Current Cites

November 2009

Edited by Roy Tennant

Contributors: Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Warren Cheetham, Alison Cody, Susan Gibbons, Peter Hirtle, Leo Robert Klein, Roy Tennant

Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Next Generation Connectivity: A review of broadband Internet transitions and policy from around the world [draft]  Boston, MA.: Berkman Center for Internet & Society, October 2009.( - Commonly known as the "Broadband Study", the purpose of this report was to look at "broadband deployment and usage throughout the world" for the FCC. The results are in and unfortunately we didn't do particularly well. In fact, the U.S. was relegated to "middle-of-the-pack performer" status, behind industrialized countries in Europe and Asia where the practice of "open access" to broadband networks by third party competitors is more prevalent. There's a good discussion of the results by Nate Anderson over at Ars Technica for those who don't have time to wade through the study's 200+ pages. In a press release following the closing of the FCC comment period, the communications people over at the Berkman Center wryly comment, "it seems as though our report created a mini stimulus act for telecommunications lawyers and consultants". - LRK

Bhatnagar, Alka. "Web Analytics for Business Intelligence: Beyond Hits and SessionsOnline  33(6)(Nov/Dec 2009): 32-35. ( - The world of web analytics is truly bustling as anyone who has ever toyed around with products like Google Analytics can tell you. The depth of information and what you can do with it are breathtaking. This isn't your father's Webalizer. But how do these metrics related to libraries? That's what the author asks and then proceeds to answer in this engaging introduction to the subject. - LRK

Jansen, Bernard J., Mimi  Zhang, and Kate  Sobel, et. al."Twitter Power: Tweets as Electronic Word of MouthJournal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology  60(11)(November 2009): 2169-2188. ( - Many libraries have jumped into social networking, using a variety of platforms to reach out to their patrons with news and information. Some have already started using the microblogging service Twitter, while others are still contemplating its usefulness. In this article, the authors look at how corporations can use Twitter as an extension of their branding activities. The authors used a variety of methods to analyze tweets from 50 brands over a three-month period. They found that on a weekly basis, most tweets about the brands were positive (60%) and about a quarter were negative sentiments. However, looking at the data for the entire time period, the researchers found that more than 80% of tweets mentioning these brands did not contain a sentiment. They were tweets that asked for or offered information, or mentioned the brand in passing. To more closely examine this phenomenon, the authors looked specifically at Starbucks' Twitter activity, and found that there was very little conversation between the Starbucks account and those of their followers (usually fewer than four tweets). While this demonstrates that Twitter may not be a medium for close management of customer relationships, it is a way for a company (or library) to find out how patrons are feeling about the library, and to reach out to those who post questions, complaints or compliments. - AC

Lascarides, Michael. "Infomaki: An Open Source, Lightweight Usability Testing Tool  (21 September 2009)( - Usability testing is a lot like exercise -- we all know it is good for us and yet many of us seem not to find the time to do it. Meanwhile, our user community is also likely not happy when faced with online surveys that can take a significant period of time to complete. These reasons make Infomaki a perfect solution for usability testing without pain for either the organization or the user. Infomaki is an infrastructure that enables organizations to create and manage a database of survey questions and replies. Questions can be served up as one at a time and the user decides when they have had enough. Users can select to answer only one question or several. They New York Public Library, which developed the application, has been using it to gather thousands of replies to usability questions and has released their code as open source. - RT

Lavoie, Brian, and Lorcan  Dempsey. "Beyond 1923: Characteristics of Potentially In-copyright Print Books in Library CollectionsD-Lib Magazine  15(11/12)(November/December 2009)( - As copyright term has lengthened and more and more works remain protected by copyright, interest in the scope and nature of those works has increased. For example, Michael Cairns tried calculating the number of "orphan works" using data from Books in Print. Lavoie and Dempsey have the Worldcat database at their fingertips, and in this article they categorize the nature of the books printed since 1923 found in the database. They found lots of neat information, such as that there are 3.7 million unique authors of books published in the US since 1923, with children books author Carole Marsh being second to William Shakespeare in print manifestations. Until Google releases data on the books it has scanned, Lavoie and Dempsey's article provides the best suggestion of what the scope of the Google database may be. For students of publishing and library history, it offers a fascinating snapshot of twentieth-century practices. - PH

Pace, Andrew. "21st Century Library SystemsJournal of Library Administration  49(6)(August 2009): 641-650. ( - If you are embarking on the search for a new library management system, electronic resource management system, federated search tool or anything else in the library technology family, be sure to wave this paper under the nose of your non-techie library manager, and/or your non-library IT manager. It will provide a good introduction to where computerised library systems have come from over the last several decades, the current state of affairs (both in libraries and the general IT world) and some thoughts about the future. Be prepared to follow up with some other readings and information about some of the things Pace touches on, like Cloud Computing and software-as-a-service (SaaS). - WC

Samuelson, Pamela. "New Google Book Settlement Aims Only to Placate GovernmentsThe Huffington Post  (17 November 2009)( - The amended Google Book Search settlement (Zip file) has hardly silenced the deal's critics. In this article, Samuelson, who is a Professor at the University of California at Berkeley's Law School and its School of Information, outlines and critiques the major changes in the settlement, which she says "were overwhelmingly made to placate the governments of France and Germany, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)." Whether these parties are placated or not, Samuelson still has significant objections to the settlement. For example, she says that: "Google will still get a de facto monopoly right to commercialize all out-of-print books, including the orphans, through the class action settlement process. No one else can get a comparable license, and hence no one else can offer a comprehensive database of books to allow competition in the market for institutional subscriptions." For further analysis of the amended settlement, see Jonathan Band's A Guide for the Perplexed Part III: The Amended Settlement Agreement, Larry Downes' upbeat "Two Cheers for Google Books," and Fred von Lohmann's series of posts on the DeepLinks blog (1, 2, 3, and 4). - CB

Smith, Shannon D., Gail  Salaway, and Judith B.  Caruso. The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2009  Boulder, CO: EDUCAUSE, 2009.( - Since 2004, the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (ECAR) has been publishing annual studies of undergraduate students and information technology. If this annual publication is not yet required and anticipated reading, it really should be. This year's study represents the participation of 30,616 students from 115 U.S. colleges and universities. The study provides quantitative confirmation of trends that you may have already been observing or have encountered through anecdotes. For example, more than half of the responding students own an Internet-capable mobile device or that student computer ownership has quickly shifted from desktops to laptops. The complete report, which is just over 100 pages, is an easy read, but if time is short, there is a 13-page summary available as well. - SG

Suber, Peter. "Knowledge as a Public GoodSPARC Open Access Newsletter  (139)(2009)( - A key argument for open access is that knowledge is a "public good." But what is a public good? Suber identifies two primary features of a public good: (1) it is "non-rivalrous," and (2) it is "non-excludable." A good is non-rivalrous when users can consume it "without depleting it or becoming 'rivals'." A good is "non-excludable" when "consumption is available to all, and attempts to prevent consumption are generally ineffective." Suber then argues that knowledge inherently has these characteristics and that scholarly digital texts that embody knowledge could have them: "With the right equipment we can all have copies of the same digital text without having to take turns, block one another, multiply our costs, or deplete our resources. . . . For the first time in the history of writing, we can record our non-rivalrous knowledge without turning it into a rivalrous material object." However, copyright law and copyright-holder access restrictions limit the promise of digital texts as public goods unless there is copyright-holder consent to make them freely available. Retention of copyright and self-archiving by scholarly authors as well as funder and institutional open access mandates help achieve this promise. A restructuring of scholarly publishing to a model where publishers provide open access based remuneration that covers their costs plus a reasonable profit margin also helps achieve this promise: "As the PLoS [Public Library of Science] analogy of publishers as midwives always suggested, the idea is to stop the midwife from keeping the baby, not to avoid paying for services rendered." - CB

Wyld, David C. Moving to the Cloud: An Introduction to Cloud Computing in Government  Washington, DC: IBM Center for The Business of Government, 2009.( - The concept of "cloud computing" has been much in the news lately and yet it is easily misunderstood. This report, although aimed at a government audience, can serve as useful introduction to this concept for anyone. The first 15 pages or so are all that would be needed to get up to speed on what cloud computing is and why it might be an important development for virtually any organization. Those wishing to go deeper can read about the ten "major challenges" facing government implementation of cloud computing and the author's assessment of the future of cloud computing in government, including ten specific predictions. A tip for those printing this -- unless you want to study the references, only print the first 60 and skip the final 20. - RT