December 5, 2005

The Internet: A Historical Encyclopedia - Brief Review

.: The Internet: A Historical Encyclopedia, is an ambitious three-volume set published by ABC-CLIO. This encyclopedia is a "major expansion of the RUSA-award winning predecessor", History of the Internet: a Chronology, 1843 to the Present, by Christos J.P. Moschovitis, Hilary Poole, Tami Schuyler, and Theresa M. Senft. The 312 page title was one of the ALA's Reference and User Services Association's 2000 Outstanding Reference Sources. Rather than increase the size of the previous single volume, the editors and authors chose to separate the issues, history, and biography components into their own volumes for the 2005 edition.

Volume I: Biographies, was written by Laura Lambert, and contains 41 entries on 44 personalities critical to the development of the internet. Those chosen for inclusion are not limited to pioneers associated with technological developments only: for example, Lambert includes biographies of science fiction writers William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, lawyer and professor Lawrence Lessig, and of course, Marshall McLuhan. Other entries include noted hackers John T. Draper (Cap'n Crunch) and Kevin Mitnick, Napster founder Shawn Fanning, and the usual suspects: Bill Gates, Linus Torvalds, Tim Berners-Lee, Marc Andreesen, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Jeff Bezos, et al. Each entry is from 4-7 pages, and includes suggestions for further readings, works by the subject if available, books and articles about the subject, and related websites.

Volume II: Issues, was written by Chris Woodford, and has 35 entries on a wide range of topics, including: Activism and the Internet, Cookies, Cyberterrorism, Data Mining, Digital Libraries, E-books, Education and the Internet, Hackers, Internet Broadcasting, Online Communities, Open Source, P2P Networks, Spam, and Wireless Internet. At 283 pages, this is the largest of the three volumes, with entries between six and ten pages in length. For each entry, Woodford provides background, a brief history, trends, and controversies and responses. Sidebars include additional information. For example, the E-books entry includes sidebars on E-ink and SmartPaper, and E-book Horror Stories. Blogs did not warrant their own entry, but instead are included in the section, Journalism and the Internet. I was surprised that social software components such as instant messaging, social bookmarking and tagging, wikis, photo sharing, online interest groups, social networking, user forums, RSS, and even search engines such as Google and Yahoo, receive little coverage in this volume.

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May 19, 2005

Netscape 8 Released

:: John Battelle reports that Netscape 8.0 has been released, and that it combines features found in IE and Firefox. PC World calls it a two-headed browser, and gives it a mixed review. The AOL Press Kit for Netscape 8.0 is here, with the actual press release.

January 12, 2005

The Future of the Internet

:: From Pew Internet & American Life Project: The Future of the Internet.

:: My thanks, again, to Mary-Ann Tyrell at Michigan State U Libraries, for advising me that Bloglet was not sending out updates to the 175+ subscribers to STLQ via that service. I have no explanation as to why Bloglet arbitrarily decides to stop recognizing that STLQ is alive and well. I will be more vigilant in checking STLQ's status on Bloglet.

November 4, 2004

Scientific American Science & Technology Web Awards 2004

:: Scientific American's 2004 SciTech Web Awards were announced some time ago. Subcategories include engineering, astronomy, physics, chemistry, and biology.

September 27, 2004

Canada's Innovation Deficit

:: Michael Geist, Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law, University of Ottawa, has written a through-provoking and timely article in the Toronto Star about the innovation deficit in Canada. Next week in Canada, the Governor General will deliver the Speech From The Throne to begin the fall session in the Canadian House of Commons. Geist writes:

While the government will likely propose a plan to avoid a fiscal deficit, there are two other Canadian deficits that merit its attention as well. This week's column addresses one of these — Canada's innovation deficit. The federal and provincial governments urgently need to adopt policies that foster innovation by increasing access to, and dissemination of, cutting-edge Canadian knowledge and research in order to correct the imbalance between dollars spent on research and educational materials and the corresponding outputs to the Canadian research and education communities.
Geist outlines three issues he believes need to be addressed. Concerning dissemination of publicly funded research, he advocates an open-access model:
Late last month, a group of Nobel prize winners in the United States (which faces the same dilemma) issued a public letter calling on their government to link public research funding with public dissemination of the results. Canada should jump at the chance to adopt a similar model that would tie free, public dissemination to all publicly funded research. Such an approach would still leave room to commercialize the research results, while providing Canadians with an unprecedented innovation opportunity and a more immediate return on its research granting investment.

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May 24, 2004

Rush Hour on the Information Superhighway

:: To feed my personal NYC obsession, I subscribe to Time Out New York. Although it arrives in my mailbox anywhere from 3-5 weeks after publication, I look forward to each issue. While its content keeps me up-to-date on All Things Pop Culture and All Things NYC, there are always well-written articles that pique my interest and result in further investigation on my part. In many cases, the articles are not necessarily NYC-centric either.

A recent example is the article, "Rush Hour on the Information Superhighway", by Clive Thompson, which appeared in Issue No. 445 April 8–15, 2004.

A funny thing happened on the road to utopia. The Information Age promised greater efficiency, allowing us to explore new worlds online and enjoy more free time. Instead, we're working longer hours and feeling more stressed as we drown in a tsunami of e-mail, blogs and Google searches. And nowhere is this pressure to stay connected more prevalent than in mediacentric New York.
Thompson succinctly addresses information bombardment and overload, focusing on four aspects: e-mail and spam, Google and googling, blogs, and TiVo (which, btw, isn't available in Canada yet). As librarians and information specialists, we are bombarded with information from many sides every day. How do we deal with it? Often, we don't - some, if not all of it flows over us like water off the back of a duck. We process a little of it. But being librarians, when we search for information we should know where and when to stop, and Thompson very correctly nails this in his discussion of searching:
That's another conundrum of our age: New technologies seem only to amp up our desire for more. Consider Google. It is by all accounts an informational godsend. But since it offers hundreds of hits for even the most quixotic query, many people have no idea when to stop parsing the endless results, says Joseph Janes, chair of library and information science at the University of Washington's Information School, who teaches a graduate seminar on the site and its impact on the culture. "It can make your life simpler, but it can also lead you down the path to perdition," Janes adds. "You find things that point to things that point to things that point to things, and you wake up two hours later. Or maybe you're looking for something that simply can't be found on Google, and it takes you 45 minutes to figure that out." Janes was trained as a librarian, and he says one thing librarians learn is when to stop: "We know when to declare victory—or to go home if the information just isn't there."
Consider that: knowing when to stop. It's one of the many characteristics that define us as information and library professionals, and I think we should be proud of it.

BTW, the Time Out New York publishers and editors have quietly set a high standard for open access. They have uploaded the contents, except for listings of current events, of every issue since the magazine began publishing in 1995. New issues are archived online one month after publication. Issues can be browsed by date, and a search function is provided that allows keyword searching with the ability to restrict by section of the journal. As a good friend would say, totally brilliant.

April 6, 2004

Ephemera for Engineers and Scientists

:: This interesting article by Donald Christiansen, from the Feb 2004 issue of IEEE-USA Today's Engineer, discusses Ephemera for Engineers and Scientists. Excerpt:

The problem manifests itself in other ways. Many technical articles now include references to Internet addresses, as opposed to hard-copy resources. Authors and readers alike complain that many of these URL-identified references seem to vaporize with time. A study led by Robert Dellavalle of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center revealed some startling numbers. Summarized in Science magazine, it reported that in one dramatic instance, 108 of 184 Internet addresses became inactive within four years. In tabulating the combined results from articles that appeared in three major journals — Science, JAMA, and NEJM — the study team reported that 3.8 percent of Internet references were inactive three months after journal publication, 10 percent after 15 months and 13 percent after 27 months.

February 9, 2004

Greg Notess on Toolbars

:: Greg Notess provides a detailed analysis of toolbars, suggesting that most have failed to attact a following of any significance. I confess that I use the Google toolbar regularly, and appreciate its popup blocking feature.

January 26, 2004

2004: The (Internet) Turning Point

:: Stephen Downes has written 2004: The Turning Point, a thoughtful and interesting essay on some of the issues that will change how we use the Internet. Downes maintains Stephen's Web, which he describes as "a digital research laboratory for innovation in the use of online media in education. More than just a site about online learning, it is intended to demonstrate new directions in the field for practitioners and enthusiasts." (Thanks, Lea!)

December 5, 2003

Search Engine Decoder

:: Search-This has an interesting page called the Search Engine Decoder. Choose from 19 search engines, and the decoder tells you supplies and receives primary, secondary, directory and paid results.

July 3, 2003

Google Updates Toolbar, Civil and Structural Engineering Online

:: Google has updated its toolbar (Beta 2.0), featuring three new functions: Popup Blocker, Autofill, and BlogThis. Chris Sherman provides details in Search Day, 30 June 2003. I use the toolbar everyday, and find it quite useful. Download the toolbar here.

:: The British Columbia Institute of Technology has a nifty site called civil & structural online @ BCIT. The various pages on the site "contain a combination of text and graphics to introduce the field of civil and structural engineering." (From: Internet Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology.)