Current Cites (Digital Library SunSITE)

Volume 13, no. 1, January 2002

Edited by Roy Tennant

The Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720
ISSN: 1060-2356 - http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CurrentCites/2002/cc02.13.1.html

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

Anandarajan, Murugan, ed. "Internet Abuse in the Workplace" special section Communications of the ACM 45(1) (January 2002). - Information wants to be free, but time is money. Almost all executives believe that workplace Internet use should be monitored, but a much smaller percentage have actually put such programs in place so far. It's clear that this relatively new behavior is going to be more carefully controlled than it has been, and the articles in this special section can provide guidance in creating balanced use policies. The value of constructive browsing and play with new applications is examined, and statistics on employee learning curves, productivity and happiness are presented. Whether you're an employee wanting to act early to fend off a severe crackdown or a boss trying to define reasonable limits, there's help right here. - JR

Boeri, Robert J. "XML Across the Publishing Lifecycle: Tools & Strategies to Promote Success" EContent 24 (8) (October 2001) (http://www.econtentmag.net/Magazine/Features/boeri10_01.html). - This article is an excellent overview of what XML is, and reasons, considerations, and requirements to be analyzed before choosing to convert to XML. Released in early 1998, XML was touted as the standard to replace HTML. The presentation-only limitations of HTML were to be a thing of the past. Now, nearly four years later, why has the move to XML not happened, or at best, been extremely slow? Simply stated: because the authoring and content management tools have not been available. Two modelling tools now available, are: Altova's XML Spy, designed for the Windows operating system, and Tibco's Turbo XML, supporting multiple platforms. The author cautions against using hybrid tools such as Microsoft Word, or other word processing software. While initially more familiar to the novice, the embedded word processor styles may be very costly to convert when updating files later on. Recommended are systems that provide "workflow management, content assembly, and validity checking." The following systems are mentioned: Documentum, Broadvision, XYenterprise. Of note are two checklists: 10 Considerations Before Making the Move to XML and 10 Things To Ask XML Vendors. - MG

Coyle, Karen. "Stakeholders and Standards in the E-Book Ecology: Or, It's the Economics, Stupid!" Library Hi Tech 19(4) (2001): 314-324. - Early on, Coyle says: "To an outside observer, the nascent e-book business today is quite chaotic." I suspect it looks that way on the inside too, as publishers and vendors struggle to build viable proprietary products in a very tough market. The development of e-book standards might improve the situation. As Coyle says: "no one wants to invest in the BetaMax of e-books." Coyle clearly and succinctly explains emerging e-book standards: DAISY (digital audio book format), EBX (digital rights management system), ODRL (digital rights management language), ONIX (distribution and promotion), Open eBook (e-book format), and XrML (digital rights management language). I'd pay particular attention to EBX, ODRL, and XrML. If e-books eventually take off, these digital rights standards could have a significant impact on libraries and their users.- CB

Crawford, Walt. "Text-e: Monophone Comments on a Trilingual Conference" Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large 2(3) (February 2002): 6-12 (http://home.att.net/~wcc.techx/civ2i3.pdf). - Library commentator Crawford responds to the opinions expressed at Text-e, self-described as "the first entirely virtual symposium dedicated to investigating the impact of the Web on reading, writing and the diffusion of knowledge." If that sounds ambitious, it is. And to a large degree the ensuing discussion lives up to those ambitions, at least in terms of raising questions and fueling discussion of these issues. If deep questions intrigue you, you could do worse than the Text-e virtual symposium, whether you are interested in Crawford's take on it or not. But Crawford's take is worth your time, since he brings his usual sharp-as-a-tack, critical perspective to a set of essays that can often use some criticism. Personally, I don't always agree with Crawford, but I typically find his writing provocative, entertaining, and worth my time. - RT

Godin, Seth. "Survival is Not Enough" Fast Company (January 2002): 90-94 (http://www.fastcompany.com/online/54/survival.html). - Unless you've been living in a cave, you've seen a heck of a lot of change in the last ten years. Get used to it. Or, as Godin says in this piece on the topic of his book of the same name, learn to "zoom". Zooming, Godin asserts, is the process of "bypassing our fear of change by constantly training people to make small changes." Unless constant evolution is built into our daily work lives, Godin says, your organization may turn out to be the next dinosaur. If you're undergoing too much change to read the book, or this brief magazine article, start with the summary of the book as a series of bullet points. If you're a true zoomer, that's likely all you'll need. - RT

Greenberg, Jane and Maria Cristina Pattuelli, Bijan Parsia and W. Davenport Robertson. "Author-generated Dublin Core Metadata for Web Resources: A Baseline Study in an Organization" JoDI: Journal of Digital Information 2(2) (January 2002) (http://jodi.ecs.soton.ac.uk/Articles/v02/i02/Greenberg/). - One of several papers from the Dublin Core 2001 Conference. This one looks at the possibility of content creators in an "organizational setting" producing acceptable metadata of their own. Content creators used an HTML form on the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences site. The results according to criteria also discussed in the article were apparently as good as that of "metadata professionals". A larger study is being planned. - LRK

Harmon, Amy. "'You've Got Mail,' More and More, and Mostly, It Is Junk" The New York Times (December 24, 2001) (http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/24/technology/24SPAM.html) - No, it's not your imagination that the flood of spam into your inbox is increasing exponentially. This article reports that Brightmail (http://www.brightmail.com/), a company that provides spam-blocking services to corporations and ISPs, found that unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE) comprised almost 13 percentage of the messages received by its customers in the fourth quarter of 2001 — "nearly double the share of the previous quarter." You don't need a degree in economics to understand why UCE is such an attractive strategy to certain types of marketers. Sending out 10,000 spams is not substantially more expensive than sending out one, since you don't have the incremental costs of paper, postage, etc. Unfortunately, critics maintain, this torrent of spam "threatens to undermine the utility of the Internet at precisely the time when anthrax fears and cost-cutting efforts have prompted more businesses to use it as a substitute for postal mail." People are getting so inundated with junk e-mail that legitimate e-mail marketing messages are getting lost in the shuffle and/or being deleted unread. - SK

Klein, Leo Robert. "Design Shirk: Disparities Between the Wealth of Our Material and the Poverty of its Use" VINE 124 (September 2001): 6-11. - Current Cites' own Leo Klein takes library and archive web sites to task for often overlooking good user interface design in our rush to move our rich content to the web. Although he points out some specific sites as examples, many other digitization projects should see themselves in some of the mistakes cited. Stating that "anyone can design a web page but not everyone can design one well," Klein makes the case for putting web and graphic designers at the same table as librarians and archivists when a digital library project is launched. After all, he asserts, "results and value are what all our users are looking for...We then have a responsibility to meet these expectations — at least half-way — by developing sites that users are going to find easy to use and interesting." Amen! - RT

Mach, Michelle. "The Service of Server-Side Includes" Information Technology and Libraries 20(4) (December 2001):213-219 (http://www.lita.org/ital/2004_mach.html). - I normally avoid articles that explain how to use a particular technology, as being out of scope for a current awareness newsletter. But given the fact that one of the neatest web technologies around has been available in web servers for years and continues to be completely under-utilized on library web sites, I'm making an exception in this case. Server-side includes are simple, easy to use, and can make updating your web site a snap. What else do you need to know? If you have anything to do with managing web sites, run, don't walk to this tutorial and learn what you should have known back in 1995. - RT

Matthews, William. "Electronic Records Baffle Agencies" Federal Computer Week (December 24, 2001) (http://www.fcw.com/fcw/articles/2001/1217/web-nara-12-24-01.asp) - A survey by SRA for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA - http://www.nara.gov/) found that most federal agencies are still clueless about electronic records. Typically, agencies will create documents in electronic format, but when it comes time to store them, they print them out and stash the paper versions away. The survey also revealed a great deal of confusion about which electronic records are "official," leading to a situation in which a lot of stuff is just nuked, particularly e-mails. The Department of Energy (http://www.energy.gov/), for example, receives more than a million e-mails every day, which "makes it impossible for the agency to comply with its own policy of printing and saving e-mails that qualify as records." Some federal agencies blame NARA for the confusion, feeling that they have been left to flounder without official guidance. But the survey found that NARA was only part of the problem; the real issue is the pattern of lackadaisical recordkeeping in most agencies, due to underfunding and understaffing. "As one agency official told the survey team, record keeping 'is No. 26 on our list of top 25 priorities.'" - SK

Meserve, Jean. "Report: GPS Could Be Terrorist Target" CNN.com (January 8, 2002) (http://www.cnn.com/2002/US/01/08/ret.gps.terror/) - As if we needed anything else to keep us awake at night... "Defending the American Homeland" (http://www.heritage.org/homelanddefense/welcome.html), a report by The Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank, recommends, among other things, classifying GPS as "critical infrastructure." The report says we need more GPS satellites, and that they should be monitored more closely. GPS uses a very low signal that makes it vulnerable to jamming; the report notes "Russia is actively marketing GPS jamming equipment." If terrorist organizations began jamming GPS signals, the report says, it would threaten public safety, disrupt transportation and wreak all sorts of economic havoc. - SK

Stanton, Jeffrey M. "Company Profile of the Frequent Internet User". Communications of the ACM 45(1) (January 2002): 55-59. - Pathological Internet addicts monopolizing the corporate LAN for antisocial and ultimately self-destructive purposes. The image is familiar enough but is it real? That's what the author sets out to test in a survey of four hundred engineers. The author's findings: "frequent Internet users contribute as much or more to their organizations as their colleagues who use the Internet less frequently". This is a pleasant beginning to several articles devoted to workplace internet abuse in January's CACM. The level of acceptance of employer monitoring implied in one or two of the papers may be hard for many to take. Alternative analyses, also present in the articles, see monitoring as potentially detrimental to workplace creativity and job satisfaction. - LRK

Stewart, Thomas A. "The Case Against Knowledge Management" Business 2.0 (February 2002) (http://www.business2.com/articles/mag/0,1640,36747,FF.html) - Just about every organization recognizes the need for some iteration of knowledge management, and there are multiple vendors cashing in on "solutions." In this excerpt from his latest book, Stewart says companies "waste billions on knowledge management because they fail to figure out what knowledge they need, or how to manage it," and attempts to tell you how to answer both of those questions. One big truth: the fanciest knowledge management package in the world is worthless if your employees won't use it. Imposing a "solution" on people before you make an effort to understand what they want and need is a classic recipe for failure. This excerpt, which includes brief case studies, points out that knowledge management resources go unused because they aren't useful. "Either the work isn't connected to the knowledge or the knowledge isn't connected to the work." Before choosing a knowledge management system, Stewart walks you through three questions you need to answer: What is your work group? What do they need to know? Are you a standardizer or a customizer (in terms of reusing knowledge)? - SK

Tomaiuolo, Nicholas G. "When Image Is Everything" Searcher 10(1) (January 2002) (http://www.infotoday.com/searcher/jan02/tomaiuolo.htm) - One of the joys of the World Wide Web is its rich collection of sounds and images, many of which can be used for commercial as well as personal purposes. The "old" way of locating images, via the large generalized search engines, was to combine a keyword with an image file type — e.g., "woodpecker and .jpg" might take you to a site where there are photographs of woodpeckers. Blessedly, it's gotten a whole lot easier to track down what you need because you now have an impressive arsenal of specialized image search engines at your beck and call. The author describes a number of these, pointing out some strengths and weaknesses, and offering usage tips. Covered here are: AltaVista Image Search (http://www.altavista.com/sites/search/simage), Ditto (http://www.ditto.com/), Excite (http://www.excite.com/search/), FAST Multimedia Search (http://multimedia.alltheweb.com/), Google Image Search (http://images.google.com/advanced_image_search), HotBot (http://hotbot.lycos.com/), Ithaki Image and Photo Metasearch (http://www.todalanet.com/images/), IXQUICK (http://www.ixquick.com/), Lycos Multimedia Search (http://multimedia.lycos.com/), Picsearch (http://www.picsearch.com/), Scour (http://www.scour.com/), Yahoo! Picture Gallery (http://gallery.yahoo.com/), and Big Search Engine Index to Images (http://www.search-engine-index.co.uk/Images_Search). Of course, as the author points out, "Copyright is the biggest bugaboo in using images from the Web." Whether it should be or not is a matter of debate; nonetheless, it's always a good idea to ask for permission if you want to use someone else's images or sounds. The article includes a rundown of the major image file formats, links to sites that are rich in images, and instructions for saving an online image to your hard drive. - SK

United States Government Printing Office. "Biennial Report to Congress on the Status of GPO Access" (December 31, 2001) (http://www.gpo.gov/biennialreport/). - One of the most cherished Web ideals has been the free and open access to public information, and a periodic check on GPO Access is a great way to monitor the progress of one of the largest, most heavily used examples of that ideal. Much space is given to blowing Access' horn, understandable since the report is directed at those holding the purse strings, and GPO clearly does have a lot to be proud of. Knowing from personal experience just how useful this site can be at a reference desk, I was happy to see firm evidence that this resource should continue to thrive. As well as the list of accomplishments, there are descriptions of effectiveness assessments, user feedback, costs and benefits and future projects. - JR


Current Cites 13(1) (January 2002) ISSN: 1060-2356
Copyright © 2002 by the Regents of the University of California All rights reserved.

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Copyright © 2002 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
Document maintained at http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CurrentCites/2002/cc02.13.1.html by Roy Tennant.
Last update January 29, 2002. SunSITE Manager: manager@sunsite.berkeley.edu