The Library, University of California,
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Contributors: Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Margaret Gross, Terry Huwe, Shirl Kennedy, Leo Robert Klein, Jim Ronningen
Battelle, John. "Putting Online Ads in Context" Business 2.0 4(5) (June 2003): 82. (http://www.business2.com/articles/mag/0,1640,49475,00.html). - Has the Web media world finally stumbled onto a paid advertising model that actually works? According to John Battelle, Overture is on the verge of rolling out a new service -- "contextual advertising" -- that strategically places advertising links adjacent to relevant content on websites. No flashing banners, no "skyscrapers," no obnoxious animations that take over your screen. Sound familar? It should. We've been seeing this type of advertising on Google for awhile now; Google, Battelle points out, "makes a mint from selling paid links on its own site, where it keeps all the revenue." Google also sells its paid results to AOL, Amazon.com, Disney and other sites. According to Battelle, this is an advertising model that could work on smaller niche sites as well. For example, a site targeted to knitting aficionados could generate some income by displaying advertising links for yarn companies, sellers of crafts books, etc. Rather than annoying the people who browse your website, advertising like this could actually be useful. - SK
Friedman, Raymond A., and Steven C. Currall. "E-Mail Escalation: Dispute Exacerbating Elements of Electronic Communication" Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University (http://www.mba.vanderbilt.edu/ray.friedman/pdf/emailescalation.pdf). - Although this is a scholarly paper studded with footnotes and accompanied by an extensive bibliography, its message is fairly blunt: E-mail pretty much sucks as a communications medium when trying to resolve a dispute. Those of us who have been using electronic mail since dinosaurs roamed the earth will not be surprised at this finding. We've all seen misunderstandings spiral out of control on mailing lists and possibly in our personal electronic communications. When powerful cues such as tone of voice and immediate response are missing from a verbal exchange, it's all too easy to take something the wrong way. Which is why, for example, satire can be dangerous in e-mail. Friedman and Currall define the properties of e-mail and describe what constitutes "conflict escalation." Because e-mail is a "low feedback" communications medium, parties to a conflict are not getting the information they need about their adversaries' reactions. And this void can make a bad situation worse. The authors conclude that "e-mail is not the preferred way to manage disputes -- there are too many risks. If there is an option to walk down the hallway or make a phone call, that is generally preferred." However, these options are not always available. If e-mail must be used in situations like this, participants to a dispute must be more "self-aware." These tips are offered: don't be so quick to interpret something as an insult; monitor your reactions for "enhanced aggressiveness"; think through what you've written and parse it for possible misinterpretations before hitting the send key; keep in mind the actual relationship you have with the recipient of your message -- i.e., that's a live person on the other end; don't overreact to anything you read; aim for a large number of interactions that include a single argument rather than "bundling large numbers of arguments together," which may overwhelm the other person. - SK
Lipow, Anne Grodzins. The Virtual Reference Librarian's Handbook New York, NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 2003. - Virtual reference, that is to say, "live reference" over the Internet, has been a hot topic at many conferences this past year. Anne Grodzins Lipow evaluates the challenges and opportunities in her typcially pragmatic fashion, so this a good book for practitioners with little time to spare. The book is organized to provide readers with everything they need to get started, ranging from checklists to strategic considerations. Its particular strength is in helping readers to examine their own institutional environments realistically, and craft programs that can succeed within the limitations imposed upon them. The final chapter, covering marketing and promotion, is especially strong, and challenges information professionals to follow through on this vital (but rarely taught) function. Lipow makes the point that we all know we "should" promote services, but all too often we relegate marketing and promotion to a one-shot effort that is not sustained. Reference providers will find not only good tools and checklists in this volume, but also a surfeit of challenging and innovative perspectives on strategic planning. - TH
Mihalega, Anna Maria, and Edward A Galloway. ""Your Collection Is Online and the Honeymoon's Over: NOW WHAT?" " Computers in Libraries 23(6) (June 2003): 26. - Healthy reminder that part of the maintenance of any digitization project is dealing with the public. This is particularly true with projects on historical subjects such as the one mentioned here on Historic Pittsburgh. The authors discuss the kind of email traffic they receive and how it is handled. This kind of attention on the part of the public, particularly from genealogy enthusiasts, can be exacting in unexpected ways such as when census data went up on their site with less than 100% accuracy. How the team dealt with this and other challenges addresses an important point for all institutions, namely, the extent of our responsibility to the public for the material we make available online. - LRK
Samuelson, Pamela. "Mapping the Digital Public Domain: Threats and Opportunities" Law and Contemporary Problems 66(1 and 2) (Winter/Spring 2003): 147-171. (http://www.law.duke.edu/shell/cite.pl?66+Law+&+Contemp.+Probs.+147+(WinterSpring+2003)). - In this article, noted legal scholar Pamela Samuelson presents a "map" of the public domain, provides an in-depth examination of threats to it in the digital environment (e.g., the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, the Collections of Information Anti-Piracy Act, the Copyright Term Extension Act, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act), and discusses ways to foster the "digital commons." The analysis of threats is the largest and most interesting section of the article, and it weighs the relative threat level of the laws and bills and points out that the they do not stand alone--there are "potential synergies" between them that further endanger the public domain. In the paper's conclusion, the author highlights the importance of appropriate action by Congress, state legislatures, and the courts to preserve the public domain; indicates that the public can always "just say no to licensing and to technically protected content"; and emphasizes that public domain and fair use advocates need a "positive agenda" that "should be grounded on the realization that information is not only or mainly a commodity; it is also a critically important resource and input to learning, culture, competition, innovation, and democratic discourse." (This article is part of a special issue on the public domain that includes twelve other articles.) - CB
Smith, Abby. New-Model Scholarship: How Will It Survive? Washington, D.C.: Council on Library and Information Resources, March 2003. (http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub114/contents.html). - Web-based scholarly resources and related digital objects comprise the 'new-model' referred to in the title, and the 'survival' is of the long-term, archival variety. Such resources created by faculty and students have generally been shaped by the immediate goals for the particular project, and frequently the planning necessary for future preservation in a digital archive has been overlooked. In this report Abby Smith, director of programs at the Council on Library and Information Resources, examines current problems in digital stewardship. She describes the genesis of three projects (MIT's History of Recent Science and Technology, George Mason University's Center for History and New Media, and the University of Virginia's Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities) as case studies, contrasting those factors which facilitate or discourage their incorporation and accessibility in an archive. After a discussion of the issues to be addressed in deciding what to preserve and how to do it, she looks at organizations which are engaging in such preservation, including universities, publishers and government agencies. This thorough report is worth reviewing by those already involved in digital libraries and very valuable for those just getting started. With bibliography and website references. - JR
Thirunarayanan, M.O.. "From Thinkers to Clickers: The World Wide Web and the Transformation of the Essence of Being Human" Ubiquity: an ACM IT Magazine and Forum 4(11) (May 13-19, 2003) (http://www.acm.org/ubiquity/views/m_thirunarayanan_8.html). - The premise of this short article is that people are becoming robotic clickers rather than thinking beings. Information is instantly available on the world wide web, only a click away. When books had to be read in order to arrive at answers, the slowness of the task led people to think their way through problems. Often solutions were found just by thinking out the problem. Now clicking preempts thinking The vastness of the web, distracting ads, broken links, and other distractions lead to endless and mindless clicking. "...hyperclick hysteria sets in, and people lose their bearings in cyberspace..." The author concludes his thesis on this sorry state of affairs by redefining human beings. He paraphrases Rene Descartes: "I click therefore I am" - MG
Zeldman, Jeffrey. Designing With Web Standards Indianapolis: New Riders, 2003. - Believe it or not, this is actually a good time to be involved in web development. Not financially, that's a disaster, but because of the point we're at in our understanding of what needs to be done and how we ought to go about doing it. Information architecture, usability, user-centered design and all the countless more specialized variations of the same are now standard to the development process. They lend a certain accountability to our design. What's more, they tend to mesh better with the visual and programming end of things (theoretically at least) and this more balanced approach is a welcomed alternative to all the grousing about each other's excesses in days gone by. This growing maturity is also reflected in the nuts and bolts of actually building a site which this book by Zeldman chiefly addresses. Time was when you pretty much had to hack your way to building a site. Either there were no standards or the standards (such as they were) were poorly implemented. This forced designers to design not to a single rule but to the countless vagaries of various browsers and browser versions. Such a predicament couldn't last forever. Eventually Zeldman and a number of other web designers and developers got together and formed the Web Standards Project (WaSP) that worked/cajoled browser makers to come out with more standards-friendly products. But that was only the first part. The second part was to show web designers and developers what actually could be accomplished using the tools so painfully won over. This crucial bit of advocacy was done not only through Zeldman's own site or the affiliated Alistapart.com but everywhere from glish.com to the interesting work of Chris Casciano. It's really a story of designers and developers picking themselves up by their bootstraps and moving an industry populated by the likes of Microsoft and AOL/Netscape towards more acceptable practices. It's a process that anyone having anything to do with web design and development can take pride in. It's also a process that's anywhere but complete. Zeldman's book is a survey of where we stand today. - LRK
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