Current Cites

Volume 14, no. 1, January 2003

Edited by Roy Tennant

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

Contributors: Margaret Gross, Shirl Kennedy, Leo Robert Klein, Jim Ronningen, Roy Tennant

Syllabus (January 2003) - This is a free online magazine focusing on the use of new technology to enhance the delivery of higher education. There are four feature articles in the January 2003 issue, all worth reading. Boettcher, Judith B. Designing for Learning- The Pursuit of Well-Structured Content ( expounds the theme that course design often concentrates on process-overhauling what faculty and students are doing within the learning experience. The organization of what is being taught, and its availability in various formats -- the structure of the course content -- has received much less attention. Well-structured content can make the "jungle" of concepts, rules, and principles more readily learned by students. Multimedia resources, such as animations, simulations, encourage student involvement and increase sensory input, Woodell, Jim; Garofoli, E. Faculty Development and the Diffusion of Innovations ( is it that some faculty members are keen on implementing new technology, while others remain resistant. Institutions attempting to establish faculty development can benefit from work done forty years ago by Everett Rogers on the Diffusion of Innovations. Referring to Rogers's theory and related research, a professional development framework is proposed, that is sensitive to the different needs and capabilities of faculty.members. Popyack, J.L.; Hermann, N. Electronic Grading: When the Tablet is Mightier than the Pen ( states that while electronic submission of assignments has many advantages, there are also certain inherent disadvantages. One of the latter is the grader's inability to provide corrections and comments to the electronic document without degrading it. Several solutions are examined: An example of a pen-based interface is Adobe's Acrobat software. It provides a means of marking up PDF documents with an electronic pen, so the resulting document resembles the original with the grader's notations overlaid, much like a graded paper assignment. Hardware interfaces are presented such as the Wacom Graphire 2 graphics tablet costing less than $100. Further, a case is presented. Project DUPLEX (Drexel University Programming Learning EXperience) investigates use of technological advances to enhance the quality and delivery of large computer programming classes, while reducing costs of course administration. The fourth article, Thombs, Margaret M. Accessible Web Pages: Advice for Educators, ( addresses the need for suitable accessibility in compliance with the Americans with Disability Act.. Furthering the aims of Universal Access to Technology, teachers must know how their students respond to technology, and design educational pages that meet these needs. Each article includes links for further reading. - MG

First Nordic Conference on Scholarly Communication Lund, Sweden: Lund University Libraries, October 2002. ( - Looking at PowerPoint presentations from a conference is a bit like looking through a keyhole into a room full of objects -- you may be able to get a little sense of the space and be able to see a few things fairly well, but the rest is beyond your grasp. Nonetheless, the few things you can see fairly well in this collection of presentations ends up being worth it if you have an interest in scholarly communication and where it may be heading. In particular, pay attention to Ken Frazier's presentation, available in PDF form as are most of the presentations. - RT

Fifarek, Aimee. "Technology and Privacy in the Academic Library." Online Information Review (6) (2002) - Libraries collect data about their patrons. It's unavoidable, the consequence of automated systems and online services. This unfortunately puts libraries in an extremely difficult position, the author stresses, as far as privacy is concerned. As bearers of this information, libraries are under a professional obligation to deal responsibly with it yet outside groups whether from the same institution or from law-enforcement are sure to weigh in with conflicting priorities. The author, a aystems librarian at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, discusses how we got to this point and what we can do about it. [Available through Emerald]. - LRK

Jesdanun, Anick. "When Files Survive, But Not the Technology to Read Them" Philadelphia Inquirer p. D9 (23 January 2003) ( - The "digital dark age" would mean data forever lost: court transcripts, research papers, even digital family photos. This short article raises that familiar theme: how do we prevent the permanent loss of data that is born digital. Several solutions are described, none of which is a panacea. In recognition of the growing use of the semi-proprietary .pdf format, an international group is collaborating with Adobe to develop an archival version which could become the standard. - MG

Manasian, David. "Digital Dilemmas: a Survey of the Internet Society" The Economist 366(8308) (25 January 2003) ( - After starting with a standard Economist trick of quoting a rather "fringe" person (in this case John Perry Barlow in the heat of the moment seven years ago) then contrasting their own editorial tone as the voice of reason, this survey presents essays on privacy, copyright, direct democracy, repression and broad social change in the context of the networked environment. The strengths are the solid research and global scope one expects here, so the survey is worth reading as an authoritative state-of-the-net and reasonable predictor of future trends, but don't expect any revelations. The section which most piqued my interest, claiming to describe how repressive regimes might use the net to keep down dissent, really focused on the unsurprising limitations being put on net access. There were a few examples of how some governments use the net as a propaganda tool to further cement what seems to be a part of the culture anyway, but otherwise it's the usual sad tale of censorship, data gathering and telecommunications monitoring. Dissenters won't pick up any useful tools here, either - they already know about pay telephones and sneakernet. Of greater interest in the realm of political change is the essay about direct democracy, which raises questions about the future of governance when individuals can be quickly and easily polled. Do you leave politics to the politicians? Do you trust a jury of your peers? Um ... is there a third option? - JR

Mitchell, Steven, Margaret Mooney, and Julie Mason, et. al. "iVia Open Source Virtual Library System" D-Lib Magazine 9(1) (January 2003) ( - Although the average "Joe" on the street probably uses Yahoo! rather than Infomine, librarians are likely familiar with this large collection of librarian-selected Internet resources. Well, hang on to your hats, folks, because this isn't your bun-wearing librarian's index anymore. The technology underlying Infomine (dubbed "iVia") includes focused crawling, topic distillation, inter-link analysis, automatic record creation, URL checking, and much more. After receiving some major grant funding, the Infomine team has apparently created a robust and full-featured set of tools to create well-managed collections of records for Internet resources. A similar open source tool kit is the Scout Portal Toolkit, but if forced for a thumbnail recommendation, I would guess that the Scout Toolkit would be easier to install and run, while iVia would be more full-featured and technically advanced. If you're interested in trying out iVia, you can download it at - RT

Olsen, Stefanie. "Pop-Ups Add New Twist" (CNET) (20 December 2002) ( - You may have already been assaulted by this latest "advance" in pop-up advertising gimmickry. Normally, you have to actually click on a pop-up window to be transported to the advertiser's website. With the new "kick-through" technology, all it takes is moving your cursor over the ad window, and...voila! You're whisked away to where you probably don't want go. This, of course, makes it more difficult for people to shut down the annoying ad windows. The online travel site Orbitz is one of the larger offenders. The author blames the onslaught of pop-ups and other obnoxious online advertising technologies on the "dotcom downfall." In response, more consumers are using ad-blocking and pop-up killer software, and the three largest ISPs -- America Online, EarthLink and MSN -- have stopped assaulting their members with pop-ups. - SK

Pace, Andrew K. "The Usability Toolbox" Computers in Libraries 23(1) (January 2003) ( - Those of us who manage web sites all want our sites to be used -- but do we always know just how usable our sites are? Probably not, or at least as well as we should. That's ok, help is on the way in the form of this good overview of usability tools. Some methods can be expensive and time consuming, but there are others that are easy and inexpensive. So pick your tool(s) and get started -- your users will love you for it, and you'll know since they'll stay longer and come back more often. - RT

Perrone, Jane. "Weblogs Get Upwardly Mobile" Guardian Unlimited (12 December 2002) (,12455,858719,00.html). - "Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain," said Dale Carnegie. "And most do." Mr. Carnegie, alas, was long gone by the time weblogs came along. But as this quote indicates, he probably would have understood the phenomenon. Welogs are great -- I keep one for our library ( -- but maybe, just maybe, we are kinda sorta possibly in danger of being crushed by the sheer weight of all this digital verbiage. If this article is any indication of where weblogging is headed, things could get worse very shortly. The latest trend, apparently, is "moblogging - or posting thoughts to your weblog from wherever you might be, via mobile phone or handheld device." Think of the other implications here. Raise your virtual hand if you've ever been in danger of getting run off the road or crushed by some clueless idiot in a huge SUV, oblivious to the outside world as he/she chatted on a cell phone. Now imagine drivers like this being able to blog while behind the wheel. Folks, this is scary. But "moblogging" has already taken hold with the early adopters. And since there are now cell phones with embedded digital cameras, people are posting pictures along with text. Take a look at Hiptop Nation ("Wireless blogging for the hiptop masses" -- e.g., owners of a T-Mobile Sidekick). - SK

Skrzycki, Cindy. "U.S. Opens Online Portal to Rulemaking" The Washington Post p. E01 (23 January 2003) ( - At first glance, this seems like a portal for people who have way too much time on their hands. Its purpose "is to enable anyone with a computer and Internet access to find every federal regulation that is open for comment, read it and submit their views." Hoo boy. But at second glance...well, why not? A law professor quoted in the article says that special interest groups have known how to do this for a long time, and now it's more accessible and convenient for the rest of us. More input from citizens outside the Beltway can only be a good thing. The site, which can handle 2,000 simultaneous users and 16,000 comments per hour, allows users to find agencies and regulations by keyword and then enter comments of up to 4,000 characters. It also accepts electronic attachments. Submitted comments will be automatically forwarded to the agency involved in the rulemaking. Users cannot see other people's comments or background information about the rules. When the system is developed further, it may allow users to be notified by e-mail when rules of interest are initially open for comment. Cruise on over to if you want to add your two cents. - SK

Smith, MacKenzie, Mary Barton, and Mick Bass, et. al. "DSpace: An Open Source Dynamic Digital Repository" D-Lib Magazine 9(1) (January 2003) ( - One of the more interesting developments in the emerging topic of institutional repositories (see The Case for Institutional Repositories: A SPARC Position Paper which we cited in the July issue of Current Cites) has been the partnership between the MIT Libraries and Hewlett-Packard Labs, which has created DSpace, an open source repository package. This piece describes the DSpace system, discusses its implementation at MIT and its dissemination to other institutions, and sustainability issues. Anyone interested in establishing an institutional repository should give DSpace serious consideration. Those who are not, but are active in developing digital libraries, would also do well to pay heed to their technical architecture and implementation. - RT

Suber, Peter. "Removing Barriers to Research: An Introduction to Open Access for Librarians" College & Research Library News 64(1) p. 92-94, 113 (February 2003) ( - Suber is well known as a vocal and articulate advocate of open access to scholarly journal literature. His Free Online Scholarship Newsletter and accompanying web site are key resources for those working to remove the barriers of high prices and over-restrictive copyright control that increasingly prevent scholars from accessing the literature that they require. In this blunt and direct article, Suber touches on the serials pricing crisis and quickly moves on to a crisis he terms the "permission crisis." The permission crisis is caused, he asserts, by legal and technological barriers erected by publishers to limit what readers and libraries may do with the journals for which they have paid. These limits, he points out, are more stringent than those for print journals. He then makes the case for open access to scholarly journal literature, taking some pains to make clear to the reader that he is not advocating changes in copyright law, civil disobedience, or other actions that may be time consuming or problematic. Rather, he favors the direct route of scholars and libraries cooperating to create open repositories (mainly for pre-peer-reviewed or non-peer-reviewed scholarship) and open peer-reviewed journals. To many of us, Suber is preaching to the choir. But by writing this piece he has put in our hands a compelling argument with which to persuade those who may either not understand the current crises in scholarly communication, or care. - RT

Current Cites - ISSN: 1060-2356
Copyright (c) 2003 by the Regents of the University of California All rights reserved.

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