Current Cites

Volume 15, no. 1, January 2004

Edited by Roy Tennant

The Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720
ISSN: 1060-2356 - http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CurrentCites/2004/cc04.15.1.html

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

The 2003 OCLC Environmental Scan: Pattern Recognition   Dublin, OH: OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc., 2004. (http://www.oclc.org/membership/escan/). - According to the OCLC web site, this report "was produced for OCLC's worldwide membership to examine the significant issues and trends impacting OCLC, libraries, museums, archives and other allied organizations, both now and in the future. The scan provides a high-level view of the information landscape, intended both to inform and stimulate discussion about future strategic directions." To produce it they reviewed the literature, performed research, and interviewed over 100 "knowledge experts" (full disclosure: I was one of them, go figure). Chock full of interesting statistics, challenging concepts, and good ideas, this 148 page glossy publication (or the version on the web site) is well worth studying. - RT

Albro, Edward N..  "The Linux ExperimentPCWorld.com   (February 2004) (http://www.pcworld.com/resource/printable/article/0,aid,113746,00.asp). - Microsoft Windows...the operating system so many of us love to hate. But what are the alternatives? Macintosh? Do you really want to move to another hardware platform? How about Linux...or is that just for geeks? Well, no...but having a geek pal or two to hold your hand is not an entirely bad idea, according to the author of this article, who "went on a Microsoft-free diet for four weeks." Read about his adventures in the land of open source and learn from his experiences if you've ever considered taking Linux out for a spin. Includes information on sorting through the different Linux distributions and choosing the best one for you. Points you to Web-based sources of assistance. Describes and evaluates some of the applications available for Linux. The author's verdict? He likes Linux computing, even if it requires more work on the part of the user. - SK

Atkinson, Cliff.  "Don Norman on PowerPoint Usability: Interview with Cliff Atkinson Sociable Media   (2004) (http://www.sociablemedia.com/articles_norman.htm). - Rebuttal of sorts to Edward Tufte's condemnation of PowerPoint as reported in Current Cites for August. Don Norman argues from the get-go that "PowerPoint is NOT the problem"; it's the presenter. Norman cautions that the tool should be used sparingly: "The best talks I have ever heard had no slides at all. The best talks I have ever presented had no slides." - LRK

Boynton, Robert S..  "The Tyranny of Copyright?The New York Times   (25 January 2004) (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/25/magazine/25COPYRIGHT.html ). - Students at Swarthmore College acquired several thousand emails and other correspendence among employees at Diebold Election Systems, the largest maker of electronic voting machine in the United States. Included were candid discussions about Siebold software and network vulnerabilities to hackers. The students felt, that this information should be available to the public via the internet, given the debacle of the 2000 presidential election. After posting the information, the students soon encountered the gag effect of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (D.M.C.A.). In an effort to protect intellectual property, this law, as well as others, are stifling the free expression of information, by holding the ISP liable for materials posted by its subscribers. Diebold confronted Swarthmore, charging that the students were infringing on copyright, and demanded that the material be removed from the students' Web page, on the Swarthmore College server. The College complied. This action, as well as numerous other well publicized lawsuits, have led to the organization of a protest movement known as Copy Left. They argue that the laws designed to protect intellectual property are in effect hampering free expression, creativity, and could utimately erode democratic freedoms. The battle that is emerging transcends the courts. It is a battle of different views of society. - MG

Cass, Stephen.  "A Fountain of KnowledgeIEEE Spectrum Online   (January 2004) (http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/WEBONLY/publicfeature/jan04/0104comp1.html). - IBM's WebFountain -- "half a football field's worth of rack-mounted processors, routers, and disk drives running a huge menagerie of programs" -- works to convert the vast sea of unstructured information roiling across the Internet into a structured format that is capable of being analyzed. The primary intent here is to package this information so it can be used by companies to make smarter, more timely business decisions. In a nutshell, IBM's technology "transforms unlabeled data into XML-labeled data." Software programs called "annotators" scan all the raw data looking for recognizable words and phrases and add appropriate XML tags. What this does is create more data -- the article indicates that by the time the annotators are through with a document, it can be 10 times the size of the original. Yikes. Fasincating stuff here. Using this technology, IBM researchers have already discovered that 30% of the Web is porn and 30% is duplicated information. 50,000,000 pages are changed or added to the Web each day. And although 65% of all Web pages are currently written in English, English pages will be in the minority by 2010. - SK

Cohen, Cynthia F., Stanley J.  Birkin, and Monica J.  Garfield, et. al. "Managing Conflict in Software TestingCommunications of the ACM   47(1) (January 2004):  76-81. (http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/962081.962083). - Developers are from Mars, testers are from Venus. That's the standard picture of these two groups, both essential to successful software development, who nonetheless are often known to work at cross purposes. The article does a good job of going over some of the differences: differences in attitude, role and approach. Better yet, it also offers excellent advice on diminishing these differences. Among the suggestions are developing common goals and expanded social contacts: "testers and developers who communicate only when problems occur lack a robust social fabric with which to smooth the process. Several testers and managers we interviewed indicated that social contact paved the way to better working relationships with developers." Note, this is one of several good articles in this month's CACM. - LRK

Crow, Raym. A Guide to Institutional Repository Software. 2nd ed   New York: Open Society Institute, 2004. (http://www.soros.org/openaccess/pdf/OSI_Guide_to_Institutional_Repository_Software_v2.pdf). - If you need a quick overview of institutional repository software options, try this brief guide from the Open Society Institute. It describes software that: (1) is open source, (2) conforms to the latest version of the OAI metadata harvesting protocols, and (3) is currently available for use. This includes ARNO, CDSware, DSpace, Eprints, Fedora, i-Tor, and MyCoRe. Each system is overviewed in a separate section, and then the features of all systems are compared in a detailed, lengthy table. - CB

Stacy-Bates, Kristine.  ""E-mail Reference Responses from Academic ARL Libraries: An Unobtrusive Study". "  Reference & User Services Quarterly   43(1) (Fall 2003):  59-70. - The article discusses an effort to determine e-mail reference quality by looking at the query responses. To do this, the author sent (relatively simple) reference questions to all 111 academic libraries in ARL. The responses "generally met orexceeded" expectations though accuracy varied. The author suggest making accuracy of response and consistent identification of the librarian making the response (e.g. name and job title) part of standard e-mail reference guidelines. - LRK

Tillett, Barbara. What is FRBR? A Conceptual Model for the Bibliographic Universe    Washington, DC: Library of Congress, Cataloging Distribution Service, September/October 2003. - At ALA Midwinter 2004 in San Diego, I picked up this piece as a color glossy reprint at the Library of Congress booth. When I returned home I fruitlessly searched their web site for a PDF, or even a way to order a paper copy. But since it is a reprint of a Technicalities article (September/October 2003, vol. 25, no. 5), perhaps you can find it there. And find it you should, if you don't know anything about IFLA's Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (known as FRBR, pronounced "ferber"). In this piece Tillett (who was involved with creating FRBR) explains FRBR concepts simply and understandably. However, it may not be possible to understand the full implication of FRBR without looking at a system that implements some of it concepts. Luckily, there is such a system available from the Research Libraries Group (RLG), called redlightgreen.com. So after reading Tillett's piece, go bang on redlightgreen.com and get a better sense of some possible implications for library systems. You may find, as I have, that FRBR presents us with some compelling possibilities. - RT

VRD 2003 Online Proceedings   Syracuse, NY: The Virtual Reference Desk, November 2003. (http://www.vrd2003.org/proceedings/). - If you're interested in digital reference, you should be all over this. Likewise, if you're not, you may have better things to do. These are (mostly) PowerPoint presentations from the 2003 Virtual Reference Desk Conference held in Austin, Texas in November. Presentations are grouped under the topic areas of Technology, Evaluation, Management, Staffing and Training, User Behavior, Information Literacy, Collaboration, General, and Vendor Demonstrations. - RT

Wittenborg, Karin, Chris  Ferguson, and Michael A.  Keller. Reflecting on Leadership   Washington, DC: Council on Library and Information Resources, December 2003. (http://www.clir.org/pubs/abstract/pub123abst.html). - I will admit to writing this review having read only part of this intriguing publication. But the part I have read is well worth paying the $15 to buy it, let alone firing up your web browser and getting it for free in either HTML or PDF. These very personal statements about leadership are likely to inspire a mix of emotions and thoughts in you. You will find comments with which you strongly agree, others that may challenge your preconceptions, and still others that will cast light on areas of the profession and your place in it that you have perhaps not considered before. Come to be enlightened, encouraged, and informed, but stay to be challenged to think about your own career and what role leadership plays in it. - RT


Current Cites - ISSN: 1060-2356
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