Current Cites (Digital Library SunSITE)

Volume 12, no. 9, September 2001

Edited by Roy Tennant

The Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720
ISSN: 1060-2356 - http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CurrentCites/2001/cc01.12.9.html

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

Attributes of a Trusted Digital Repository: Meeting the Needs of Research Resources Mountain View, CA: Research Libraries Group, August 2001: 52p (http://www.rlg.org/longterm/attributes01.pdf). - Building on the foundation of the seminal report Preserving Digital Information: Report of the Task Force on Archiving of Digital Information, this paper seeks to define trusted digital repositories, identify their primary attributes, devise a framework for certifying repositories as trustworthy, identify the responsibilities of an archive compliant with the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) reference model, and make recommendations for further work in this area. If this sounds like a daunting task, that's because it is. But the blue-ribbon group that wrote this paper is up to the challenge. The paper lays out the following attributes of a trusted digital repository: administrative responsibility, organizational viability, financial sustainability, technological suitability, system security, and procedural accountability. In each of these areas specific traits are identified that should be present in a trusted repository. The paper also discusses types of certification and processes by which certification may be revoked. This is a policy document, not a technical explication, and therefore a discussion of the OAIS reference model can be found in an appendix, as can a glossary of terms. This document is an important next step down the road leading to an effective digital preservation strategy. - RT

Bonett, Monica "Personalization of Web Services: Opportunities and Challenges" Ariadne Issue 28 (2001) (http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue28/personalization/). - In the last decade, we have witnessed the evolution of the World Wide Web, leading us from static pages, to interactive pages offering search and retrieval capabilities. The next level, to further engage the user, is that of customization and personalization. This article organized in four parts, begins by posing the question "Will personalised service become part of users' standard definition of good service?" To provide some answers, the author defines personalized service, drawing the distinction between personalization and customization.  The latter is primarily user driven. This means that the user actively configures his web interface, creates a profile, and explicitly controls the content received. Conversely, personalization does not actively solicit user input. The user remains passive. Rather, the web content reacts to the known behaviour of the user or of a like-minded user group. Preferences are monitored, gauged, analyzed. These findings then result in catered content without active user contribution. Examples of customized content are My Yahoo, and television listing services offering what the user has requested. Personalization features are exemplified by Staples and Amazon. Section 2 examines the enabling technologies of customization and personalization. These include "fill-in profiles", "click-stream analysis" or web usage mining systems, collaborative filtering and cookies. Examples from the educational sector, most notably MyLibrary at North Carolina State University Libraries are offered in the third section. The last section looks at challenges in establishing user needs, usability, i.e. good web design practices, ethics and privacy, building relationships and measuring success. The article concludes with a webliography of cited sites. For those of us involved in website management, this is a comprehensive treatment of both the potential and the caveats of tailoring sites to individual requirements. - MG

Bruno, Lee "Assessing the Net's Structural Integrity" Red Herring (September 5, 2001) (http://www.redherring.com/index.asp?layout=special_report_gen&doc_id=960020 096). - Though the Internet has grown exponentially over the past decade, it is still in a relatively early phase of its own evolution. Inevitably, new hardware and software upgrades to the Internet backbone will be ongoing over the next several years. However the listless economy almost certainly means less spending by network carriers. What spending there is will likely be centered on optical components that are compatible with "the ubiquitous ethernet standard." The package of stories in this special report examines the popularity of ethernet, the new IPv6 protocol that will succeed TCI/IP (now 20 years old!), and the Internet's huge core routers — "the equivalent of post office mail-sorting centers" — that move zillions of bits of data around the world 24/7. Also included are some brief profiles of key companies and related "whispers" from the venture capital community. - SK

Doctorow, Cory. "Metacrap: Putting the Torch to Seven Straw-Men of the Meta-Utopia". (Version 1.3) (August 26, 2001) (http://www.well.com/~doctorow/metacrap.htm) - 'Why Johnny Can't Catalog' might be a more appropriate title for this strongly argued yet brief piece. Doctorow casts doubt on the ability (or even willingness of Joe Six-Pack content-creator to properly and honestly identify his online material. Librarians will be familiar with many of the author's complaints. - LRK

Eick, Stephen G. "Visualizing Online Activity" Communications of the ACM 44(8) (August 2001) pp. 45-50. - Graphic representations of Web site structure and traffic can be useful when the site is quite complex, and/or there is a large amount of usage data gathered - which often go hand in hand. The author, CTO of a business which sells information visualization tools, examines problems that can be solved this way and the types of software (his own and others) that can do the job. He focuses on three such applications of visual aids: for users navigating a site, for site managers tracking user paths and flows, and for monitoring real-time site activity. He describes variations on the standard tree scheme such as hyperbolic trees, and other methods like 3D landscape representations, weaving in relevant consideration of things like scalability, user manipulability and screen display limitations. - JR

Ellison, Craig "Exploiting and Protecting 802.11b Wireless Networks" ExtremeTech (September 4, 2001) (http://www.extremetech.com/article/0,3396,s%253D1024%2526a%253D13880,00.asp ). - That new wireless LAN in your building is just the coolest thing, is it not? Unfortunately, many wireless networks that use the IEEE 802.11b standard are as leaky as decrepit old rowboats. The boom in 802.11b networks is largely due to WECA, the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance, which developed an interoperability standard called WI-FI (wireless fidelity). In order for a vendor's wireless networking products to sport the WI-FI logo, these items must pass some basic interoperability tests. While this has had the effect of making wireless networks easy to install and use, security issues have been pretty much ignored. In this article, a team of "war drivers" goes cruising around Manhattan, Jersey City and Silicon Valley using a laptop, a wireless LAN card, antennas and a "sniffer" program called NetStumbler. They discover firsthand — by tapping in — just how many insecure wireless networks are out there. Fortunately, the article provides advice and links to more information about protecting and securing those leaky 802.11b networks. If you're even marginally responsible for one of these things, this article is a must-read. - SK

Foster, Andrea L. "Libraries Criticize Federal Report on Digital-Copyright Law." The Chronicle of Higher Education 48(3) (September 14, 2001): A39. - A US Coypright Office report (http://www.loc.gov/copyright/reports/studies/dmca/dmca_study.html) on the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act has come under fire by library advocates including the American Library Association. Congress required the Copyright Office to issue the report so that they as lawmakers can decide if there are flaws in the digital copyright law that need fixing. Critics argue that the report should have provided greater assurances to libraries and consumers on the rights to lend and archive digital materials. - MP

Harmon, Amy. "Exploration of World Wide Web Tilts From Eclectic to Mundane". New York Times (August 26, 2001) (http://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/26/technology/26ONLI.html). - The author explores a number of interesting issues all tied around the apparent phenomenon that people are visiting fewer sites nowadays. A typical user "knows what he wants and he mostly knows where to get it." This leads to a consolidation of sites garnering most of the traffic and, ultimately, to a less culturally diversified web. Does this point to the end of web surfing as we know it? The jury, thankfully, is still out. - LRK

Jewell, Timothy D. Selection and Presentation of Commercially Available Electronic Resources: Issues and Practices. Washington, DC: Digital Library Federation, Council on Library and Information Resources, 2001. ISBN 1-887334-84-X. (http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub99/pub99.pdf). - With a focus on the practices of Digital Library Federation members, Timothy Jewell investigates how research libraries select, finance, license, provide access to, support, and track the use of commercial electronic resources. Special attention is paid to consortial purchasing arrangements and emerging systems for managing electronic resources (Appendix B provides details about the functions and data elements of existing or planned systems at selected libraries). Suggested electronic resources practices are identified in the conclusion. Appendix A provides links to relevant supporting documents and Web pages for the major sections of the report. - CB

Lewis, Geoff. "Metaphorical Mayhem" Brill's Content (Fall 2001) pp. 65-69. - Are you, too, responsible for the dotcom collapse? The author, tongue in cheek, takes responsibility because (like so many of us who've written about the Internet) he chose metaphors which quickly acquired verisimilitude and helped raise expectations beyond any reasonable level. Business writer Lewis confesses that, in his efforts to clarify a complex situation, he relied upon certain catchphrases which you just might recognize. He neatly includes four such gems in one sentence: "In the Internet 'gold rush,' a company had to move at 'Internet speed' to secure 'first-mover advantage' in its corner of the 'new economy.'" This is a rueful lesson in how "years of hyperbolic one-upmanship" encouraged the kind of wishful thinking that left common sense behind in the dust of the old new fronti — oh, sorry. - JR

Lynch, Clifford A. "Metadata Harvesting and the Open Archives Initiative" ARL Bimonthly Report 217 (August 2001) (http://www.arl.org/newsltr/217/mhp.html). - We have reported on the Open Archives Initiative in previous issues of Current Cites. In this piece, Lynch focuses on the OAI mechanism for harvesting metadata from OAI-compliant archives to create centralized search services, the Open Archives Metadata Harvesting Protocol. His overview is purposefully non-technical, since those wishing more technical information can find such on the Open Archives web site. Rather, Lynch provides an excellent and thorough high-level view of how it came about, how it operates, possible uses of it, remaining issues, and future directions. Thankfully this article is freely available online, since many more people than would normally read the ARL Bimonthly Report should read this very informative piece on a new technology that is like to be very useful to a large variety of digital library services. - RT

Manuel, Kate. "Teaching an Online Information Literacy Course." Reference Services Review 29(3) (2001): 219-228. - Honest appraisal of a distance education initiative that didn't live up to expectations. The experiment here was teaching information literacy at CSU Hayward to a class of 13 distance learners, only two of whom eventually finished on time. The author doesn't flinch from cataloging a whole slew of problems. These range from difficulties that students had with the medium to questions of whether the medium itself was appropriate given the student demographic and subject. The author concludes that at least in this instance, "the medium interfered with the message". - LRK

Peterson, Karrie, Elizabeth Cowell, and Jim Jacobs. "Government Documents at the Crossroads" American Libraries 32(8) (September 2001): 52-55. - Peterson, et.al. sound a warning that the massive move by the U.S. government from the distribution of print documents to electronic publication carries with it serious dangers. In the past, the federal government distributed paper copies of government publication to 1,350 libraries for free. But the Government Printing Office recently decided to save money by stopping the print distribution of most government documents in favor of electronic publication on the web. Although there are benefits to such a move, the authors point out problems as well, among them: when government servers go down, the documents are completely inaccessible; when the government controls the only authentic copy of a document, there is nothing to prevent tampering with it; and who will enforce the preservation of documents an agency decides to remove from its web site? Underlying these issues is an even more important one — we are moving from a society that has possession and control over government information to one in which the government solely controls it. Is this in the best long-term interests of a free and democratic society? Although Peterson, et.al. argue persuasively that librarians must be involved in helping to shape federal policy on the publication and distribution of government information, they unfortunately do not suggest a specific solution. I would have found it instructive, for example, to know what problems prevent libraries from offering to support an electronic depository program, wherein electronic copies of government documents are deposited with numerous libraries upon publication, as they were in the print program. - RT

Pitschmann, Louis A. Building Sustainable Collections of Free Third-Party Web Resources Washington, DC: Digital Library Federation, Council on Library and Information Resources, June 2001, 44p. ISBN 1-887334-83-1 (http://www.clir.org/pubs/abstract/pub98abst.html). - As Pitschmann states in the introduction, "the purpose of this report is to identify and synthesize existing practices used in developing collections of free third-party Internet resources that support higher education and research." And an admirable job of it he does. He covers identification, evaluation, selection, access, management, multilinguality, user support, organizational, and financial issues. After several years of creating subject gateways to Internet resources, various projects have gained sufficient experience that this synthesis from the DLF and CLIR is both welcome and timely. - RT


Current Cites 12(9) (September 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/cc01.12.9.html by Roy Tennant.
Last update September 21, 2001. SunSITE Manager: manager@sunsite.berkeley.edu