What’s Hot & What’s Not Library Technologies & Trends from Applets to Z39.50 Roy Tennant
Warnings My personal opinion of the situation today (only fools and geniuses predict the future) I can’t cover the entire landscape (I mean, you want to go home, right?) I will cover way more Hot technologies than NOT Hot — sorry! TMBA: Too Many Bloody Acronyms
Outline Hot (and Not) Technologies, from Applets to Z39.50 What Makes a Technology Hot? Or Not? Joe Janes’ Six Questions Making Good Technology Decisions I Know This Much Is True 3 Things You Must Remember
Applets Java applets were once thought to be the way to deploy rich interactive services to web clients Experience demonstrated that Applets: Often crashed browsers Took way too long to load Were less cross-platform compatible than advertised Hot? NOT! — Use servlets instead…
Digital Reference Solves the essential problem of not being where the user needs us (online) Is much better than it was, but is still in its infancy Should be viewed as simply another tool to provide more effective user services Hot? Yes, but be realistic and realize it is a NEW service that requires investment
Dublin Core A common meeting ground for more complex metadata standards Co-developed by an international community of librarians and computer scientists (broad- based support) Example of success: it is the one required metadata format for OAI-PMH Hot? Yes, but should be used only for cooperative metadata sharing or very simple metadata needs
eBooks Major kinds: Device-dependent Web-based Download-based Uptake varies dramatically based on format, cost, type of content, etc. Hot? Varies…from dead-cold device- dependent ebooks to lukewarm and slowly heating up for other types
FRBR Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (from IFLA) A method by which we can bring together for the user multiple records that describe one intellectual object Example system: Redlightgreen.com from RLG Hot? YES! May be an effective way out of the morass of multiple records
HTML A hodge-podge of sloppy implementations and browser-specific hacks Meanwhile, a better solution exists…XHTML & CSS Hot? Cold, dead cold, for anyone interested in standards and long-term viability — use XHTML and CSS instead
Institutional Repositories “Digital collections capturing and preserving the intellectual output of a single or multi-university community.” (SPARC) A way libraries can help change scholarly communication from a profit center to a social good Hot? Yes!
Java Servlets “Servlets” = Server-side applications Java is a common language for web- based application programming Hot? Yes.
Metasearching Only librarians like to search, everyone else likes to find Searching in a Google World A powerful tool, but… Challenges remain: Deduplication Ranking Target Response Hot? Yes, but still at an early stage
METS Metadata Encoding and Transmission Schema An XML “wrapper” for various metadata “packages”, as well as component files or the internal structure of a file Increasingly used as an all-purpose metadata package for digital objects Hot? Red hot, and getting hotter!
MODS Acronym A bibliographic standard similar to MARC expressed in XML Probably the closest thing to a replacement for MARC Currently used as an alternative to MARC XML Hot? Lukewarm, and getting warmer…
OAI-PMH A protocol for “harvesting” (as opposed to searching) metadata from content repositories A digital library interoperability “home run” Simple, easy to implement and understand; other uses are being layered on top (e.g., dynamic searching) Hot? Red hot and getting hotter…
Open Source Software Software for which anyone can obtain the source code (the human-readable code that is normally compiled into code that isn’t) Essential services are running on OSS; e.g., Apache web server, MySQL OSS is particularly important for libraries, as it is now much easier and cheaper to prototype and build new online services Hot? Red hot, and likely to continue to be
OpenURL A standard way to encode URLs for information objects that are computer parseable, and therefore actionable in ways that standard URLs are not Key benefits: Links are not 1-to-1 (multiple targets can be presented) Links can be presented that are unique to a user community (based on local licenses) Hot? You bet! A simple way to solve the “appropriate copy” problem as well as offer new capabilities
RDF Resource Description Framework Do you understand, and can you explain to someone else, what a labeled directed graph is? No? Then forget about understanding RDF Can you implement what you don’t understand? Where is the killer app? Hot? NOT!
RSS Pick your acronym definition: Really Simple Syndication (my fave), Rich Site Summary (from Netscape), or RDF Site Summary (for those into the RDF version of RSS) Useful for current awareness: Blog readers Automatic web site updates Hot? Yes! But for specific purposes
Storage Storage is going for about $1/GB Buy this 1 terabyte disk for $1,000 -> Put this 4 GB card in your camera -> Carry this 1 GB USB drive in your pocket Hot? Like, duh!
Web Services: SOAP + REST SOAP: Simple Object Access Protocol A lightweight way to exchange encoded information between applications REST (Representational State Transfer) is a URL (HTTP Get) based way of sending a SOAP request and receiving an XML- encoded response Both Google and Amazon can be searched via Web Services Hot? Definitely!
XHTML and CSS An XML-compliant version of HTML Benefits: forces markup to be valid and properly structured; forces display directives into a separate stylesheet (CSS) where they belong Ongoing maintenance of documents thereby simplified and standardized Hot? Definitely! Migrate NOW!
XML A simple and yet powerful way to encode information in a structured format for processing and communication All kinds of hot new services use it, from OAI-PMH to RSS and SRU/SRW — even library catalog systems Hot? Super Red Hot! If you want job security, learn XML now!
Z39.50 A standard for searching remote databases that has been around for years Still not widely implemented in a consistent and effective manner Meanwhile, OAI-PMH and other XML- based protocols (e.g., SRU/SRW) are rapidly replacing it Hot? NOT! But see SRU/SRW
SRU/SRW SRW = carried by a form (uses HTTP POST) SRU = carried by a URL (uses HTTP GET) A Web Services implementation of Z39.50 The best chance Z39.50 has of surviving Hot? Warm and getting warmer (it may be a useful method for database vendors to expose their databases to metasearching)
What Makes a Technology Hot? Simplicity Power Flexibility Cost-effectiveness Kills a pain or fulfills a strong desire
What Makes a Technology NOT Hot? Needless complexity (more complexity than is required to solve the problem at hand) Greater cost (in either money or time) than users are willing to pay Addresses a problem that no one feels that strongly about Competition that is more compelling
Joe Janes’ Six Questions Is there a benefit to the user? Is it accessible, affordable, and worth the cost? Does it help uphold the values of the profession? Does it play to our strengths? Is it likely to endure? Does it feel right? Reference:
Making Good Technology Decisions Keep an ear to the ground and an eye on the horizon Hold new technologies up to the light of your mission and priorities Watch out for 800 lb. Gorillas Don’t ignore an upstart with a compelling product
Making Good Technology Decisions Don’t bet the farm on things you can’t control All things being equal, open is better than proprietary Technology with market share often prevents or kills better technology However…market share is everything Get good advice Know your source of support
I Know This Much is True Neither an early adopter nor latecomer be It’s the user, stupid! Don’t expect users to know what they want until they see it Never underestimate the power of a prototype Back it up or kiss it goodbye Buy hardware at the last possible moment
I Know This Much is True Don’t buy software with a zero at the end of the release number Burn, baby, burn: the only good CPU cycle is a used one Never let anyone bitch at you about disk usage — disk space is cheaper than dirt! If you can’t be with the operating system you love, love the one you’re with
3 Things You Must Remember XML It’s not the technology, but the user! Never stop learning!