Current Cites

Current Cites, April 2006

Edited by Roy Tennant

http://lists.webjunction.org/currentcites/2006/cc06.17.4.html

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


"University of Texas at Austin Investigates Computer BreachAssociated Press (via FindLaw)  (23 April 2006)(http://news.findlaw.com/ap/o/51/04-24-2006/24ef0006946f6d0c.html). - Stories like this are becoming all too common in the media these days. This one involves roughly 200,000 records at the university's business school which may have been illegally accessed. Apparently, this is the school's second major breach within three years. Meanwhile, in a survey released earlier this month, it was revealed that just 65 of the 236 institutions of higher learning surveyed offered privacy notices prominently linked from their home pages -- this despite the fact that nearly every school collects personal data, conducts e-commerce and otherwise engages in practices that present potential privacy risks. Does your library prominently post a privacy policy? (This particular story resonated with this writer because she was similarly victimized just this week, when a laptop belonging to her employer's health insurance provider containing personal data on 35,000+ employees was stolen from the automobile of one of the insurer's employees.) - SK

Bachula, Gary R.. "Testimony ... on Net NeutralityEDUCAUSE Resouce Center on Net Neutrality  (7 February 2006 )(http://www.educause.edu/LibraryDetailPage/666?ID=EPO0611). - Excellent testimony by Gary R. Bachula, vice President of Internet2, on Net Neutrality given before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. 'Net Neutrality' ensures that all content on the web is treated equally by "network operators" (generally the telephone companies or 'Telco's'). Recently the Telco's are trying to get Congress to loosen the reins a bit and allow them to implement "preferential" treatment of content from one source over content from another. Bachula puts the question in terms of traffic on a city street: "We know that when an ambulance or fire truck comes down a congested highway, everybody else has to pull over and stop. For emergencies, and for public safety, that is accepted, but what if UPS trucks had the same preference? Giving a preference to the packets of some potentially degrades the transport for everyone else." Using the example of his own Internet2, he argues that increasing overall bandwidth is far more cost-effective and friendly to innovation than setting up complicated and artificial service- and cost-structures. - LRK

Bills, David B., Stephanie  Holliman, and Laura  Lowe, et. al."The New Mobile Scholar and the Effective Use of Information and Communication TechnologyFirst Monday  11(4)(3 April 2006)(http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue11_4/bills/). - This rather large group of authors takes a closer look at how mobile information and communication technologies (ICT) can improve the lot of social scientists -- freeing them to move about with ready access to large datasets. Since data is the name of the game in the social sciences, they make a good point. But they find that a substantial percentage of social scientists lack the full array of skills needed to take maximum advantage of the access technologies at their disposal. Moreover, interoperatbility is also a steep barrier to the formation of effective work habits. They argue that in order to reach the full potential of ICT applications in the social sciences, a seamless web of interoperability is vital, something a "holy grail" for a lot of developers these days. In the present situation researchers find that they get bogged down in connectivity hassles. It's worth mentioning that many academics who perform lots of field work have created their personal "workarounds" to bypass the interoperability challenge (e.g., anthropologists and other who go to remote sites). But the authors are correct when they discover greater obstacles for social scientists. Still, social science research would receive a large boost if practitioners can become "mobile scholars" -- another point in the case for lifelong learning habits with respect to technology. - TH

Byrd, Jackie, Gary  Charbonneau, and Mechael  Charbonneau, et. al.A White Paper on the Future of Cataloging at Indiana University  Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Libraries, 15 January 2006.(http://www.iub.edu/~libtserv/pub/Future_of_Cataloging_White_Paper.pdf). - This is a report by a group "charged to identify current trends that will have a direct impact on cataloging operations and to define possible new roles for the online catalog and cataloging staff at Indiana University." Their one general conclusion after nine months of work is that "The need for cataloging expertise within the I.U. Libraries will not be diminished in the coming years. Rather, catalogers of the future will work in the evolving environment of publishing, scholarly communication, and information technology in new expanded roles. Catalogers will need to be key players in addressing the many challenges facing the libraries and the overall management and organization of information at Indiana University." The report also identifies five strategic directions. The report is an interesting read, and taken with the explosion of related reports (e.g., Calhoun's report to the Library of Congress cited in this issue, the UC Bibliographic Services TF Report), adds yet another perspective to the kinds of changes we must foster to create better library services in a vastly changed environment. - RT

Calhoun, Karen. The Changing Nature of the Catalog and Its Integration with Other Discovery  Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 17 March 2006.(http://www.loc.gov/catdir/calhoun-report-final.pdf). - In this report commissioned by the Library of Congress, Calhoun reviews the library catalog and its changing role amidst a new mix of finding tools and technologies. In preparing the report, Calhoun performed a literature review (largely focusing on the last five years) that informed the crafting of six questions that were used in interviews with selected individuals (full disclosure: I was one). The report identifies a number of options that Calhoun classifies in one of three categories of activities: lead, expand, and extend. A two-year phased approach to "revitalizing the research library catalog" is described. This report has caused some controversy -- particularly from the cataloging community which finds the de-emphasis on traditional library practice to be objectionable. But whatever position you may care to take, you would do well to read and consider the possibilities and implications of this report and other recent reports like it, such as the University of California Bibliographic Services Task Force Report and the White Paper on the Future of Cataloging at Indiana University (cited in this issue). - RT

Dempsey, Lorcan. "Libraries and the Long Tail: Some Thoughts about Libraries in a Network AgeD-Lib Magazine  12(4)(April 2006)(http://www.dlib.org/dlib/april06/dempsey/04dempsey.html). - You would probably have to live under a rock to have not heard about "the long tail," but if your back is holding up a stone I will leave it to Dempsey's piece to explain it to you. After discussing the general concept of the long tail, Dempsey looks closely at libraries and the implications of this concept to what we do every day. There is a great deal to ponder here, and those of us involved with getting users to stuff would do well to ponder it carefully. Dempsey makes some specific recommendations, but perhaps the most significant assertion is that "We need new services that operate at the network level, above the level of individual libraries." Although one could point to Dempsey's place of employment as a prime example of this, what he is suggesting would go far beyond our present sharing of cataloging records and ILL infrastructure and get at the heart of aggregating supply and demand. Apologies for an outworn cliche, but this is just the kind of "out of the box" thinking we need right now. - RT

Miller, Paul. "Coming Together around Library 2.0 : A Focus for Discussion and a Call to ArmsD-Lib Magazine  12 (4)(April 2006)(http://www.dlib.org/dlib/april06/miller/04miller.html). - Well, it was inevitable. First we had Web 2.0; now we have Library 2.0. The author defines this using a quote from a colleague as "an attitude, not a technology". This attitude encourages sharing of information and better integration not simply with other systems but with the "workflows" of our users. The author uses library holdings showing up on Amazon as an example but really the approach can be extended to any number of other Web 2.0 software and platforms. The author goes on to identify a trend that "moves beyond the reengineering of applications deployed within a single institution, or offered by a single vendor, and allows us to move towards a network-based Platform of subsystems encapsulating the functionality required by anyone wishing to construct the next generation of applications." Getting there, the author concludes, will require "dramatic change". - LRK

Quint, Barbara. "Windows Live Academic Search: The DetailsNewsBreaks & the Weekly News Digest  (17 April 2006)(http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb060417-2.shtml). - There's a new scholarly search engine in town: Windows Live Academic Search (beta version), and, in this article, Quint delves into its specifics (see "Microsoft Offers Alternative to Google Scholar: Windows Live Academic Search" for a quick overview). Microsoft sought the advice of librarians, information school faculty, publishers, and others during the development of Windows Live Academic Search, and it shows. Search results appear on the left-hand side of the screen, and an optional "preview pane" on the right-hand side can display a selected work's fielded abstract, BibTex formatted abstract, or EndNote formatted abstract. Search results can be sorted by relevance, date (oldest), date (newest), author, journal, and conference. A slider bar above the search results can expand or contract the amount of information that's shown for each hit. Another slider bar to the right of the search results can be used to easily scroll through them. And, of course, there are a number of other features. For now, the beta search engine is limited to about six million records for Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, and Physics journals and conferences. It includes e-prints (see my "A Simple Search Hit Comparison for Google Scholar, OAIster, and Windows Live Academic Search" DigitalKoans posting for a preliminary assessment of its coverage). As you would expect, the release of Windows Live Academic Search created quite a buzz in the blogosphere, and, shortly after its release, Google announced enhancements to Google Scholar. - CB

Shaker, Lee. "In Google We Trust: Information Integrity in the Digital AgeFirst Monday  11(4)(3 April 2006)(http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue11_4/shaker/). - Shaker chips away at the Google "mystique" by tracking how the New York Times reported on the company over a two year period. It turns out that Google's historic initial public offering and the trajectory of its stock price has as much to do with how favorably the company is regarded as its innovative search capabilities. He is essentially arguing that in the realm of mythmaking, money still talks. While one might be reluctant to discard the idea that Google's technological strategy also creates value and "myth," this article offers a great jumping-off point for thinking about information security and "trust" in the digital era. Moreover, he argues, if all it takes is fiscal successful to build customer loyalty and respect, then society has not yet begun to get to the heart of the matter when it comes to "information integrity." Google-watchers will enjoy this read, and the rest of us will appreciate the analysis of the relationship between success in the stock market, the power of marketing and "brand loyalty", and the public's perception of quality and trustworthiness. - TH

Wyatt, Edward. "The Bottom Line on E-TextbooksThe New York Times  (23 April 2006)(http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/23/education/edlife/innovate.html/partner/rssnyt?_r=1&oref=slogin). - Why have e-textbooks not "taken off" as an alternative to dead.tree volumes? Certainly, they are more portable. They are easily browseable, searchable, and now -- highlightable. And e-book publishers apparently have eliminated the most egregious complaints -- e.g., that the digital books "expire" after the academic year. Most publishers have done away with expiration dates. Granted, there are still limitations. An e-textbook can only be transferred to another computer registered to the same user...and students like to share. Also, there is usually a limit of 100 pages that can be printed out in a week. But there may be a simple economic reason behind the lagging popularity of e-textbooks. Although they are usually 40% cheaper to purchase than a new dead.tree version (and 20% cheaper than a used copy), e-textbooks cannot be resold. The article points out that roughly half of dead.tree textbooks are sold back to bookstores or to other students; typically, the original purchaser can thus recoup half of the original purchase price. - SK

von Lohmann, Fred. "The Season of Bad Laws, Part 2: Criminal Copyright Infringement, Drug War StyleDeepLinks  (25 April 2006)(http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/004586.php). - A draft copyright bill making the rounds in Congress is causing concern. Under the bill, an attempt to infringe copyright would be a criminal offense as would conspiracy to commit infringement. Law enforcement officials would have the "same criminal and civil forfeiture powers used in drug prosecutions," and wiretapping would be permitted in criminal infringement investigations. Prison terms would be significantly increased for criminal infringement. Works would no longer have to be registered prior to a criminal infringement investigation. Fred von Lohmann says about the bill: "Before they throw people in jail for copyright infringement (especially where the infringement does not involve a commercial motive), the feds should have to prove their case, just like copyright owners in civil cases. They should have to prove, among other things, that infringement took place, that it took place within the applicable statute of limitations, and that the work was properly registered." Also of interest, a short article about the new PERFORM Act (The Season of Bad Laws, Part 3: Banning MP3 Streaming), which "would effectively require music webcasters to use DRM-laden streaming formats." - CB