by Donovan Griffin
There’s a quote frequently attributed to author William Gibson: “The future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed.” When working with information and technology professionally, it’s hard not to see disparate levels of technology in our everyday lives. There’s the Wi-Fi router that sits next to the fax machine; the document from a cloud database printed on a finicky, ancient printer; or the brand-new smartphone that brings the latest issue of The New York Times, paired with a cup of joe from a coffeemaker built on the other side of this millennium.
With that in mind, we have an issue for you this month that attempts to rein in the confusion of disparity and set standards for us all. Don Hawkins checks in on page 1 from the virtual conference put on by NISO and NFAIS about the semantic web, which attempts to make some sort of order out of this thing we call the World Wide Web. In “Yahoo Offering Huge Dataset to Academics,” Nancy Herther explains how the former search giant may be setting a new standard by allowing access to its normally closely guarded data-sets for the purpose of research. And Anthony Aycock lays down a system for would-be constitutional scholars to check their work in “The Art of the Con (Law),” bringing together the 200-plus-year-old historical document with a series of websites that help interpret it.
There’s plenty more where that came from in this month’s issue, including a look at political fact-checkers from Shirl Kennedy on page 8. Enjoy the issue.
— Donovan Griffin