Editorial Introduction to Ariadne Issue 20
Welcome to the newly redesigned Ariadne. The new interface was created to improve the appearance of Ariadne both on screen and when printed: the latter is particularly important now that Ariadne is published only in electronic format (since issue 19). The old 1996 design was generally very servicable from the point of view of structure and navigation, but it had a number of features which, with the benefit of twenty-twenty hindsight, introduced un-necessary complications to the editorial process: these have now been redesigned. There are fewer buttons on the pages, but you can still get around the magazine in the same way as before: the page structures have been minimally modified to make the new appearance possible. The new Ariadne banner echoes the design which used to grace the paper edition, and uses the same 'minoan' colours. The graphics, the layout, and the new navigation structure were designed by myself. I am pleased to say that the former editor of Ariadne (up to issue 11), John Kirriemuir, author of this issue's OMNI column, was instantly happy with the result.
The changes which have been made represent only the initial and most graphical of those planned for Ariadne. Details of these improvements will be announced as they occur. From issue 21 for instance, each article will contain detailed citation information brought into the text by SSI's, so that users referring to a saved file or a print copy of an Ariadne article will know exactly where it came from, and how we would prefer it to be cited in other articles and publications.
Brian Kelly, the UK Web Focus has recently returned from the WWW8 conference in Toronto, and his report appears in this issue. The 'next big thing' for this year's conference was... that there is no 'next big thing' for this year. This has been greeted with something like relief, since the pace of technological change during the past three or four years has been vertiginous and disorienting (if you haven't felt disoriented you haven't been paying proper attention to what is going on): the slowdown in pace of development is perhaps (and hopefully) a sign of a growing maturity among the web community.
This issue features a number of articles on Clumps type-projects. Of these I think the article by Juliet Dye and Jane Harrington, Clumps in the Real World: What do User's Need? is the most significant. As Derek Law has observed recently, users needs are rarely directly considered in the design of new services: Juliet and Jane take a close look at evaluation procedures for the UK eLib Programme CLUMPS projects. As they point out, many users want to search for resources independently, but also want guidance as to how to do this: it is up to providers of services to make this independence practical, otherwise the take-up of the services will not reflect what the users actually want. This paper is based on a key presentation at the CLUMPS day held in the British Library on the 22nd March 1999.
Mick Ridley has contributed an article to this issue on his BOPAC system - this is a practical Z39.50 project, originally funded by the British Library, designed to investigate the problems of large and complex retrievals from Z39.50 searches from multiple targets (Practical Clumping).
Continuing the focus on users, John Kirriemuir has contributed a revealing article on the state of Internet access in the UK National Health Service. One of the Ariadne editors recently worked in it too, and the article seems to reflect fairly accurately how it is in some parts of the Service. The editor had no Internet access at all in the lab, but then the unit had just moved six floors within the building to facilitate the removal of 1950's asbestos lagging. In general within the university hospital's medical faculty access was good, however, the fact that two parallel networks exist throughout the NHS (to maintain patient confidentiality) with its implications for duplication, is bound to lead to arguments by some that the newcomer network is surplus to requirements. The OMNI survey is informal, but may lead to a more substantial study in the future (OMNI column).
Other articles with a pronounced user focus are: 'Smart card people are happy people', an article in which Sally Rumsey outlines Tolimac: a pilot electronic document delivery service at the University of Surrey Library. In our DISinHE column, Alan Newell explores technological solutions to support staff and students at Higher Education institutions with disabilities; and Elaine Blair describes Mailbase services, ten years on, as the organisation prepares for the possibility of becoming a commercial enterprise.
Among the regular columns we have one by Rebecca Linford (Web Editor), which gives a realistic picture of life behind the scenes of an HE web service. Outsiders have a false picture of how tidy things can be this early in the development of the craft (which is what it is). A number of the UK JISC supported subject gateways contribute reports: for Planet SOSIG, Karen Ford writes on 'The Resource Guide', which aims to provide staff and students in HE with an overview of electronic services; in EEVL Eye on Engineering , the EEVL Team explore patent information web sites, the latest EEVL news, etc.; for Biz/Ed Bulletin, Chris Mitchell introduces the Advice and Answers section of the CTI Economics Web site; and Kate Sharp explores Green Resources on the Web for Economics and Business. In the new JISC Content column Alicia Wise describes the UK National Electronic Site Licence Initiative; and in JISC ASSIST, Jane Williams describes the nature and function of the JISC awareness unit. The Public Libraries column features an exchange between Frank Webster and Lorcan Dempsey, on modernisation, libraries and public policy, and whether or not we have been down this road before.
On a more technical front, in ECMS, Pedro Isaias has contributed an article on Electronic Copyright Management Systems: this will be followed up in issue 21 with a look at the technology of the systems. In Search Engines, Phil Bradley looks at the engines which can be used to trace people rather than documents; and in the Web Mirror column, Sally Hadland writes about the new New National Mirror Service, which ought to bring more order into mirroring practices. The Unix Column this month features an article on 'chroot Sandbox'. Written by Ian Peacock of Netcraft (tanning himself in Barbados as I write), it looks at the increasing concerns about security arising from the proliferation of network software, and explores 'restricted perspectives,' which might prove to be a practical antidote to the problem. Switching operating systems, Brett Burridge (Windows NT Explorer) tells us about Active Server Pages (ASP) - one of the most useful facilities provided by Windows NT server. Tracy Gardner reports on two IMS workshops held recently, and provides a good analysis of what it all means. This issue's Metadata column is by Michael Day and Andy Stone, who report on the 'Third Metadata Workshop in Luxembourg'; and Agnès Guyon alsos reports from Europe on Bibliotecas Universitárias em Consórcio, a seminar in Aveiro, Portugal, held on the 26th and 27th April this year. Finally, the Newsline column provides updates on News and Events, including news of the Mellon Digitization Scoping Study in Oxford, which is due to report soon.
Enjoy the issue.
16 June 1999
Addendum, 09 July 1999:
The article in this issue by John Kirriemuir (OMNI column) on the provision of Internet access within the UK National Health Service, has been reviewed in the British Medical Journal by Douglas Carnall. Responses to the review are also available.
The Editors of Ariadne are:
University of Bath
Bath BA2 7AY
Tel: +44 (0) 1225 826354
Fax: +44 (0) 1225 826838
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University of Bath
Bath BA2 7AY
Tel: +44 (0) 1225 323343
Fax: +44 (0) 1225 826838