Current Cites

Volume 15, no. 4, April 2004

Edited by Roy Tennant

ISSN: 1060-2356 -

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

Digital Library Federation Spring Forum 2004   Washington, DC: Digital Library Federation, April 2004. ( - Although you don't get to hear the speakers, or chat with them in the hall, or nosh on a deep-fried, sugar-dusted beignet, the presentation slides are the next best thing to being at the Digital Library Federation 2004 Spring Forum in New Orleans. David Seaman, the DLF Executive Director, made a concerted effort to "harvest" all of the presentations then and there, and put them up on the web literally within hours of their presentation. And you are hearing about them through Current Cites no more than a week after they were presented. Now that's current. But besides being current, these presentations often describe cutting-edge digital library projects, from extending the OAI harvesting protocol to accommodate distributed full-text searching of math monographs to XML-based book publishing and beyond, there is something here for just about everyone who is interested in where libraries are going. But although the meeting was held in The Big Easy, it was clear from a number of presentations that building digital libraries would be better characterized as The Big Difficult. - RT

Bausenbach, Ardie.  "Character Sets and Character Encoding: A Brief IntroductionRLG DigiNews   8(2) (15 April 2004) ( - Anyone who has worked with computers long enough has run into the character encoding issue. Even if you are able to get a non-English character to display appropriately on your computer, sending the file to someone else is likely to spell disaster for anything beyond the 256 characters identified in the ASCII character set. But thankfully help is near, in the form of Unicode. This excellent overview piece lays the groundwork and explains the issues related to depicting nearly 100,000 separate characters (about 70,000 of which are Chinese) from 55 writing systems. As Bausenbach explains, we are far from character encoding nirvana, but we're on the right track and making progress. Highly recommended for anyone needing a primer or refresher on these issues. - RT

Boutin, Paul.  "Can E-Mail Be Saved?InfoWorld   (16) (19 April 2004):  40-53. ( - "Battered by junk and reeling under makeshift fixes, e-mail is ripe for reinvention. Here's how six of the industry's most provocative thinkers envision a brighter day.... Our six experts gave us six different answers. But all of them agreed that positive identification, rather than rejiggered economics, is the key to clearing the clutter from the e-mail channel in the enterprise." Ideas from Eric Allman (author of Sendmail); Bill Warner (developer of the Wildfire voice system); Eric Hahn (former Netscape CTO; now CEO of own startup, Proofpoint); Ray Ozzie (creator of Lotus Notes; founder/CEO of Groove Networks); Dave Winer (chairman/founder of Userland and uberblogger); Brewster Kahle (creator of WAIS, Alexa; now head of The Internet Archive). - SK

Eden, Bradford Lee, editor.  "MARC and Metadata: METS, MODS, and MARCXML: Current and Future Implications"  Library Hi Tech   22(1) (2004) - It's a brave new world for bibliographic description, which this special issue of Library Hi Tech makes readily apparent. With articles contributed by a wide range of experts on topics like METS, MODS, EAD, and MARC, there is something he re for anyone interested in cataloging, metadata, and where the field is going. The editor of this issue, Brad Eden from the Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas, lined up so many authors for this issue that the contributions have been split into two issues, with t he second to follow in the summer. According to Brad, this next issue will look more to the future. [Full disclosure: I contributed a piece that will run in the next issue] - RT

Guterman, Lila.  "Scientific Societies' Publishing Arms Unite Against Open-Access MovementThe Chronicle of Higher Education   50(29) (26 March 2004):  A20. ( - Reacting to the growing influence of the open access movement, a group of scholarly not-for-profit publishers has issued the "Washington D.C. Principles for Free Access to Science." This document supports free access to selected important articles, to all articles either immediately or after an embargo period as determined by publisher policy, to scientists in developing nations, to reference linking systems, and to search engines for indexing. However, it does not support financing journals solely through author fees, and it does not address the issue of the relatively unfettered use of scholarly literature that the "Budapest Open Access Initiative" strongly advocates: "By 'open access' to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited." In addition to discussing the DC Principles, the article also briefly examines the new BioMed Central variable institutional fee structure (it was previously a flat fee determined by the size of the institution), which has its own controversial elements. - CB

Jones, William.  "Finders, Keepers? The Present and Future Perfect in Support of Personal Information Management First Monday 9(3) (1 March 2004) ( - Jones explores the impact of decisions to keep or discard the kind of personal data that accretes daily in our inboxes and Blogs -- spam, email, the weather, sports news and more -- together with critical information that has a longer term value. Since what seems mundane today may have strategic value tomorrow, this isn't such a lightweight matter, he says. What follows is interesting deconstruction of the process of parsing through 'stuff', which we often do unconsciously. Even though many information users don't focus on their habits, how we handle extraneous information is an essential part of personal information management, he argues. Bad decisions come in many flavors; keeping too much stuff can be as costly in time as keeping minimal backfiles. What's more, the wrong information competes for attention with more appropriate sources as tasks change during the day. He assesses decision support strategies such as reducing 'false positives' (keeping useless information), and avoiding 'misses' (not keeping useful information). This article is an interesting analysis of how the processes that surround the information cascade combine to take a substantial bite of our time. - TH

Knemeyer, Dirk.  "Jared Spool : The InfoDesign InterviewInfoDesign (April 2004) ( - Jared Spool is a hero of mine. He showed me that you could be an advocate of usability and a sensible human being at the same time. He did this by limiting himself to conclusions based on a thoughtful analysis of the facts together with enough flexibility to realize that different situations sometimes call for different approaches. All of these characteristics are on display in this infoDesign interview. - LRK

Michael, Sara.  "Making Government Accessible -- OnlineFederal Computer Week   18(11) (29 April 2004):  21-30. ( - Federal Computer Week and SSB Technologies, a developer of web-accessibility software and services, took a look at U.S. e-government initiatives with an eye toward whether these services were usable by disabled citizens. The results were not encouraging. "As the e-government initiatives near completion and gain a broader audience, none of the Web sites evaluated in our recent review were found to be entirely accessible to citizens with disabilities, as required by Section 508. Agencies clearly are committed to the spirit of the law but are struggling with the details." The article discusses Section 508 compliance and related requirements, accessibility pitfalls, and development and evaluation tools. - SK

TechWebNews. "Average PC Plagued With 28 Pieces Of SpywareInformationWeek (15 April 2004) ( - If you're responsible for public access PCs, this recently released report by ISP EarthLink and WebRoot Software will not be terribly shocking to you. During the first quarter of this year, the two companies examined more than one million computer systems and unearthed more than 29 million instances of spyware. Most of this nasty stuff was ad-related -- e.g., pop-up windows, ad tracking, etc. -- but more than 360,000 system monitors (which spy on user activity) and Trojans (which masquerade as something benign but which are actually destructive) were detected. "If spread equally across the scanned systems, that means one in three computers contains a system monitor or a Trojan horse." View the Earthlink Spyware Audit here. - SK

Udell , Jon.  "Firefox Fills the IE VoidInfoWorld   (19 March 2004 ) ( - Encomium on the open-source cross-platform Mozilla web browser currently known, perhaps inelegantly, as 'Firefox'. If you haven't had a chance to test-drive Firefox, Jon Udall goes over many of the reasons why you should. Feel free to download it at and while you're at it, have a look at the email application 'Thunderbird' too. - LRK

Current Cites - ISSN: 1060-2356
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