Editorial Introduction to Issue 41: Forces in Train
For someone who is relatively ill at ease with numbers, it comes as no surprise that our lives grow increasingly controlled by them in ways which perhaps Orwell did not 'foresee' in 1984. Winston Smith tries very hard to remain an individual, as I hope do we all; indeed it is most often the great individuals whom we either cherish as a national treasure , or loathe most enthusiastically, but to whom we are rarely indifferent. But numbers are also great facilitators and provided they have the scope, are able to secure and operate the most complex of systems and technologies as we know. Those of us who remember the great shift in this country to new telephone trunk dialling codes will recall the upheaval that irritating but essential adjustment occasioned in our lives. Ann Chapman writes of a similar impending and major shift in the numbers which we have used to identify books for many a year and makes it clear that ISBN-13: New Number on the Block will have an impact - to varying degrees - on all users of ISBNs: publishers, distributors, booksellers, libraries, and suppliers of systems and software to the information community and the book trade. As you will read, despite a period of adjustment being theoretically planned for, major forces will be employing the new system as of now.
Those readers who have been following developments in the software and development of academic repositories will know Richard Jones of old and no doubt remember his interesting comparison in issue 38 that looked at the similarities and differences between DSpace and ETD-db to determine their applicability in a modern E-theses service. Times have moved on and I very much welcome his description of The Tapir: Adding E-Theses Functionality to DSpace. Meanwhile, with so much interest on this side of the North Sea in academic repositories, it will be interesting to hear from Annemiek van der Kuil and Martin Feijen who are able to describe The Dawning of the Dutch Network of Digital Academic REpositories, (the Netherlands being that little further east).
Jean Godby asks What Do Application Profiles Reveal about the Learning Object Metadata Standard? and and in her response she makes it clear that the model in view has been influenced by usage patterns that are already observable but that problems nonetheless exist which have to be addressed because the context for the management of learning objects is growing ever more complex.
Paul Davey, Roddy MacLeod and Malcolm Moffat go into detail about how the technology developed for JISC and its services will be Improving Communications through News Aggregation and enable us to see at a glance what is going on in the JISC Service community. Debbie Campbell writes on How the Use of Standards Is Transforming Australian Digital Libraries, something that is well received in this neck of the woods. She describes how exploiting recent standards including the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH), handles for persistent identification and metadata schemas for new types of content has had a highly beneficial effect upon their capacity to digitise collections, host federated search services and provide an improved service.
Meanwhile Chris Awre, Matthew J Dovey, Jon Hunter, William Kilbride and Ian Dolphin describe the JISC-funded Contextual Resource Evaluation Environment otherwise known as the CREE Project which will combine user and technical investigations to examine how users wish to use library search services when they are embedded in portal and non-portal environments, and investigate the use of open standards wherever possible to achieve such embedding.
UKOLN has found itself more than usually busy this past year culminating in its hosting the the 8th European Conference on Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries (ECDL2004) at the University of Bath where it is based. All hands were on deck and much rushing back and forth from stern to the foc'sle was called for, but manifestly there was a distinct buzz to the conference which was good to see. Jessie Hey provides A Digital Librarian's Report on the conference and Michael Day who has once again covered The 4th International Web Archiving Workshop as he did for last year's workshop in Trondheim. However the presence of ECDL2004 on our doorstep has not diverted Ariadne from other conferences as you will see if you visit this issue's At the Event section.
Other sections in the issue include Regular Columns and Get Tooled Up this issue carries an item from Brian Kelly on how quality assurance principles should inform the work of developers. Andy Powell gives an overview of one collaborative tool that he has been looking at that places distributed partners in contact so that, though in Virtual Rooms, Real Meetings are nonetheless possible at a fraction of the traditional cost of face-to-face encounters.
In this issue's News and Reviews we have reviews of works on the information society, a review on the leassons learned in Knowledge Management, and a careful study of the latest Library Without Walls Conference, while a book on Information Representation and Retrieval comes in for balanced but also quite adverse critical comment. Then Building a World Class Personal Library with Free Web Resources will , I feel sure appeal to many of us, if ever we find time.Once again I am indebted to the many readers of Ariadne and members of academic lists who have offered to review for us.
I am also very grateful to Ariadne's columnists for their contributions and the information and informed comment they provide.
I hope you will enjoy issue 41.
- Obituary: John Peel