As the World Wide Web continues to expand, it becomes increasingly difficult for users to obtain information efficiently. Because most search engines read format languages such as HTML or SGML, search results reflect formatting tags more than actual page content, which is expressed in natural language.
Will the emerging global information infrastructure (GII) create a revolution in communication equivalent to that wrought by Gutenberg, or will the result be simply the evolutionary adaptation of existing behavior and institutions to new media? Will the GII improve access to information for all? Will it replace libraries and publishers? How can computers and information systems be made easier to use?
University libraries have a long tradition of sharing the information they house among themselves and of making it freely available to scholars generally. This volume extends this tradition to the modern realm of automated library systems by demonstrating how such libraries can collaborate in developing automated systems and by sharing this information with 1ibrarians at large.
The emergence of the Internet and the wide availability of affordable computing equipment have created tremendous interest in digital libraries and electronic publishing. This book is the first to provide an integrated overview of the field, including a historical perspective, the state of the art, and current research.
Until recently, information systems have been designed around different business functions, such as accounts payable and inventory control. Object-oriented modeling, in contrast, structures systems around the data—the objects—that make up the various business functions. Because information about a particular function is limited to one place—to the object—the system is shielded from the effects of change. Object-oriented modeling also promotes better understanding of requirements, clear designs, and more easily maintainable systems.
Information design is the newest of the design disciplines. As a sign of our times, when the crafting of messages and meaning is so central to our lives, information design is not only important—it is essential. Contemporary information designers seek to edify more than to persuade, to exchange more than to foist upon. With ever more powerful technologies of communication, we have learned that the issuer of designed information is as likely as the intended recipient to be changed by it, for better or worse.
The common rhetoric about technology falls into two extreme categories: uncritical acceptance or blanket rejection. Claiming a middle ground, Bonnie Nardi and Vicki O'Day call for responsible, informed engagement with technology in local settings, which they call information ecologies.
What do a seventeenth-century mortality table (whose causes of death include "fainted in a bath," "frighted," and "itch"); the identification of South Africans during apartheid as European, Asian, colored, or black; and the separation of machine- from hand-washables have in common? All are examples of classification—the scaffolding of information infrastructures.
Quintessentially American institutions, symbols of community spirit and the American faith in education, public libraries are ubiquitous in the United States. Close to a billion library visits are made each year, and more children join summer reading programs than little league baseball. Public libraries are local institutions, as different as the communities they serve. Yet their basic services, techniques, and professional credo are essentially similar; and they offer, through technology and cooperative agreements, myriad materials and information far beyond their own walls.