|I have to say that I learned
a lot while reading this month's features. That is, once I put aside my
fear of protocols and acronyms and really dug in. And you know what? The
topics weren't as complicated as I thought they'd be. So if you've been
avoiding them, I urge you to gather your courage and explore the uncomfortable
acronyms. C'mon and follow me; I'll walk you through them here to show
you how painless they can be.
It was no accident that
we decided to open this issue with the "alphabet soup" article from Shirley
Kennedy. If you don't already know Shirl's work from places like the Information
Today newspaper, then you're in for a real treat. She can make just
about anything funny (and fun). I'm glad she volunteered to demystify many
of the common acronyms that are floating around these days. So you can
begin by seeing various protocol names and reading a quick, concise explanation
of each. Try it, you'll like it!
Next comes an article on
patron authentication and proxy servers. Peter Webster helps us understand
how a proxyserver works like a friendly doorman who only lets in people
who really belong inside (although in this case, the "doorman" protects
a network, not an apartment building). There are protocols at work here
too, and Peter explains them very nicely. Security is always an important
issue, and remote authentication is in great demand, so this article is
well worth your time.
When you get to page 24
you'll see Marshall Breeding's article on OAI (which, as Shirley will have
already told you, means "Open Archives Initiative"). Even if you felt ready
for that, tossing in the phrase "Protocol for Metadata Harvesting" might
seem intimidating. I'll admit that I'd seen these terms cropping up for
a while before I got brave enough to explore them. When I got this article
I was really pleased to see that Marshall had explained it so clearly.
The concept is not nearly as complicated as it sounds. So come, reap the
benefits of this knowledge!
Finally on page 30, we get
to the one that everyone's been waiting for: XML. If you've been going
to conference sessions on XML and walking out thinking, "I still don't
get it!", then this article is for you. Kyle
Banerjee does a good job by explaining not only what XML can do, but also
what it cannot do. This article really helped the concept to gel in my
mind, and I think many of you will benefit from it too.
Then when you're ready to
explore a bit more on your own, check out our columnists: Balas' sites,
Jacsó's insights, and Pace's pontificating.
But if you still want to hide from this topic, don't shelve this magazine
just yet. There's always Michael Schuyler, griping about something that
we can all relate to. So dig into this issue—I'm sure it'll have something
Kathy Dempsey, Editor