Current Cites

Volume 13, no. 10, October 2002

Edited by Roy Tennant

The Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720
ISSN: 1060-2356 - http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CurrentCites/2002/cc02.13.10.html

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

"Managing Your Web Files: Containing Information Sprawl   (17 October 2002) (http://users.erols.com/technique/notes.html). - If you have responsibility for a website or part of one, you know how quickly things can get out of control. Well, here's something worth at least a quick browse. These are notes from a Washington, D.C. "Web women" luncheon on managing website content. Some of what you'll find here is common sense: "A well-designed, user-friendly site starts with good structure." But you are also challenged to consider the issue of "Site Structure versus File Structure versus Document Structure," and the role of such things as templates, style sheets, archives, document length/size, policies and audience targets. There are links to resources on usability, broken link checkers and free PDF tools. - SK

Barrett, Robertson.  "Spyware EverywhereConsumer WebWatch   (21 October 2002) (http://www.consumerwebwatch.org/news/articles/spyware.htm). - "Adware" is a category of freeware/shareware that allows people to use it gratis in exchange for viewing advertising incorporated into the interface. Fine, many folks say. I don't mind looking at ads. Alas, that may only be the tip of the proverbial iceberg. In reality, many of these programs "phone home" to some marketing entity that tracks your online activities. Ostensibly, this is just so you can receive ads that are "target to your interest." But the worst part of this is that lots of people just don't realize what they are getting into. And a secondary concern is that this type of software is up and running whenever you are online, leaving a potential "back door" for hackers. P2P file-sharing applications such as KaZAa are highlighted in the article. There are links to spyware detection and removal tools, and a sidebar article on "the five major categories of spyware" and how they work. Consumer WebWatch, whose mission is "to investigate; inform; and improve the credibility of information published on the World Wide Web," is a grant-funded project of the venerable Consumer Reports organization. You can sign up for online for a free monthly newsletter. - CB

Bowrey, Kathy, and Matthew  Rimmer.  "Rip, Mix, Burn: The Politics of Peer To Peer and Copyright LawFirst Monday   7(8) (05 August 2002) (http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue7_8/bowrey/). - When writers engage in analysis of the musically driven revolution in peer to peer file sharing, Napster, and its successors, it's tempting to focus on the legal and economic consequences. Indeed, legal minds are trained to assess risk and evaluate how stakeholders fare when new social movements conflict with established markets and legal protections. The authors turn that approach on its head, tackling the creative urges that lurk behind the legal moves that drove a new market paradigm underground. The authors see the legal defense of music publishers in terms of its emphasis on first amendment rights and ownership. They assess the file sharing communities in light of the new social, legal and economic relations these communities produce. "The law," they argue, "has mismanaged cultural diversity." It would be better for all if the legal establishment avoids the temptation to "rip, mix and burn the legal jurisprudence," and focuses on the broader forces that motivate digital music users. - TH

Clark, Kendall Grant.  "TAG Rejects HLinkXML.com   (02 October 2002) (http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2002/10/02/deviant.html). - Following the release of the XHTML 2.0 draft reported in last month's Current Cites, a dispute has erupted between two different W3C groups over the future nature of links. Will it be XLink or HLink? If this is the kind of nitty-gritty that you can sink your teeth into, this article's for you. For yet more information, see the www-tag discussion list at http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-tag/. - LRK

Duguid, Paul.  "The Social life of Legal Information: First ImpressionsFirst Monday   7(9) (2 September 2002) (http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue7_9/duguid/). - Duguid turns his attention to the legal world to further explore the meaning of community, information, libraries and "practice". This sprawling article touches all the bases and invokes both the young turks and gray eminences on all sides of the digital revolution. At the center of his analysis lies an interesting paradox: while law schools remain virtually unchanged in how they deliver education to law students, the law library has changed dramatically. The curriculum at law school remains firmly grounded in the Socratic Method and "community building": learning to solve problems with a cohort of peers, and taking that "practice" into the profession of law. Duguid points out that historically, law libraries participated in community building in a central way, and the digital revolution has relieved them of this duty to a degree. Yet he cautions that the reduction of the paradigm of the library to a "warehouse" or supply site, that offers whatever vendors don't care to digitize, is an oversimplification. The highlight in this article is the cogent analysis of the full value-chain of knowledge creation in the legal world, and what it has to say to society at large. It's easy to sense the book that is sure to follow this article, and that too promises to be a good read. - TH

Eden, Brad.  "Metadata and Its Application"  Library Technology Reports   (September-October 2002) - Few topics are as important to libraries today as metadata, and how it can be applied to provide more robust services. Therefore, this report should be required reading for all catalogers, reference librarians, and administrators. Eden does an amazing job of both surveying the broad spectrum of the field and distilling the essential information down to about 80 pages -- and most of that can be skimmed or referred to as needed. Eden starts with definitions and descriptions of the term, why it is important, and the various types of metadata. Metadata principles are followed by a section on resources for learning more, which is chock-full of free web-based articles and sites. Another section describes a few dozen important metadata standards and emerging standards in summary form. The ending sections go into linking and various ways in which metadata is being used. A glossary, bibliography, and directory of metadata management products round out the report. All in all, this is an immediate classic that belongs in the hands of all librarians who take their jobs seriously. - RT

Hurst, Mark.  "Interview: Marissa Mayer, Product Manager, Googlegoodexperience.com   (15 October 2002) (http://www.goodexperience.com/columns/02/1015google.html). - Is Google the most successful database in history? It's hard to talk in such terms without being accused of hyperbole but surely some of the search engine's indisputable success is due to its 'less is more' approach to interface design. Marissa Mayer is an interface designer at Google and she explains to Mark Hurst (of creativegood.com) the principles behind Google's interface development. "I like to say," she tells Hurst at one point, "that Google should be 'what you want, when you want it.' As opposed to 'everything you could ever want, even when you don't.'" - LRK

Jantz, Ronald, and Rudolph  Bell.  "English Advice Manuals Online at Rutgers: A Partnership in a New Course Using Digital Books and Web Technology"  Library Hi Tech   20(3) p. 318-324 (2002) - Account of a wonderful research course at Rutgers where undergrads have to pluck out various texts from UMI's Early English Books Online. Topics for research include such "popular-advice" themes as "midwifery, child-rearing, suicide, do-it-yourself exorcism", etc. The authors express disappointment with various methods at disseminating the texts (all images files and hence rather large) using various 'e-book' solutions. It seems that simply writing the things to a CD and handing those out is probably the best solution. As things stood, the students preferred print-outs. Whatever the quirks, however, it's hard not being jealous at what these students have available. - LRK

Lee, Jennifer 8. "A Palmtop for the ProsecutionThe New York Times   (24 October 2002) (http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/24/technology/circuits/24palm.html?8cir). - For awhile, we were witness to a rash of stories about "the authorities" bursting in and seizing computers to examine hard drives for digital forensic evidence. So I guess it shouldn't be too surprising that handhelds/PDAs are the newest "smoking guns" on the high tech law enforcement frontier. After all, "it's not just law-abiding citizens who appreciate their usefulness in managing appointments, contacts and schedules. Criminals, too, are using them to coordinate their activities." Thus, the new breed of forensic expert: "the Palm reader." What sorts of evil-doers use handhelds? Drug dealers, pimps, money launderers, smugglers, stalkers and even spies. In many ways, the data on a handheld is even more of "an alter ego" than what investigators find on a computer hard drive. Says one forensic consultant, who also teaches at the University of Texas, "It represents their aspirations, who their contacts are, where they spend their time, their tasks and objectives, and how they completed those." Handheld devices are also beginning to figure prominently in civil cases, such as intellectual property disputes. Investigators have found that people are "remarkably truthful" on their PDAs. Additionally, it's not unusual for someone to store all their passwords for other devices and systems on his or her handheld. - SK

Meyer, Eric A.  "An Interview With Douglas Bowman of Wired NewsNetscape DevEdge   (11 October 2002) (http://devedge.netscape.com/viewsource/2002/wired-interview/). - Somewhat geeky this one. Douglas Bowman led the re-design effort at Wired.com. The re-design has gotten a lot of attention due to its use of standards' based mark-up including XHTML and CSS. Bowman goes into the benefits of doing this plus enlarges on a number of considerations that the Wired team had to make. Although in interview format (with noted CSS maven Eric A. Meyer as interviewer), the article rates almost as a case study in the use of front-end mark-up technologies. - LRK

Relyea, Harold C., ed..  "Issues in Homeland Security and Information "  Government Information Quarterly   19(3) (July 2002) - The description of war against terrorism as lengthy, shadowy and sometimes without clear victories can also characterize the current conflicts around government information, where rights of public access are balanced against national security, resulting in many grey areas. Government Information Quarterly presents five articles which analyze the changes in government information policy and technology since 9/11. The expected watchdogging of challenges to freedom and privacy is there in articles like Robert Gellman's "Perspectives on Privacy and Terrorism: All Is Not Lost--Yet." Also, for systems planners there is J.W. Seifert's piece, "The Effects of September 11, 2001, Terrorist Attacks on Public and Private Information Infrastructures: a Preliminary Assessment of Lessons Learned," which emphasizes the importance of system redundancies, decentralization and recovery plans. Other articles give historical perspective on information and national security, track the deletion of government Web pages, and assess what "homeland security" actions may mean for policy. Highly recommended as a single comprehensive source for informed opinions on these issues. - JR

Soo, Christine, Timothy  Devinney, and David  Midgley, et. al. "Knowledge Management: Philosophy, Processes, and Pitfalls"  California Management Review   44(4) p. 129-150 (Summer 2002) - Executives are now confronted with an 'unmanageable' imperative - the management of a completely invisible asset. So the authors introduce Knowledge Management in this comprehensive academic article funded by grants from several Australian research agencies. Further confusion arises from IT companies promoting so call Knowledge Management systems. In reality these are only data or document management software. These solutions may aid in harnessing information, but per se don't create knowledge. "Knowledge or know-how, has to do with the process of learning, understanding, and applying information." The authors contend that a firm's knowledge management systems comprises four subsystems: 1. database subsystem, 2. organizational language subsystem, 3. networking subsystem, and 4. transfer subsystem. Further to the preceding four components, the authors offer a section called Knowledge Traps: Lessons from the Management of Knowledge. Eight 'lessons' or caveats are included with subtitles such as "Formal databases must be treated as strategic tools..,." "Informal networking is an important source of knowledge...," etc. In conclusion the authors state that knowledge management can be measured, and offer a case study. Referred to by a pseudonym, the example given is that of a medium-sized media design company. Extensive notes and references round out this study. - MG

Stewart, Thomas A.  "How to Think With Your Gut"  Business 2.0   3(11) p. 98-104 (November 2002) - Although this piece is squarely aimed at the core readership of this business monthly, that doesn't mean that the rest of us can't get something useful out of it. The examples may all hail from the private sector, but who in the public sector hasn't ever had a hunch about a new service or a better way to get the job done? For those of you who have, this piece will reinforce your innate sense that your intuition has something to say and you'd better listen. For those of you who haven't, or haven't listened, this piece may be enough to make you think twice. The article refers to a growing body of research that appears to show intuition (instinct, hunch, etc.) is in fact inseparable from effective decision making. In fact, the article asserts, "in complex or chaotic situations...intuition usually beats rational analysis." So how does this tie in with those of us in the information business? I really don't think I need to tell you, but if you insist, it's because our professional environment is changing faster than we could possible cope should rational analysis be our only tool. Does that mean we forget about cool, calm consideration and simply follow our instincts? No, not entirely, but as this article suggests, you should be paying as much attention to what you feel is right as you do to what you know to be true. P.S. - The journal has embargoed the web version until after we are due to publish this issue of Current Cites, so although we are unable to provide you with a URL, check out the web site after November 5, 2002 and it will most likely be available. - RT

Tenopir, Carol, and Donald W.  King.  "Reading Behaviour and Electronic JournalsLearned Publishing   15 (October 2002) (http://fidelio.catchword.com/vl=16665795/cl=37/nw=1/fm=docpdf/rpsv/catchword/alpsp/09531513/v15n4/s3/p259). - This article presents the findings of several surveys about scholars' journal reading habits that were conducted in 2000 and 2001. One interesting finding is that natural and social science faculty at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville had a limited awareness of e-print services. For example, 8 of 99 subjects (8%) knew of arXiv.org, which is probably the highest profile e-print service in existence. By contrast, 29% of subjects at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory knew of the service. While e-print services may loom large in the minds of reformers, it appears that there is a significant amount of work to do in educating scholars about the existence and potentials of such services. Another interesting finding is that, of UT subjects, only 8% read articles from e-journals that the library subscribed to, 4% from free e-journals, 3% from e-journals that subjects subscribed to, and 2% from authors' Web pages. On the other hand, 41% read articles from personal print subscriptions and 24% from library print subscriptions. Print isn't dead yet. Check out the article for many more intriguing results. - CB

Tischelle, George.  "Communication GapInformation Week   (911) p. 81-84 (21 October 2002) (http://www.informationweek.com/story/IWK20021018S0004). - This article contains critical advice for those who are interested in hiring and keeping young people as part of the staff. "Recruiters trolling campuses should keep their next class of staffers productive and creative, and surround them with e-mail, instant messaging, broadband Internet access, wireless communications, and a way to play music." In particular, the instant messaging (IM) genie is out of the bottle, and if it's not already being used on an enterprise-wide basis, your shiny new employees are going to download consumer-oriented IM applications and use them on their own. Withhold judgement, however, because communications tools like this can turn your business "from a standard 9-a.m.-to-5-p.m. shop to a 24-by-7 shop...." The article cites one company's experience with a summer intern who, now back on campus, routinely uses IM "to keep tabs on IT projects he worked on during his internship." Another issue covered in this article: the upcoming generation of employees is naturally tech-savvy, which means they will be more inclined to try and solve computing problems on their own rather than immediately picking up the phone and calling the helpdesk. The obvious benefit here, of course, is that this frees helpdesk staffers to spend more time on complicated projects. - SK

Wall-Smith, Matthew.  "The Network Society: A Shift in Cognitive Ecologies?First Monday   7(9) (2 September 2002) (http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue7_9/wallsmith/). - The author is interested in the intersections of cultural and critical theory with new media, and he has delivered a dense analysis of the ways in which media answer to the grand claims of "newness" that have been attached to the Internet in particular. He reviews cultural theories of communication thoroughly, tracing how philosophers study cognition in both oral and written traditions. This sets the stage for raising the question of just how new the Internet is as a medium, and whether it will become an add-on to market-driven and consumer-driven economies. He concludes that capitalist systems tend to be disorganized, and this has left "open space" for creativity with media, particularly with respect to creative use of "nonlinear" narratives. - TH


Current Cites - ISSN: 1060-2356
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