Current Cites

Volume 13, no. 9, September 2002

Edited by Roy Tennant

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

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

"When Internet Companies Morph: Understanding Organizational Strategy Changes in the 'New' New EconomyFirst Monday   7(7) (1 July 2002) ( - The authors analyze the life and times of 125 Internet companies, attempting to chart several factors that will help academics make head or tail of what happened in their lifespan. They also direct their analysis at executives, who might benefit from knowing how dot-coms "mutated", and why. 90 billion dollars in venture capital was aimed at startups in just a few years, as we all know, and getting it right next time will surely trump visionary rhetoric. Some quantifiable data is not only in order, but overdue. The authors construct a database of business articles to create a snapshot of Internet firms, and then apply game theory methodology to study behavior. They employ the jargon of evolution to advantage ("competitive genetics" is one of the terms used here), and identify five firm categories. This article also links firm performance with articulated business plans (which did a fair of amount morphing themselves). Theories are well-articulated, as well as well-illustrated with visually displayed data. In conclusion, they urge both academics and managers to develop "new" new economy firms by studying the firms of the not-so-distant past. - TH

Bates, Marcia J..  "After the dot-bomb: Getting Web Information Retrieval Right This TimeFirst Monday   7(7) (1 July 2002) ( - Anyone who ever thought there was a slight problem with Internet search engines developed by dot-com firms will, upon reading this article, have two rewarding experiences. First, the sheer enjoyment of reading a skillfully written piece that skewers first generation web search engines is itself a treat. Second, Bates' article is remarkably informative, terribly pithy, and wastes no words (all in plain English) setting forth the vital importance of applying the corpus of library-based knowledge to "new" information retrieval challenges. Bates graciously avoids succumbing to the temptation to say, "Wait! We were there first! We know best!" as so many pundit-librarians have. Her arguments are so persuasive she doesn't have to bother. But she does indulge in a bit of fun at the expense of the circa-1997 Web visionary's manifesto, as we so frequently witnessed in countless Powerpoint presentations. "I have watched as hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested to re-invent the wheel - often badly," she says. Regarding content: "Content" has been treated like a kind of soup that "content providers" scoop out of pots and dump wholesale into information systems. Don't miss this one. - TH

Besser, Howard.  "The next stage: Moving from isolated digital collections tointeroperable digital librariesFirst Monday   7(6) (3 June 2002) ( - Noted image expert Howard Besser takes a closer look at the challenges that beset true interoperability in digital collections -- an issue that is likely to grow in complexity as we learn more about it. He argues that online collections do not yet function like conventional libraries, that many digital collections are experimental and do not encompass vital features (like customer service), not to mention genuinely trustworthy preservation programs. Moreover, since many digital library developers work in relative isolation, a lingua franca among all developers is more elusive than it may seem. Besser presents a conceptual framework that takes several factors into consideration. He assesses the early, experimental history of digital libraries, the roles of conventional libraries, and infrastructure elements like metadata. After reviewing recently history, he suggests that the challenges are not simply technical. "Conventional libraries have both components and ethical traditions," he says. "The digital collections we are constructing will not truly be 'digital libraries' until they incorporate a significant number of the components of conventional libraries, and adhere to many of the important ethical traditions and values of libraries." - TH

Breeding, Marshall.  "A Hard Look at Wireless NetworksnetConnect   (Summer 2002) ( - Wireless networking is far from new, but recently it has become much more available and commonplace. If you're not an expert on the technology, this overview piece has a lot for you. In fact, Breeding does the best job I've seen so far in both explaining the technologies and standards involved as well as issues such as security and whether or not it may make sense for your library to offer such a service to your users. Whether or not you are currently contemplating wireless networking, spend ten minutes with this piece and you'll at least be able to have an intelligent conversation on the topic. A sidebar by Bill Drew describes how one college library has implemented wireless networking and some of the impacts it has had on related services. - RT

Chase, Nicholas.  "The Web's Future: XHTML 2.0: A Sneak Peek at the Changes.IBM developerWorks   (September 2002) ( - "Sneak peek" is right: The W3C released a working draft of XHTML 2.0 in August and Nicholas Chase gives us a once-over-lightly overview of some of its distinguishing features. Anyone used to coding HTML in the traditional way might want to have a look at what's in store. Of course recommendations are fine and these may take years to implement (if ever), but some of the changes are major. They include no backward compatibility for older 'deprecated' tags, a new way of creating hyperlinks, and the replacement of the venerable 'img' tag. Hot stuff. - LRK

Deegan, Marilyn, Emil  Steinvel, and Edmund  King.  "Digitizing Historic Newspapers: Progress and ProspectsRLG DigiNews   6(4) (15 August 2002) ( - Anyone who's had a look at the British Library's innovative 'Online Newspaper Archive' pilot project will be interested in this account of how the digitization is carried out. A number of high-tech approaches are used. Where text is difficult to ocr because of problems with the microfilm, fuzzy logic is used and patterns of words are identified. This increases the "searchability" of the text. Next, key elements of the newspaper's page image (e.g. the headlines, articles, parts of articles, illustrations, photographs and the like) are identified through an automated process of "segmentation". The end result, as anyone who's ever seen the pilot project knows, is a very fluid retrieval method with exceptional ways to manipulate various parts of the digitized newspaper page. - LRK

Greenstein, Daniel, and Suzanne E.  Thorin. The Digital Library: A Biography   Washington, DC: Digital Library Federation, Council on Library and Information Resources, 2002. ( - This fascinating report initially examines the three phases of digital library evolution: (1) the young digital library that relies on a "skunk works" approach; (2) the maturing digital library that moves beyond experimental projects to operational collections and services; and (3) the adult digital library that fully integrates with the conventional library. The description of these phases includes examples from existing digital library programs. Six in-depth case studies are presented in the next section of the report: California Digital Library, Harvard University, Indiana University, New York University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Virginia. Survey data from 21 institutions concludes the report. This report is essential reading for anyone interested in digital libraries. - CB

Hauck, Roslin V., and Suzanne  Weisband.  "When a Better Interface and Easy Navigation Aren't Enough: Examining the Information Architecture in a Law Enforcement AgencyJASIST   53(10) p. 846-854 (2002) ( - Humans are a conservative bunch. The moment they learn a skill using a particular piece of software, they're loathe to switch to a newer alternative no matter how attractive or easy to learn it might be. That at least is the finding of this interesting study on acceptance of a new crime information system by members of the Southwest Police Department. The researchers conducted usability studies while the new system, CopNet, was still in development and then significantly, did a follow-up study a year later when the thing was deployed. Interestingly enough, they found that while users perceived the new system as being more effective, they continued to use the old one. Reasons why this might be are discussed. Part of a special issue devoted to Information Architecture. - LRK

Jones, Steve, et. al.The Internet Goes to College   Washington, DC: Pew Internet and American Life Project, 15 September 2002. ( - This report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project summarizes findings from two surveys of college students at two-year and four-year public and private colleges and universities in the continental United States. A few of their findings include the fact that one-fifth of today's college students began using computers between the ages of 5 and 8; 85% of college students own their own computer, and nearly three-quarters of respondents say they use the Internet more than the library for information searching. The report is available both in HTML and Adobe Acrobat formats. In a refreshing departure from common practice, the raw data is also available for downloading, should you wish to come to your own conlusions. - RT

Kontzer, Tony.  "Who Goes There?Information Week   (904) p. 22-23 (2 September 2002) ( - Corporate America has already been trekking in the footsteps of the average teenager in deploying instant messaging (IM) as a communications tool. But according to this article, businesses are "finding more value in the technology that underlies it." That would be "presence awareness" -- the ability to see when other users are online and whether they are available. And because this is what businesses want, vendors are rushing to incorporate the feature into their products. It is, however, a controversial technology because of its privacy implications. Workers, for example, fear that it will be used to monitor them. Some managers see it as counterproductive, with the potential for frequent unscheduled interruptions during the workday. It's not like IM hasn't been used "on an ad hoc basis" in corporate environments up till now; individual employees have been downloading and installing it for several years. But corporate IT departments were not supporting the consumer-oriented software, and they also had security fears. Now there are IM products specifically for the workplace, with added functionalities that allow for use in tandem with other software tools. - SK

Martin, Elisabeth.  "Historic Libraries and Their Enduring ValueNew Library World   103(7/8) p. 259-266 (2002) ( - So much of our attention is focused on the digital aspect of libraries that often we ignore the continuing importance of the physical plant. Not so for Elizabeth Martin, director of planning, design and facilities at the Brooklyn Public Library. She's never met an old library building that she didn't like. "In my years of designing and renovating libraries," she tells us, "I have never come across a historic library that, when approached intelligently and sensitively, could not produce results that either met or surpassed anyone's renovation and restoration expectations." She goes on to describe the elements of a successful renovation process using examples from various branches of the Brooklyn Public Library. (Available through Emerald.) - LRK

Merholz, Peter.  "Progress ParalysisNew Archtiect   7(10) p. 28031 (October 2002) ( - In the movie Annie Hall, Woody Allen's character compares relationships to sharks -- if they don't keep moving forward, they die. Well, websites are kinda like that. Have you taken an objective look at yours lately? There's a pretty good chance your organization's site was built piecemeal over time -- in a whole series of separate smallish projects by an ever-changing cast of developers. And so now you've got this amorphous mass of HTML code that really doesn't work for anyone anymore -- not your staff, not your customers. This article, by a "user experience consultant," lays out "eight steps to get your website moving again." In short, these are: Build "an independent Web team that can rise above politics." Involve your entire organization, and work to raise your visibility within the organization. "Study your customers" until you understand their "mental models." Inventory your current site and see what you already have to offer. "Develop a flexible structure" so you can accomodate various types of users. "Design a useful style guide." Use a formal content management system. Consider adding personalization features. - SK

Minow, Mary.  "Library Records Post-Patriot Act (Federal Law)   (16 September 2002) ( - Everyone who works in a library -- but especially library administrators -- will want to bookmark this informative matrix that delineates key issues of the USA Patriot Act that affect libraries and library records. Includes intercept orders, search warrants, pen/trap orders, subpoenas, and notification for preservation of information. If you don't know what these things are, this chart will explain them to you and provide samples of each. You'll also find links to relevant laws and statutes. - SK

Tristam, Claire.  "Data ExtinctionTechnology Review   (October 2002) ( - A gentle introduction to the topic of digital preservation to those new to it, including a concluding table that summarizes strategies for preserving digital material: migration, emulation, encapsulation, and a "universal virtual computer". Anyone following the topic is unlikely to find anything new here, but it may be useful as a means to introduce novices to the issue. - RT

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

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