, this is a clear and instructive example of usability in action. - LRK

Spink, Amanda, and Gunar, Okan. "E-commerce web queries: Excite and Ask Jeeves Study" First Monday 6(7) (July 2, 2001) (http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue6_7/spink/). - The authors report on a study of business related queries submitted to the Excite and Ask Jeeves Web search services. They sampled a log of 10,000 Excite queries and 10,000 Ask Jeeves question format queries, and make a few conclusions about the oh-so-organic process of research. First, business queries often include more search terms, lead to fewer Web pages viewed, and include fewer advanced search features than non-business queries. Second, company or product queries were the most common form of business query; and third, Ask Jeeves business queries in question form were largely limited to the format "Where can I buy..." or the request "I want to buy ...". Librarians will be shocked to find out that business terminology and the open Web are not standardized and make the process very difficult for the average user. Maybe that's not news to many of us, but it supports the case for better analysis tools that can track the formulation of questions. Interesting tabulations of search strategies are another highlight to be found here. - TH

Sullivan, Danny "Search Engines and Legal Issues" SearchEngineWatch.com (July 2, 2001) (http://searchenginewatch.com/resources/legal.html#Crawling%20And%20Linking). - If you're a webmaster, it's a scary world out there. Lawyers, apparently, are lurking in every corner of cyberspace. Sullivan keeps an ongoing annotated collection of links to articles about various search engine-related lawsuits in a number of categories: advertising, crawling and linking, domain names, government regulation, labor, meta tags, meta search, multimedia search, pagejacking, patents, privacy and user information and trademarks. Read 'em and weep. - SK

Tweney, Dylan. "Slim Down That Home Page" Business 2.0 (July 13, 2001) (http://www.business2.com/articles/web/0,1653,16483,FF.html) - While it's not news to most information professionals, Tweney maintains that "too many sites are weighted down by graphics and Flash animations." He gives some examples of "good" and "bad" pages, and includes Jupiter Media Matrix's recommendation that Web pages should "weigh" no more than 40 or 50 KB. These will take 8-10 seconds to download over a typical 56K connection — "about the limit of most people's patience." He also reminds Web page designers than an increasing number of people are accessing sites via very slow wireless connections on devices with small screens. - SK

White, Martin. "Behind the Firewall: A Case for Formal Intranet Leadership" Econtent 24(5) (July 2001). - Martin White, managing director of a U.K. intranet consulting company makes a compelling case for sophisticated expertise in the management of intranets. Oh the plight of the intranet webmaster, isolated behind corporate firewalls! There is little or no chance to glean tips and tricks from competitor or client intranet sites. This is in marked contrast to the internet webmaster who can surf the web for ideas. Often managing an intranet is a peripheral task for already preoccupied librarians and information specialists. Furthermore, usually there is no budget for intranet activity. Mr. White envisages the intranet webmaster as a vice president/director of intranet operations. The required skills are a complex  mix of information technology savvy, knowledge of web design principles, excellent communication skills, the ability to build teams, and what could be called "information content architecture." As intranets are becoming the primary corporate tool for information transfer and sharing, certainly recognition of the intranet webmaster, appropriate funding, and higher visibility are a must. - MG


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/2001/cc01.12.7.html by Roy Tennant.
Last update July 30, 2001. SunSITE Manager: manager@sunsite.berkeley.edu