Current Cites

Volume 15, no. 2, February 2004

Edited by Roy Tennant

The Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720
ISSN: 1060-2356 - http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CurrentCites/2004/cc04.15.2.html

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

"A Dozen Primers on StandardsComputers in Libraries   24(2) (February 2004) (http://www.infotoday.com/cilmag/feb04/primers.shtml). - Ever been stumped by the frequent use of information acronyms, and needed a quick reference? What's a DOI? This feature article is a handy overview of current standards applied to information management. Each standard is presented under the following subheadings: Acronym, What it stands for, What is its purpose? Groups behind it, Does it replace or update a previous standard? What stage of development is it at? Pros and Cons. Included are: ARK, DOI, METS, MODS, NCIP, OAI-PMH, ONIX, OpenURL, RDF, RSS, Shibboleth, and SRW/SRU. Each standard is well defined, with examples of usage given. Additionally each norm description is presented by an expert on the subject. As well, the author's affiliation is included. This article is worth retaining for future reference, to be consulted when one encounters those ubiquitous standards in our professional reading. - MG

Beehner, Lionel.  "Lies, Damned Lies, and Googlemediabistro.com   (15 February 2004) (http://www.mediabistro.com/articles/cache/a1217.asp). - Google has morphed, among other things, into a tool for lazy journalists, who have come to consider the number of results from a simple keyword search to be an indicator of popularity. Surely you've read examples of great investigative reporting like..."When I typed the word ____ into Google, I got more than 10,000 hits!" The author indicates that Los Angeles Times reporters seem to be the worse offenders, although staff writers for the upscale New Yorker have also used this cheap trick. The article is rich in actual examples. Google's data, the author reminds us, "can be faulty, fleeting, and, as any doctoral student or fact checker knows, terribly inaccurate." It has reached the point, he notes, where "plugging Google in a story has become almost a telltale sign of sloppy reporting, a hack's version of a Rolodex." - SK

Boutin, Paul.  "Webmonkey, RIP: 1996 - 2004Wired (Online)   (17 February 2004) (http://www.wired.com/news/infostructure/0,1377,62300,00.html). - Chances are, if you needed to bone up on something technical during the latter half of the 1990's, you might have looked for a tutorial on Webmonkey. Things like figuring out the basics of Javascript, how to embed media or the finer points of tables and frames: if that's what you needed, Webmonkey had a tutorial for you. The quirky site, so nonchalant and earnest, inspired by the "with it" culture of its parent, Wired Magazine, fell victim to corporate restructuring this month courtesy of owner Terra Lycos. - LRK

Chudnov, Dan. Library Groupware for Bibliographic Lifecycle Management   (28 January 2004) (http://curtis.med.yale.edu/dchud/writings/blm.html). - Those familiar with Dan know him as charming guy with more good ideas in a good day than many of us have all year. Some of those ideas have spawned production services (e.g., jake), while others may have been a bit too far ahead of their time (e.g., Docster). But whether his ideas ever result in running code or not, they are almost always provocative. The stated purpose of this piece is to propose "that libraries could merge the functions of weblogging, reference management, and link resolution into a new library groupware infrastructure, helping users to better manage the entire lifecycle of the bibliographic research process." Wow. Why couldn't I have thought of that? - RT

Crawford, Walt.  "Library Access to ScholarshipCites & Insights: Crawford at Large   4(4) (March 2004):  1-5. (http://cites.boisestate.edu/civ4i4.pdf). - One of the many library and/or technology issues that commentator Walt Crawford tracks has become the "open access" movement in scholarly communication. This is all to the good, since he has a keen eye and a span of sources that surely is only achievable through lack of sleep and nothing better to do. I won't recount all of the developments he notes in this ongoing section of Cites & Insights, but suffice it to say that if you are interested in scholarly communication, and the changes it is undergoing, you could do much worse than tracking what Crawford and Suber (cited elsewhere in this issue of Current Cites) have to say about it. - RT

Gurstein, Michael.  "Effective Use: A Community Informatics Strategy Beyond the Digital DivideFirst Monday   8(12) (1 December 2003) (http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue8_12/gurstein/). - The author assesses the huge industries, both intellectual and cultural, that have sprung up to comment on the "digital divide". He evaluates the various concepts underlying the idea of this schism and its effect on the populace, and argues that it is mostly a marketing vehicle for technology firms and Internet service providers. He presents an alternative approach, which is to focus on "effective use." This idea is based in community informatics theory, which defines the Internet as a new force in culture and society that is not easily measured by conventional means. He argues that instead subsidizing technology providers, it would be more effective to tie the debate about the digital divide to real-world issues like health care delivery, the environment and concrete economic injustices. - TH

Huffaker, David.  "Spinning Yarns Around the Digital Fire: Storytelling and Dialogue Among Youth On the InternetFirst Monday   9(1) (5 January 2004) (http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue9_1/huffaker/). - Leaping into the cultural-meme business from the cusp of a decidedly MaCluhan-esque metaphor, the author argues that the practice of storytelling -- a key factor in early child development -- enjoys new life with digital media. He hypothesizes that online forums and virtual communities, including message boards, Weblogs and instant messaging software, create important spaces for youth to express ideas and feelings, discuss issues and projects, and develop their social skills. Along the way, he invokes Paolo Friere's work on the nature of student-teacher relationships. He goes on to examine the importance of dialogue and storytelling children's learning, matching standard teaching practices with scenarios that utilize digital technologies. He concludes this interesting exploration with examples of Weblogs and instant message forums that illustrate the potential of the Internet as a community builder. - TH

Jackson, Joab.  "Taxonomy's Not Just Design, It's an Art Government Computer News   23(3) (9 February 2004) (http://www.gcn.com/23_3/interview/24814-1.html). - This is an interview with Michael C. Daconta, director of Web and technology services for systems integrator APG McDonald Bradley Inc. in McLean, VA. He is "chief architect of the Defense Intelligence Agency's Virtual Knowledge Base, a project to compile a directory of Defense Department data through Extensible Markup Language ontologies." Previously, he created "a set of electronic mortgage standards for Fannie Mae" and, while in the Army, worked as a programmer on "combat and intelligence simulation software." He is a coauthor of The Semantic Web, published last year. In the interview, Daconta explains the concept of the semantic Web and the role XML will play in nudging the Web from its current human-readable nature to a machine-readable information network. He also discusses the right way and the wrong way to create a taxonomy, mainly that it cannot be done informally. And he talks about the Defense Intelligence Agency's use of the Virtual Knowledge Base, and how it may evolve in the future. - SK

McIver, Jr., William, William F.  Birdsall, and Merrilee  Rasmussen.  "The Internet and the Right to CommunicateFirst Monday   8(12) (1 December 2003) (http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue8_12/mciver/). - The authors assert that the emergence of the Internet challenges traditional conceptions of information rights, because it opens new territory that does not fit easily into the parameters that govern traditional media outlets. But the debate about information rights on the new medium tends to happen in a piecemeal fashion, governed by various stakeholders or professions with an interest in the process. They see a need to craft a more holistic framework that encompasses the entire spectrum of information rights, and the right to communicate in particular. To explore this concept, they define and differentiate between 'hard' and 'soft' laws. Hard laws are statutory and legislative, while soft laws are less binding, and exist in the form of charters, declarations and guiding principles. They examine how the right to communicate can be implemented in realistic terms, arguing that a grass roots movement is necessary to push society to create a process for defining information rights. - TH

Quinn, Laura S. "Designing for Limited ResourcesBoxes and Arrows (12 January 2004) (http://www.boxesandarrows.com/archives/designing_for_limited_resources.php). - Boxes and Arrows is an online journal. The stated mission is "the definitive source for the complex task of bringing architecture and design to the digital landscape." In the January 2004 issue, Laura Quinn, a technology strategy and information architecture consultant has developed an article that brings the web developer into the real world of cost constraints. She states that web artisans should develop websites the way that IKEA builds furniture. The company "designs the price tag first." Towards the end of the article she includes the IKEA vision as stated on their website: http://www.ikea.com/about_ikea/our_vision/better.asp Paragraph headings include: "Understanding your limitations," "Long-term impacts," and "Guerilla requirement definition." Within each heading the author further includes key budgetary issues that have to be addressed. There is nothing revolutionary in this article. It is however, a sobering checklist of important issues to be considered by those starting out. - MG

Ronan, Jana, Patrick  Reakes, and Gary  Cornwell.  "Evaluating Online Real-Time Reference in an Academic Library: Obstacles and Recommendations"  The Reference Librarian   78/79 (2002/2003):  225-240. - It's about time we started developing ways to assess chat reference. That's the argument the authors present here. Chat reference systems are relatively wide-spread and there is growing comfort with the technology. The authors present a broad overview of the current state of assessment, going over both problems and possible solutions. Among their recommendations is using traditional methods of measuring reference performance where possible and treating user feedback and usage statistics with a grain of salt. I'd only add, that the guidelines ought to incorporate some mechanism for assessing the technology as well as the humans involved. In other words, whether the tools and options are truly living up to expectations. This is completely appropriate (though often overlooked) given the tech-driven nature of the service. Note, this article is only one of several on chat reference in this issue. Other articles include broad overviews of the service, case studies and even tips. - LRK

Suber, Peter.  "Open Access Builds MomentumARL: A Bimonthly Report on Research Library Issues and Actions from ARL, CNI, and SPARC   (232) (February 2004) (http://www.arl.org/newsltr/232/openaccess.html). - The Open Access movement had a big year in 2003, and, in this article, Peter Suber, author of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, provides a concise overview of the highlights, including the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing, the Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action by the U.N. World Summit on the Information Society, the Directory of Open Access Journals, PLoS Biology (published by the Public Library of Science), Scientific Publishing: A Position Statement by the Wellcome Trust in Support of Open Access Publishing, and more. Miss any of that? This is a good way to quickly catch up on major events related to this rapidly changing and increasingly important movement. - CB


Current Cites - ISSN: 1060-2356
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