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Magazines > Information Today > February 2003
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Information Today
Vol. 20 No. 2 — February 2003
DEPARTMENTS
What's New in ITI's Other Publications
By Lauree Padgett

As the editorial services manager here at Information Today, Inc. (ITI), I'm going to be peeking under the covers, so to speak, of some of ITI's other magazines and journals to periodically share interesting tidbits with you. This month, I'll be looking at articles from the current issues of Searcher, ONLINE, and MultiMedia Schools, as well as two newsletters, Intranet Professional and The CyberSkeptic's Guide.

The idea behind this column is that while you may not have time to read all of ITI's other publications on a regular basis, chances are there will be articles within each one that can offer you a wide range of helpful information. So while it's pretty darn cold here in February at the Medford, N.J., home office, let's lift up the covers and see what we've got.

Throwing the Book at Plagiarism

As an information professional, you already know how the Internet has blurred the lines between copyright infringement and acceptable use. However, were you aware that the Internet has made plagiarism all the more prevalent within education systems from grade school to college?

If you're a parent or librarian, you might want to know how Web sites are enticing kids to pass other people's research papers off as their own—and what teachers and school administrators are doing to fight back. According to the article "To Cheat or Not to Cheat: A Rose by Any Other Name Would Still Smell a Cheat," by Jackie Shane (The CyberSkeptic's Guide, February 2003, p. 4), the going rate for a pre-written paper at one of the Web's "paper mill" sites (Shane's Google search turned up 14 pages of URLs) is $9.95 per page.

Of course, sometimes the Webmasters hate school so much they'll provide papersfree of charge. One such site is Other People's Papers (http://www.oppapers.com), which has a warehouse of more than 45,000 papers free for the taking. (The site does accept monetary donations, however.)

But all is not lost. The Web also has sites that provide plagiarism-detection software, including Turnitin.com (http://turnitin.com/static/index.html) and JPlag (http://www.jplag.de). Studies have indicated that the fear of being caught through the use of these detection sites is enough to keep some would-be student plagiarizers from cheating.

Backing Up Your Memory

Anyone who suffers from data overload (i.e., most of the civilized world) knows what it's like to forget an important date, such as a big management meeting at the office, your significant other's birthday, or your annual physical. Never fear. If PDAs and strategically placed Post-it Notes are not enough, there's a new software program you might want to buy. WinDates, produced by Rockin Software (http://www.rockinsoftware.com/index.html) and reviewed in Sheri R. Lanza's Tools of the Trade column (Searcher, February 2003, p. 61), is a calendar that automatically calculates 40 annual holidays, including those like Mother's Day and Easter that fall on different dates each year.

Through an EventWizard, you can also enter in numerous events such as birthdays and anniversaries and then choose how many days in advance you want the date to appear on your calendar. But wait, there's more. You can also program in an audible alarm. While stopping short of yelling out, "Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!" (sound effects, sans the robot from Lost in Space, include a train, drum, bird, and howl), WinDates can make sure you never miss an important date again.

Home-Page-Land Security

Are you working on setting up an intranet for your company or a client? Steve Arnold, a well-known information industry consultant, gives some advice in "Ten Intranet Security Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them" (Intranet Professional, January/February 2003, p. 1). This article outlines the most at-risk areas for intranet security breaches. He says:

The security for the intranet often focuses on information, content control, and access security. The operating system and network devices must be given equal attention. It comes as a surprise to many managers that an intranet raises more issues dealing with browser-related security and access to information on certain machines....

Anyone probing an organization's security quickly discovers that whenthe intranet connects to the Internet, additional security issues surface. These include users inadvertently allowing a virus to infect the intranet as well as hackers who obtain access to data that the organization views as proprietary. Wireless access adds yet another level of complexity. System administrators must treat each wireless accesspoint with the same care given a network server.

The 10 specific pitfalls Arnold addresses within the article are encryption, access control, passwords, content publishing and management, firewall setup, remote access, e-mail management, viruses and rogue code, standard software, and the security audit.

Defining Usability

Online information can be difficult to gather, especially for people who aren't tapped into the Internet 24/7. For users who know where to go and how to get it, teaching others their tricks of the trade isn't always a simple process either.

Thomas Pack's "Fiddling with the Internet Dials: Understanding Usability" (ONLINE, March/April 2003, p. 36) looks at ways in which content providers can make it less difficult for people to work with online information. In the article, Jakob Nielsen, principal of the Nielsen Norman Group, defines usability as a way "to help humans overcome technology and make it easy and efficient and pleasant for them to use."

Nielsen contends that while information types can be quite different and serve different purposes, once a person has learned one way of doing a task, it becomes easier to use the process the same way in other interfaces. This in a nutshell is the principle of consistency: Using different technologies doesn't mean the learning process has to be different.

"If you have to learn things only once and then you can do them the same way everywhere, that dramatically lowers the learning barrier. And that's fundamental," Nielsen maintains. "It's not dependent on the specific technology we're using today versus 10 years ago. It's not dependent on whether we're using mainframes or PCs or Web sites or cell phones."

Would You Like Information Processing with That?

Companies that are trying to become technologically versed are facing the same kinds of growing pains and adaptation struggles as the nation's schools. From an educational standpoint, the biggest issue seems to be how to transform teachers into competent users so they can in turn pave the way for students to become literate in all available technologies.

Within an office infrastructure, the roles of teacher and student may not be as obvious, but the goal to attain optimum literacy for all—whether for the new employee or seasoned veteran—is much the same. The question becomes how to define this new kind of literacy, and then, how to attain it.

In her article "Contemporary Literacy: Essential Skills for the 21st Century" (MultiMedia Schools, March/April 2003, p. 18), Janet Murray notes that economic forecasters and business analysts are predicting that jobs in the 21st century will require information-processing skills. Within school systems, this means that the standard three "R's"—reading, writing, and 'rithmetic—are being greatly expanded. A multitude of literacy connotations now exist: visual literacy, media literacy, textual literacy, numerical literacy, technology literacy, and network literacy.

Murray writes: "In each case ... the word 'literacy' ... suggest[s] a complex of skills, including analysis, evaluation, synthesis, and application. Merely teaching reading and writing is no longer sufficient, although those are certainly the foundational skills upon which all other literacies are built."

Brrr

Well, it's getting late and I'm getting a bit cold with the covers off, so I'm going to call this inaugural column a "wrap." Between now and next month, you can be sure I'll be keeping my copy editor's eye out for more useful and thought-provoking selections to highlight from the various ITI offerings.
 

Read a Good Book Lately? $25 for Your Thoughts!

Information Today to Premiere "Reader's Pic" Section

Information Today will pay $25 for your honest recommendation on any title of interest to professional information users. So if you just put down a good book and would like to recommend it to your fellow readers, drop us an e-mail with the details (title, author, publisher name, number of pages, and ISBN) and your 100-word recommendation. If selected for publication, your review will be included in our new "Reader's Pick"section, which will be appearing in an upcoming issue. Upon publication, you'll have 25 bucks in your pocket.

Publishers, please send us your book announcements and sample copies for inclusion in our New Releases section, which is also coming soon.

(All submissions become the property of Information Today, Inc.)

 


Lauree Padgett is Information Today, Inc.'s manager of editorial services. Her e-mail address is lpadgett@infotoday.com.
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