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|VOLUME 26 • NUMBER 4 • JULY/AUGUST 2002|
Next Wave Consulting, Inc.
month I look at creating online exhibitions, searching the invisible Web,
basics of mobile technology, and then a thought-provoking glimpse at the
future of work.
Creating a Winning Online Exhibition: A Guide for Libraries, Archives, and Museums
by James W. Moore
Available from: ALA Editions, American Library Association, 50 East Huron Street Chicago, IL 60611; 866/746-7252; www.alastore.ala.org.
What better way to learn than from guided examples, and this book provides many examples to follow for creating quality online exhibitions. Written by a digital projects librarian at the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, the book is designed for the novice, but contains many tips for the more experienced curator. It provides step-by-step guidelines for creating a winning show.
The book begins by defining an exhibition and distinguishing it from a mere online collection. The two major distinctions revolve around theme and narrative explanations—guiding the user through specific objects. Most of the 10 chapters end with a nice list of resources for further information, as the book does not attempt to cover all the necessary topics in detail. Rather, it lists the major steps involved in planning and executing an online exhibition, and then each chapter provides an overview of the issues involved.
The topics discussed include writing a proposal, coming up with and executing the idea, staffing, online versus offline exhibitions, and technology. Sometimes the amount of information provided seems just enough to confuse, but the many cited examples and the resources can help the reader to follow through on a concept. This book will not make you an expert in designing online exhibitions, but it will certainly help you get started. The biggest danger in this book, though, is spending the time online to look at all the examples. It is easy to be overwhelmed and inspired at the same time.
The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See
by Chris Sherman and Gary Price
Available from: CyberAge Books, Information Today, Inc. 143 Old Marlton Pike Medford, NJ 08055; 609/654-6266; www.infotoday.com.
What a massive job creating this book must have been. It is hard enough to find the resources you want when they are indexed in one place, but having to go from Web site to Web site in search of hidden data takes a tremendous amount of time. The authors—Gary Price was a librarian at George Washington University and is now a freelance researcher, while Chris Sherman was the Internet search engine guide at About.com and now edits the SearchDay newsletter for SearchEngineWatch.com—have provided a great service to identify and organize so many of these sources.
The first half of the book provides background information on the birth of the Web and the technology that drives the search engines. The authors state that this is provided to help users understand how the search engines do and don't work, in order to help them improve their search methodologies. The authors also attempt to define and explain that amorphous entity, the "invisible Web." We all understand the concept, but it is tough to put specific parameters around it.
The second half of the book is devoted to listing online resources. The authors have organized hundreds of resources into 18 subject categories, such as reference, science, art, business, education, legal, history, health and medical, social sciences, and transportation. Each resource has a brief description and URL. There is also a companion Web site [www.invisible-Web.net] and an opportunity to subscribe to a newsletter for updates.
Although extensive, this book is by no means a comprehensive list of invisible Web resources. Rather the authors have chosen representative samples in each category to demonstrate the types of sources that can be found. The book will help you understand why the invisible Web exists and how to find these resources.
The Mobile Technology Question and Answer Book: A Survival Guide for Business Managers
by Ron Schneiderman
from: AMACOM, American Management Association, 1601 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019, 212/903-8315; 800/714-6395;
Perhaps more than most, I rely upon mobile technology to navigate, communicate, and generate ideas and thoughts, but I still have only this vague idea of how it all works. I just love the magic of being able to beam bytes anywhere, but do I really need to know more? Scared by the acronym soup and technical jargon, I hesitated to pick up this book.
Thankfully, the author, a New Jersey-based consultant and former editor of Wireless Systems Design magazine, thinks and writes in bullet points, which is an excellent way to present this kind of information to a nontechnical audience. The bullet points are then fleshed out in more detail, but it makes it easy to hop around the book learning about the pieces of technology you really want to know, and skipping the rest. The detailed table of contents helps you find the content you want, and the handy glossary helps demystify most of the terms mentioned in the book.
The sad news is that high-speed mobile access is still a few years away. We may never see a universal standard, but the applications are proliferating. The book does not go into very much detail, but covers a broad spectrum of mobile applications, including mobile commerce, instant messaging, cellular and PCS systems, security, electronic payments, and so on. I think in most instances you get just enough information to determine if the technology is of interest to you, but the book could be greatly enhanced with a list of references or URLs for more information on the various topics. Still, it is a good primer for those starting into the mobile arena, or for those looking at incorporating new delivery mechanisms for information.
The Internet Weather: Balancing Continuous Change and Constant Truths
by James W. Moore
246; hardcover •
This book is not about the Internet weather services—which was only my first of many surprises while reading the book. The author coined the phrase "Internet weather" to describe the phenomenon of being surrounded by technology in the same way we are surrounded by the weather. He states, "As you go out in the weather, so you go out into the atmosphere of communication, data, and images." I found this concept of Internet weather totally confusing and it bothered me through the entire book.
However, the basic premise of the book is good. Rather than examining the future through changing technology, the author, a futurist and consultant, has chosen to look at those things that stay the same—regardless of the weather. He narrows it down to four facets of human nature that don't change: the human desires for time, truth, trust, and privacy. He uses these as guiding principles for looking at the future and shows how to plot a course based on how changes in technology will interact with these four human verities.
The author feels the future of work will revolve around the way organizations and individuals come to terms with time, truth, trust, and privacy. Time—we never have enough of it, we can work from anywhere at anytime and the speed to market is crucial. The author looks at the different issues and technologies affecting time, and concludes it is the most important of the verities.
Truth is discussed in the sense of truth in data and reliable sources. Moore gives many examples of how we are drowning in information and concludes that there will be greater reliance on a few trusted sources. Good news for information professionals and publishers. Trust is crucial to the acceptance of information, systems, and even the way we interact. The author discusses how difficult it is to establish trust in a digital environment.
Is there such a thing as privacy any more? The author feels this is the emerging issue, with more and more technological efforts focused on masking your online identity or preserving your anonymity. The solutions to the privacy issue will determine how successful many Internet services can be.
There are many thought-provoking issues discussed in this book. It is refreshing to have the human desires interpreted within the context of technology, making it well worth the time to wade through some confusing analogies to get to the gems.
Deborah Lynne Wiley (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Principal of Next Wave Consulting, Inc.
Comments? Email the editor at email@example.com.