Current Cites

Current Cites, December 2006

Edited by Roy Tennant

http://lists.webjunction.org/currentcites/2006/cc06.17.12.html

Contributors: Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Leo Robert Klein, Roy Tennant


Editor's Note: I can't let it go by without remarking that this month's issue of RLG DigiNews announces the end, with the February 2007 issue, of the long-standing collaboration between the Cornell University Library and the Research Libraries Group (now part of OCLC) to produce that publication. As they say in their message to readers DigiNews will continue to be published by the OCLC Office of Programs and Research, but without the collaboration of the Cornell University Library. Anne R. Kenney deserves a great deal of credit for the reputation that this publication has achieved, as do her Cornell colleagues who have had their excellent work cited here and elsewhere. Thank you!

Coyle, Karen. "Mass Digitization of BooksThe Journal of Academic Librarianship  32(6)(November 2006): 641-645. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6W50-4M877GM-1/2/91673967ebebaf384a277c5579164041). - A very well done overview of mass and near-mass digitization of books by Google, the Open Content Alliance, Microsoft, Project Gutenberg, and many library-based projects. Coyle touches on issues such as workflow, output and book structure, user interface, standards, preservation, and scoping the project. If you're interested in this topic, this is the single best overview currently available. Highly recommended. - RT

Edwards, Cliff , and Moon  Ihlwan. "Upward MobilityBusinessWeek  (4 December 2006): 68-82. (http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_49/b4012071.htm?chan=top+news_top+news+index_technology). - If you think that the US is full of mobile communications junkies now, just wait. South Korea and Japan are leading the way to a new level of mobile service, and Motorola Chief Executive Ed Zander has taken to calling handsets "the device formerly known as the cell phone." The technological keys to this new kingdom will be WiMAX, fuel cell batteries, OLED screens, and near-field communications. Say what? Read the article to find out what these terms mean. - CB

Entlich, Richard. "The Missing Dimension in Web-based Museum Exhibitions: Obstacles to Adding Depth to Digital DataRLG DigiNews  10(6)(15 December 2006)(http://www.rlg.org/en/page.php?Page_ID=20999#article5). - This "FAQ" feature in RLG DigiNews "provides a brief discussion about the development of 3D technology on the World Wide Web, its adoption by museums, and the obstacles that continue to keep the creation, dissemination, and management of 3D imagery via the Web from becoming a fully mainstreamed activity." It provides a useful summary of 3D technologies such as VRML, QuickTime-VR, Shockwave3D, and others, along with examples of them in use. Although there have been various obstacles to the wide adoption of 3D technologies, the piece ends on a hopeful note with standards being solidified, high-capacity networks more widespread, and end-user computers gaining in capability for graphic rendering. - RT

Holt, Glen E. "Fitting Library Services Into the Lives of the PoorBottom Line  19(4)(2006): 179-186. (http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContentItem.do?contentType=Article&contentId=1576561). - As the title suggests, this relatively short article looks at delivering library services to the poor. This is the very definition of an underserved and underprivileged user group. For this reason, it's not enough to put library services on offer but rather to reach out and accommodate as much as possible the particular needs of low-income users. Hence the word "fitting" in the title. The author suggests a number of ways of doing this: convenient hours, points of service outside of the library, partnerships with other community organizations, spreading the word though PSA's and visibility at community events. There are limits to how far an institution can go but the author strongly suggests that more can be done. - LRK

Norman, Don. "Simplicity Is Highly OverratedJND.org  (2007)(http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/simplicity_is_highly.html). - This article has been making the rounds. It's by one of the great figures of design, Don Norman. His basic message is that cutting down on features is a losing proposition, that people want all the bells and whistles. I think the perspective is interesting and ought to be understood as a reaction to the "KISS" mantra made famous by everyone from usability guru Steve Krug to minimalist design firms like 37signals. That said, it's hard to say what impact this approach should have on design decisions, particularly on the Web. We're not buying products for ourselves after all but making them for others. If features in this context were so attractive, then 'Advanced Search' would be the first stop of even our most neophyte users. - LRK

Shirky, Clay. "Second Life : A Story Too Good to CheckValleywag  (12 December 2006)(http://www.valleywag.com/tech/second-life/a-story-too-good-to-check-221252.php). - A less than enthusiastic appraisal of the virtual world known as Second Life. Clay Shirky has been writing about the web for at least 10 years and he uses his experience to great effect as he challenges the greenhorns in his profession with lines like: "[T]he tech beat is an intake valve for the young. Most reporters don't remember that anyone has ever wrongly predicted a bright future for immersive worlds or flythrough 3D spaces in the past, so they have no skepticism triggered by the historical failure of things like LambdaMOO or VRML." This wealth of experience makes for an article that transcends a critique of a single phenomena, in this case Second Life, becoming instead an almost classic deconstruction of (in this case an Internet) mania. Having argued that participation in this online environment is far less than meets the eye, he concludes with one last eminently quotable line, "there's nothing wrong with a service that appeals to tens of thousands of people, but in a billion-person internet, that population is also a rounding error." - LRK

Suber, Peter. "Predictions for 2007SPARC Open Access Newsletter  (104)(2006)(http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/newsletter/12-02-06.htm#predictions). - Peter Suber has issued his 2007 open access predictions, and, as usual, they are well worth a read. Among his predictions: OA archiving policies by funding agencies and universities as well as institutional repositories will be unstoppable trends, reluctant publishers will be pushed to allow self-archiving at the same time that publishers who already permit it may try to dampen self-archiving activity with fees and/or embargoes, and new copyright problems will emerge (e.g., "Do machine-generated paraphrases of copyrighted texts infringe copyright?"). - CB

Weber, Jonathan. "Evergreen: Your Homegrown ILSLibrary Journal  (15 December 2006)(http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6396354.html). - A quiet revolution occurred this past Labor Day. Well over 200 Georgia libraries, all part of the PINES regional consortium, began using an open source integrated library system for the first time. The new system, dubbed Evergreen, was built from scratch by PINES programmers. The numbers are impressive -- the consortium has over 8 million items and over 1.5 million borrowers. Amazing enough, they can handle the load with approximately $250,000 of hardware -- which by their calculation is only a fraction of what a typical commercial system would require. This article by a contributor to the project introduces the system, its history, and its potential future. Its future may even include you, since it is being released as open source. - RT