Current Cites (Digital Library SunSITE)

Volume 12, no. 8, August 2001

Edited by Roy Tennant

The Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720
ISSN: 1060-2356 -

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

Adra, Eytan, and Huberman, Bernardo A. "A Market for Secrets." First Monday 6(8) (August 6, 2001) ( - The authors describe a new kind of electronic system for private data that guarantees levels of privacy, anonymity and control for individuals. The unique element in their strategy is a means of maintaining privacy while introducing the capability for commercial groups to mine information and automatically pay individuals for their data. The idea depends on a novel procedure that enables data miners to contact the data owners anonymously. The technological platform is another bold attempt to create market mechanisms for consumer data while guaranteeing acceptable levels of privacy. - TH

Bryar, J.V. (Jack) Taxonomies: the Value of Organized Business Knowledge ( This document is a white paper prepared for NewsEdge Corporation, an information provider based in Burlington,MD. Recently NewsEdge has been acquired by The Thomson Corporation. Taxonomies is a document developed as a commercial pitch for Newsedge products. The reader must look beyond the intent, and view the essay in the broader context of knowledge management schemes. Mr. Bryar has produced a clear and logical exposition. He presents several rules and key concepts for managing a large body of information. The document covers the use of thesauri, subject headings to facilitate information navigation and retrieval. There is one important difference, however, Mr. Bryar employs current information technology language to expound these fundamental themes. His first tenet, given the diversity of electronic document formats, is a compelling case for a common wrapper using meaningful tags. All indicators point to the use of the XML meta language. However, the application of XML does not resolve the problem of meaningful retrieval. Its use would result in a standardized presentation of documents, but still retrieval chaos. In order to facilitate information retrieval, and at the same time guarantee the pertinence of the yield, XML must be coupled with a meaningful taxonomy, based on the hierarchical arrangement of subject groupings. Within the subject groupings the researcher must be able to broaden or narrow the search, as well as find related lateral topics. The arrangement of subject hierarchies must be logical, consistent, and expansible. As most documents can be classified within more than one category, the topological arrangement should be internally consistent. Each broad category must be similarly subdivided using a standard schema. Searchers can anticipate the arrangement, navigate easily, and thereby retrieve relevant data. Additionally, a subject relevancy percentage or weighted system is highly effective. In summary, this white paper is an excellent recap of library science fundamentals, presented in the language of the new technology for today's information professional. - MG

Calabia, Hector "New Virus Developed That Spreads Using Acrobat Files" Computerworld (August 8, 2001) (,1199,NAV47_STO62902,00.html). - Who'd have thunk it? Researchers have discovered a worm that infects PDF files — "a format considered safe up to now." Yikes! Lurking as a player in this scenario is the usual suspect, Microsoft Outlook. The researchers say the worm uses Outlook to send itself hidden in a PDF file. When the recipient opens the file using Acrobat Reader, a game is launched that encourages the recipient to click on a picture of a peach. When he or she does so, a Visual Basic script fires off, activating the virus. Although the virus has not yet made it out of the laboratory in which it was created, it could be a harbinger of something really ugly, given the widespread popularity of Acrobat. - SK

Caplan, Priscilla. "Reference Linking for Journal Articles: Promise, Progress and Perils." portal: Libraries and the Academy 1 (3) (2001): 351-356. - Constantly changing URLs don't scale up well for article reference linking purposes in today's complex electronic publishing environment. To deal with this problem, publishers have adopted DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers) as stable article identifiers. To help publishers locate DOIs for articles in journals published by other companies, CrossRef was established to allow for DOI retrieval based on metadata, such as author name. However, a major issue remains for libraries: once the DOI is known, how can the user be routed to an accessible copy of the article given licensing restrictions? Caplan clearly explains these "localization" issues and the roles that OpenURL and SFX could play in their potential resolution. - CB

Crawford, Walt. "MP3 Audiobooks: A New Library Medium?" American Libraries (August 2001): 64-66. - In his typically technically accurate and thorough yet readable style, Crawford highlights a new technology that may turn out to be the best thing to hit audio books since the cassette tape. While many of us have heard of (or even used) MP3 files, they may be connected in our brain with Napster and other applications for swapping and playing music. Crawford makes us break that connection and consider the very real possibility (opportunity) that the MP3 format may be useful for audio books as well. It isn't completely smooth sailing, however, since there are technical issues that remain to be resolved — one of them being the ability to stop a book and return to that location again ("bookmarking"). But should those issues be resolved, and the use of the format grows, Crawford thinks it is a promising new medium for libraries. - RT

Engle, Randall. "The Neo Sophists: Intellectual Integrity in the Information Age." First Monday 6(8) (August 6, 2001) ( - The author presents a lengthy history of sophistry to make several points about "mythmaking" and the Internet. This leads up to his central premise, which is that today's spinmeisters from both industry and cultural studies are engaged in a new and improved form of sophistry which is blurring the lines between market-driven ideologies and objective perceptions of technology and society. This article is generally interesting for its broad-based analysis, but it's also helpful because it explores the tension between commercial mindsets and pure academic research. - TH

Fraser, Janice Crotty. "Registration Revamp". WebTechniques (Sept. 2001). ( - So much of web development is a balancing act: Marketing wants this, Systems wants that. Libraries are no exception. Wading through the tangle of conflicting priorities at Netscape back in 1996 was designer Janice Crotty Fraser whose half-year-long struggle to make Netscape's registration process less of a headache for the user is here chronicled. - LRK

Lewis, Peter "OK, So You Need a Laptop" Business 2.0 (August 2001) (,1640,16716,FF.html). - Due to the stagnant economy, this is a really good time to buy any kind of computer. If you've got your eyes on a laptop, Lewis can help you choose one that is appropriate for you. The key question, he says, is "How much laptop do you really need?" Which, of course, depends on how you are going to use the machine. Do you need a full-blown desktop replacement or a light-as-a-feather portable that will not weigh you down as you dash between gates at the airport. How much of a factor is cost? Which accessories should you consider? Whatever your needs, Lewis encourages buying a machine with at least 128 megabytes of RAM and a 10 gigabyte hard drive. See which models he recommends and why. - SK

Lieberman, Henry, Christopher Fry and Louis Weitzman. "Exploring the Web with Reconnaisance Agents." Communications of the ACM 44(8) (Aug. 2001) : 69-75. - Intelligent Agents — can't live with them, can't live without them. That's the feeling the wary reader will probably come away with after going through this discussion of two approaches to finding relevant information on the Web. Finding this information, say the authors in this issue of CACM devoted to visualization, is a joint undertaking between human user and computer. Just how far the collaboration will go however, is open to question: Even at this early stage, where it works — as at Amazon where items are presented to the user based on prior likes/purchases — it's a useful tool. On the other hand, in an online world where — just to take one example — paid advertising masquerades as search results, purity of motives even for an automated agent can't be taken for granted. - LRK

McGillis, Louise and Elaine G. Toms. "Usability of the Academic Library Web Site: Implications for Design" College & Research Libraries 62(4) (July 2001):355-367. - How one can truly know the many ways in which all types of library users may fumble around with academic library websites is still elusive. In this case, the authors know what a small group of 33 participants did, but they were volunteers, had a familiarity with the library, and probably had some degree of interest in online access (as opposed to people who'd only use it kicking and screaming when there's no other alternative). They gained insight into their pool's reactions to particular problems many of us have wrestled with in designing sites: Where to start? How to avoid library jargon? Does the site uselessly mimic the library's bureaucracy or the patterns of the physical collection, when the more appropriate arrangement would be to place the online tasks to be accomplished first and foremost? The reactions of these particular testees, interesting as they are, represent just a subset of potential users, and we need to figure out how to hear from those who don't speak up. - JR

Nellhaus, Tobin. "XML, TEI, and Digital Libraries in the Humanities." portal: Libraries and the Academy 1 (3) (2001): 257-277. - DTD, EAD, RDF, SGML, TEI, XLink, XML, and XSL. If you are asking yourself what does this technical gobbledygook mean and why should I care, this article is for you. Using examples from theater and drama studies, Nellhaus provides a concise and lucid overview of these increasingly important topics that does not require the reader to be an expert in markup language esoterica. When you're done with the article, bake your own TEI DTD using The Pizza Chef: A TEI Tag Set Selector ( or go to one of the other recommended Web sites, such as (, to learn more. - CB

Nelson, Matthew G. "Wireless Goal: Don't Get Whacked" Information Week (July 9, 2001) ( -- "Whacking," we learn in this article, is the wireless equivalent of hacking — "usually done by a person who's in the right place at the right time with the right kind of radio transceiver." It's emerging as a large problem for IT security folks as wireless networks become the latest must-have enterprise technology. Although some people feel wireless networks are inherently less secure than their wired counterparts, locking down a wireless network isn't all that different than protecting wired ones. User authentication, data integrity and security to prevent data interception are the key concepts. - SK

Pfahl, Michael, "Giving Away Music to Make Money: Independent Musicians and the Internet." First Monday 6(8) (August 6, 2001) ( - Pfahl assesses the current state of Internet-based music and its impact on the full distribution chain from artist to consumer. Unlike many of the more prominent analyses of file-sharing programs that we've seen in recent months, he analyzes the production and distribution shifts from the perspective of independent musicians. No one has felt the impact of music on the Internet more than the independent musician, he argues, and the recording industry has dominated the production and distribution of music for many years. He proposes an alternative strategic plan for successful Internet commerce that would be based on artists giving away all of their music for free via the Internet. His plan sounds radical, and it is, and this reflects his understanding of the essentially subterranean relationship that thrives between a band and its fans, and how elusive this relationship remains for Music, Inc. - TH

Streitfeld, David. "E-books Solving a Problem Consumers Don't Have." Chicago Tribune (Aug. 9, 2001) ( . - Tittle-tattle courtesy of the Chicago Tribune on the woes of e-books as seen through the eyes of some unhappy authors. Includes the noble sentiment: "If it's going to be a failure, it might as well be a huge failure." - LRK

Current Cites 12(8) (August 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.
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Last update August 24, 2001. SunSITE Manager: