Web Magazine for Information Professionals

Editorial Introduction to Issue 45: Smaller Might Be Beautiful

Richard Waller introduces Ariadne issue 45.

While as a fully paid-up cynic I could be forgiven for fingering the metaphorical revolver on sighting a technology evangelist, the evangelist in question has an excellent track record as Ariadne readers will know. Paul Miller in his article Web 2.0: Building the New Library would seem to lift our eyes above the merely technological and in a series of 'Principles' underpinning Web 2.0 provides us with a set of aims with which relatively few might argue violently - on the face of it. Irrespective of whether Web 2.0 becomes reality or yet another Holy Grail, the debate it has engendered over recent months, centred upon its usefulness to end-users, must be a welcome one. While cautiously recalling previous false dawns, Paul provides an overview of the potential Web 2.0 represents for us, as a concept at least.

In detailing his principles, Paul indicates, for example, the possible capacity of Web 2.0 to address the demands of the Long Tail which is already beginning to rival traditional market behaviours for the attentions of innovators and entrepreneurs alike. But it is the potential for what Tim O'Reilly terms an 'architecture of participation' which should interest us, (in particular the cynics). In an era in which every other politician on the stump bangs on about community values while (sometimes unwittingly) condoning measures which serve only to dilute them, Web 1.0, for all its sins, has fanned, however gently, the embers of community activity. It has provided a means of communication and information for concerned but increasingly isolated citizens who no longer have the time to operate along the traditional but rusting lines of community activity. The capacity of Web 2.0 through technologies such as blogging, file sharing, etc. to empower the ordinary user with more effective means of communication remains to be seen. But it could bring enormous support and even clout to consumer and pressure groups and those at the grass roots of the democratic process. If indeed small is beautiful, flexible, re-combinative, disaggregating, modular and sharing, then Web 2.0 might just be beautiful too.

Shifting in to a more technical gear, Chris Awre, Stewart Waller, Jon Allen, Matthew J Dovey, Jon Hunter and Ian Dolphin in their article Putting the Library into the Institution: Using JSR 168 and WSRP to Enable Search within Portal Frameworks nonetheless touch upon one of the elements in the principles behind Web 2.0 mentioned above when they write of institutions bringing information to students and staff. The approach they mention outperforms the long-held expectation that end-users will continue not only to seek out one's Web site and but also seek access. The CREE Project has been funded by JISC to investigate how the integration of Internet-based search tools within institutional environments can support the emerging user-oriented approach. In this companion article to Investigating User Requirements for Searching within Institutional Environments in this month's D-Lib Magazine, the authors describe work undertaken by the CREE Project to enable the presentation of existing search tools within portal frameworks using the JSR 168 and WSRP portlet standards. Readers new to this area might also wish to read Developing Portal Services and Evaluating How Users Want to Use Them which appeared in Issue 41 of Ariadne.

While no one bats an eyelid these days at the encyclopaedia packages employed by children in their schoolwork and general learning activity, and while few educationalists would argue with the reasoning that says we have many more (and frquently more effective) ways to learn than via the written word, the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of learning materials currently available in our airspace are predominantly text-based. Balviar Notay and Catherine Grout explain how that is set to change and in Looking for More than Text? they provide an overview of developments in digitisation programmes, online delivery services and specialised search engines which cater for searching and locating still images and time-based media. They also give a useful survey of developments in content with particular focus on JISC-funded activity and outline the developments forthcoming in the JISC's work with portals in digital visual and sound material. For those of us particular focusing upon digital image material, I can also do no more than recommend visiting Phil Bradley's column on Search Engines in which he provides results not only of his tests of recently emerged image search engines but also of those engines he surveyed in his column back in 2000.

One of the words on many practitioners' lips these days is 'repositories' and while we may first think of them in the context of purely research materials, we should not forget the work of repositories of learning materials and the contribution they are making to e-learning. In Online Repositories for Learning Materials: The User Perspective, Amber Thomas and Andrew Rothery explore how online repositories are being used to store and share e-learning content, and show how taking the user perspective might challenge the emerging approaches to repository development, consequently reminding us that nothing should be written in concrete at this juncture. I am delighted that we have been able to pick up on their work since last year.

Remaining in the context of repositories we welcome back two contributors from the Netherlands, Martin Feijen and Annemiek van der Kuil who precisely a year ago today provided us with a description of the first year of the DARE Project and who now pick up the thread for us again in their article on Special Content Recruitment for Dutch Institutional Repositories. In this article they describe the Cream of Science Project, a highlight of the DARE Programme, which generated a Web site offering open access to almost 25,000 publications by 207 prominent scholars across the Netherlands.

I am equally pleased to be able to update readers on a project we have tracked for some while and so I am indebted to Morag Greig and William Nixon who write on DAEDALUS: Delivering the Glasgow ePrints Service and provide both the key aims and findings of the DAEDALUS Project and the Glasgow ePrints Service and I feel confident that many readers interested in their work will be particularly drawn to what they write on the issue of advocacy.

At a time when some consider that recent changes in the law have altered the balance of rights away from users in favour of owners, Esther Hoorn tackles one of the perennial problems for many practitioners in her article on Repositories, Copyright and Creative Commons for Scholarly Communication and considers ways in which librarians can support scholars in managing the demands of copyright so as to respond to the needs of scholarly communication.

As usual, we offer our At the Event section, as well as the helpful updates in our Regular Columns and reviews on cataloguing and organising digital resources; managing acquisitions in library and information services; and Volume 38 of ARIST. In addition of course we provide our usual news and events.

I hope you will enjoy Issue 45.

Author Details

Richard Waller
Ariadne Editor

Email: ariadne@ukoln.ac.uk
Web site: http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/

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