Current Cites

Current Cites, February 2006

Edited by Roy Tennant

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

code4lib Conference 2006  Corvallis, OR: code4lib, 15-17 February 2006.( - The code4lib Conference was put together by a group of tech-savvy librarians who hang out in the code4lib chatroom and mailing list in literally a matter of a few months. This is the first in what they hope to be an annual event, aimed at those with a need for a more technical conference than the usual library fare. Here you can see what these folks are thinking about, what they use, and what they think is good and bad, and perhaps get an early taste of what's to come in your own library someday. Given that the conference only occurred a matter of days before this publication went to press, not all the presentations are yet available. But more will be added in the coming days, and several of the program descriptions link out to web sites that provide more information. Full disclosure: I was on the program committee. - RT

Bailey, Jr., Charles W. "What is Open Access?Open Access: Key Strategic, Technical, and Economic Aspects  (7 February 2006)( - In this preprint of a book chapter to be published by Chandos Publishing this year, Current Cites' own Charles W. Bailey, Jr. explains and summarizes the "Open Access" movement within the scholarly and research communities of higher education. Bailey begins with defining open access by reference to definitions from several key documents such as the Budapest Open Acess Initiative. Following this is a definition of the subset of open access activities called "self-archiving" by its main proponent Stevan Harnad. The next section deals with open access journals. For more information, readers are directed to the author's Open Access Webliography, an essential resource in the field. Given the goals of this particular book chapter, those familiar with the open access movement will be familiar with much of what Bailey covers, but for someone new to the issue it is an excellent summary of key issues. - RT

Dean, John W. "Why Should Anyone Worry About Whose Communications Bush and Cheney Are Intercepting, If It Helps To Find Terrorists?FindLaw  (24 February 2006)( - According to a statistic quoted in this column, "The NSA is now eavesdropping on as many as five hundred people in the United States at any given time." That is one heck of a lot of data; experts assume the NSA is indulging in data mining, which the author defines as "the use of computer algorithms to search automatically through massive amounts of data." A huge problem with data mining, of course, is the number of false positives. Which ups the potential for innocent people to get caught in the net. Maybe you're one of those folks who isn't worried about things like this because you "have nothing to hide." But the very idea of the government amassing huge amounts of personal data on its citizens is troubling. Says the author, "Many people trust the government not to abuse or misuse this information. Based on experience, I don't." He knows from whence he speaks. If you're old enough to remember Watergate, you likely remember John Dean as counsel to President Nixon. - SK

Garrett, Jeffrey. "KWIC and Dirty? Human Cognition and the Claims of Full-Text SearchingJournal of Electronic Publishing  9(1)(February 2006)( - Diatribe against the evils of keyword searching. Complaints include not allowing for context or metaphor. Works are like "organisms" and plucking out KWICs is to deracinate them and to "carry them away from their native settings with some additional word material still clinging to them, like dirt to roots." Keyword results produce a lack of coherence "fundamentally at odds with natural patterns of knowledge acquisition." The facts are disassociated and resemble "garbage heaps" of knowledge. You may not agree with the proposition but you'll be swept off your feet by the literary allusions, and that ought to count for something. One of several articles in the newly resuscitated Journal of Electronic Publishing. The journal is now published by UMich's "Scholarly Publishing Office" and the article by Maria Bonn on their model of scholarly publishing is also worth a read. - LRK

Hahn, Karla. "The State of the Large Publisher Bundle: Findings from an ARL Member SurveyARL Bimonthly Report  (245)(April 2006)( - Academic libraries have long been familiar which what has been termed "the big deal" (most notably by Kenneth Frazier in a 2001 D-Lib Magazine article) -- large conglomerations of electronic resources sold as a bundle. This means libraries either get everything or nothing from a particular publisher. Such an inability to cancel individual titles puts additional pressure on libraries to cancel unbundled titles to compensate. Therefore, to find out more about the big deal and libraries response to it, ARL conducted a survey in 2005. There is much of interest here for anyone interested in licensing resources for academic libraries, but in a nutshell ARL believes that libraries can advocate for better license terms without unduly reducing publisher profit. - RT

Jacobs, Neil. "Digital Repositories in UK Universities and CollegesFreePint  (200)(2006)( - In 1993, the UK did a smart thing: it established the UK Joint Information Systems Committee (or JISC for short). Since then, JISC-funded technology projects have kept UK academic libraries on the cutting edge of innovative networked services and technologies. Little wonder then that UK libraries have been leaders in the rapidly evolving movement to develop institutional repositories and other types of digital archives. As the manager the JISC Digital Repositories development programme, Neil Jacobs knows this important work well, and, in this article, he provides a link-packed, amazingly compact bird's-eye view of it that is authoritative and highly readable. Don't just zip through the short text. Rather, take the time to explore the numerous project links. You'll be glad that you did. - CB

Rusbridge, Chris. "Excuse Me... Some Digital Preservation Fallacies?Ariadne  (46)(February 2006)( - In this tenth-anniversary issue, Rusbridge takes on some digital preservation assertions or assumptions that he believes underlies many of the preservation discussions happening today. They are: 1) digital preservation is very expensive, 2) file formats become obsolete very rapidly, 3) interventions must occur frequently, 4) digital preservation repositories should have very long timescale aspirations, 5) 'Internet-age' expectations are such that the preserved object must be easily and instantly accessible in the format de jour, and 6) the preserved object must be faithful to the original in all respects. After arguing with these assumptions, he restates them at the end of the piece as: 1) digital preservation is comparatively inexpensive, compared to preservation in the print world, 2) file formats become obsolete rather more slowly than we thought, 3) interventions can occur rather infrequently, ensuring that continuing costs remain containable, 4) digital preservation repositories should have timescale aspirations adjusted to their funding and business case, but should be prepared for their succession, 5) "Internet-age" expectations cannot be met by most digital repositories; and, 6) only desiccated versions of the preserved object need be easily and instantly accessible in the format de jour, although the original bit-stream and good preservation metadata or documentation should be available for those who wish to invest in extracting extra information or capability." - RT

Sohn, Gigi. "Don't Blow It, CongressCNET  (6 February 2006)( - "Net neutrality" isn't exactly a phrase that immediately stirs the blood. In fact, it might evoke a "so what?" mental yawn. But, a closer look suggests that the future of the Internet as a digital medium that supports vigorous innovation and free-flowing information may be at stake. Here's how EDUCAUSE defines the term in its useful Net Neutrality Web page: "'Net neutrality' is the term used to describe the concept of keeping the Internet open to all lawful content, information, applications, and equipment. There is increasing concern that the owners of the local broadband connections (usually either the cable or telephone company) may block or discriminate against certain Internet users or applications in order to give an advantage to their own services." In this article, Gigi Sohn, President of Public Knowledge, lays out the case for Congress to enact legislation that will ensure Net neutrality in a rapidly changing telecommunications landscape. Will Congress enact such legislation? Maybe not, in spite of Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet, saying that without Net neutrality: "We risk losing the Internet as a catalyst for consumer choice, for economic growth, for technological innovation and for global competitiveness" (see "Politicos Divided on Need for 'Net Neutrality' Mandate"). Noted legal scholar Lawrence Lessig has also weighed in on the issue in his Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation testimony, which is also well worth reading. - CB