Current Cites

Current Cites, May 2005

Edited by Roy Tennant

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

Digital Library Federation Spring Forum 2005  Washington, DC: Digital Library Federation, April 2005.( - Those interested in cutting edge library technologies, standards, and procedures would be well advised to pay attention to the presentations at the twice-yearly forums put on by the Digital Library Federation. This one is no exception, with presentations ranging from digital repositories to METS records and OAI harvesting. Library techies are sure to find something of interest here, as well as library administrators who want to know what's coming up next. - RT

Blumenthal, Ralph. "College Libraries Set Aside Books in a Digital AgeThe New York Times  (13 May 2005)( - As of mid-July, the undergraduate library at the University of Texas-Austin will be devoid of books. It is being transformed into "a 24-hour electronic information commons, a fast-spreading phenomenon that is transforming research and study on campuses around the country." The reason this is a "fast-spreading phenomenon" is that undergraduate libraries are becoming superfluous in an age when so much full-text material has migrated online, and "top research libraries" are no longer restricted only to graduate students and faculty. The information commons, like others of its type, will be "staffed with Internet-expert librarians, teachers and technicians." And yet, according to the article, "Library staff members said they were taken by surprise when told last month of the conversion, which is how the news first emerged." Apparently no jobs were lost, however, and the books were not discarded, but rather redistributed to other university libraries. The article says librarians in general are in favor of this trend, because it allows them to provide the kind of service their users are increasingly demanding. - SK

Brent, Doug. "Teaching as Performance in the Electronic ClassroomFirst Monday  10(4)(4 April 2005)( - Brent takes an analytical look at the increasingly subtle and complex relationship between teaching and teaching technology. Pedagogy today, he argues, would be recognizable by teachers 500 years ago. Moreover, the culture of teaching retains a reticence to embrace technology. At the same time, new developments in online educational technology have a profound effect on notions of intellectual property. Drawing on Walter Ong's research on the alphabet, and Shoshana Zuboff's research on managerial knowledge as commodity, he depicts the challenge for teachers as a tension between the paradigm of knowledge as performance, and knowledge as thing. The performance paradigm emphasizes the human agents, whereas knowledge as "thing" (read: textual tools) follows longstanding emphases on curricula. Whichever social group wins the paradigm battle -- performance versus text -- will have great influence on the future relationship between classroom teaching and technology design. - TH

Corrado, Edward M.. "The Importance of Open Access, Open Source, and Open Standards for LibrariesIssues in Science and Technology Librarianship  (42)(Spring 2005)( - This is a good summary overview of three important concepts for libraries: open access to scholarly and research literature, software for which the source code is available for users to view and change, and standards that are developed and shared in a non-proprietary manner. Corrado argues that the confluence of these three "opens" provides synergistic benefits for libraries when used together. For those who want a gentle introduction to these "hot" topics, and find the religious fervor of some advocates off-putting, this is the piece to read. - RT

Davis, Marc, et. al."MMM2: Mobile Media Metadata for Media SharingAuthor's website  (April 2005)( - Information management for information that won't stay put - that's often the point at which many librarians say "that's not me." How people create and share their own information is certainly something that we need to be aware of, though, and the popularity of digital imaging can't be denied. With mobile phones becoming a global platform for sharing images, this work by Marc Davis and his colleagues deserves your attention. The brief paper, presented at ACM's CHI 2005 conference, describes a mobile metadata scheme for cameraphone pictures in which metadata information can be initiated at the point of capture, and then augmented through the process of sharing. That process is facilitated with a prototype mobile browser interface which can integrate preset lists of recipients with a "co-presence" list of Bluetooth-sensed mobile users. Thus, as the authors wrote, "sharing and metadata could be used in a mutually reinforcing way," which addresses a fundamental aspect of personal information usage that goes beyond cameraphones. It's not yet at the point where public adoption of the system has been assessed; readers should keep in mind that the stats showing field test success result from use by his own grad students. At Davis' website ("Garage Cinema Research: To Enable the Billions of Daily Media Consumers To Become Daily Media Producers") you'll find related work on personal media production, collaboration and management. - JR

Gast, Matthew. "Top Ten 802.11 Myths of 2005O'Reilly Wireless DevCenter  (2 May 2005)( - Gast, author of 802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition, points out inaccuracies he sees in media coverage of wireless technologies. These include security issues, confusion over different flavors of 802.11x, and wireless LAN issues. Some of this stuff is a bit on the geeky side for the average reader, but the article is relatively brief and touches on things you may have heard about, such as AirSnort and WEP. - SK

Givler, Peter. "Association of American University Presses Letter to GoogleBusiness Week Online  (20 May 2005)( - Google has received a great deal of notice for its "Print" and "Library" projects, which seek to digitize or obtain from publishers the full-text of books, then provide full-text searching and limited display of these works. Everyone agrees that the legality of such efforts is murky at best, and this latest salvo in the debate is one that Google can ignore only at its peril. There aren't many deeper pockets out there in the area of intellectual property law, and many a career can be made on a high-profile suit alleging major copyright infringement. This AAUP letter outlines 16 sets of serious questions for Google management, and ones that may presage legal action if not adequately answered. It did not escape this reader that the AAUP letter includes a deadline of June 20, 2005 by which Google is expected to respond, and I doubt Google's legal counsel is so dense as to overlook that either. - RT

Hagedorn, Katerina. "Looking for PearlsResearch Information  (16)(March/April 2005)( - The Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting has made it possible to federate access to hundreds of content repositories world wide. But as the earliest and largest federation service, OAIster at the University of Michigan is the most experienced in the problems of unifying access to such a diverse range of content. Hagedorn identifies issues with the data they harvest, some normalization procedures they apply, and future plans for the service. - RT

Jacsó, Péter. "Google Scholar: the Pros and the Cons"  Online Information Review  29(2)(2005): 208-214. - In case you haven't heard enough about Google Scholar, here's an analysis of what it does and doesn't do. In fine librarian tradition, Jacsó subjects the database to a battery of searches. He then compares these results with what he'd get using alternative sources. The picture isn't pretty. - LRK

Pennock, Lea, and Rick  Bunt. "Whose System Is It, Anyway? Partnering with Faculty in Administrative System ProjectsEDUCAUSE Quarterly  28(2)(2005): 24-31. ( - Librarians are no strangers to projects that require buy-in from the institution at large. That's why this article about planning and implementing a new Student Information System at the University of Saskatchewan may strike a few chords. The authors report on a successful effort, still underway at the time of writing, of moving a large project forward in the unique circumstances of a large academic institution. They worked to get everyone on board, hired outside consultants when necessary, and generally tried to maintain a "perception of accomplishment, productivity and achievement". - LRK

Poynder, Richard. "The Role of Digital Rights Management in Open Access INDICARE Monitor  2(2)(2005)( - This is a very important paper for librarians and open access advocates to read. The negative view of Digital Rights Management (DRM), which I confess to holding, is that it is like a silent, deadly cancer that one discovers too late. We are largely unaware of it because publishers have not widely chosen to utilize it to actively control scholarly articles yet. But, once DRM is put in place, it allows publishers to control how article files are used in fine-grained ways, regardless of whether they are on the publisher's server, the user's PC, or in an archive or institutional repository. Poynder suggests that DRM is like "a two-layered cake. . . . the first layer consists of metadata that define the usage rules (rights) associated with the content. Then on top of this can be placed an (optional) second layer of software-imposed limitations on copying, printing, viewing etc. (i.e. technical measures) in order to enforce the usage rules." To control self-archived articles, publishers would ask authors to archive DRM-protected copies, which "would potentially become a Trojan horse capable of transforming OA articles into 'pay-per-view objects'." Think this is unlikely? According to Poynder, Springer Science+Business Media currently "invites" authors to purchase the PDFs of their articles, which have been protected by DocuRights. Poynder does not say that Springer has activated particular restrictions, but they could at some future point. As long as a publisher controls the copyright to the article, not the author, the publisher can mandate that its DRM-protected copy of the article be the self-archived final copy, and it can choose what restrictions are activated. What if publishers could remotely turn on restrictions at will? SoftVault Systems holds patents that "specifically claim technology that enables the remote activation and disablement of digital content, such as audio, video, text, data and image files." So what to do? The SPARC Author's Addendum modifies "the publisher's agreement to make explicit the fact that the author is retaining sufficient rights to self-archive, and to also require that the publisher provides a free PDF version of the article--moreover, with no DRM functionality incorporated into it." Of course, authors can also attempt to retain copyright. But either strategy may imperil the publication of the author's paper. OK, enough gloom. Poynder also points out that DRM can be used for the author's benefit "to ensure correct author attribution, to certify document integrity and provenance, to prevent plagiarism, and indeed to enable creators assert their rights in ways that encourage--rather than restrict--access." (This issue also contains several other articles about DRM issues that will be of interest.) - CB

Shirky, Clay. "Ontology is Overrated: Categories, Links, and TagsClay Shirky's Writings About the Internet  (Spring 2005)( - Shirky is not a librarian, but he has a lot to say about library classification schemes. And most of it isn't complimentary. "One of the biggest problems with categorizing things in advance," he states, "is that it forces the categorizers to take on two jobs that have historically been quite hard: mind reading, and fortune telling. It forces categorizers to guess what their users are thinking, and to make predictions about the future." Catalogers in particular will want to come to this piece with as open a mind as they can muster, and wait on interjecting until reading through the entire piece. Shirky is well worth reading, because even if you don't agree, simply thinking through his points and carefully will likely make you think of more possibilities than you came to this piece with. And that alone is worth the price of admission. - RT

Sternstein, Aliya. "'Tomahtoes' Get in the Way of Saving E-RecordsFederal Computer Week  (23 May 2005)( - "When it comes to managing electronic records, technologists may say 'tomato,' but archivists will say 'tomahto.' The differences may seem subtle, but they often result in a breakdown in communications that undermines the effort to protect e-records." This is an interesting take on the disconnect between archivists and historians when it comes to the retention and preservation of electronic records, such as back-up tapes, e-mail, electronic calendars, etc. In particular, it discusses the uproar after the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) placed a notice in the Federal Register that it planned "to get rid of Clinton-era backup tapes." Of course, a large part of the whole e-records conundrum is that fact that the original software/media/hardware used to create the records may not be around anymore, which essentially renders the information inaccessible. Which brings IT people into the mix. Better communication among all parties concerned is obviously vital. - SK