From the Editor
Last year, D-Lib Magazine observed the New Year by challenging ourselves to do things differently because the digital technologies can enable a new form of expression. Alternatively, like lots of others in the business of making New Year's Resolutions, we promised to eat less and exercise more. In this issue, you will see that we've given ourselves a new look and changed some functionality. And Ron Dolin and his co-authors have actually done something differently: They've taken the notion of interactivity beyond hyperlinks to related resources to a new level by embedding a demo in the story itself.
The D-Lib program is expanding. In December, a new working group on digital library metrics was organized; its first meeting was held in early January. That meant that our web site, which had been primarily focused on D-Lib Magazine, was also expanded and restructured, while retaining all of the functions (e.g., Ready Reference, search, author and title index). The new structure is based heavily on perceptions on use: The working group area is a highly-interactive communications space -- its content changes frequently and asynchronously, and access to some of it is restricted to members of the working group. Ready Reference is the opposite; its content is public and stable and updated relatively infrequently. Finally, D-Lib Magazine. Its content changes monthly within a predictable framework of editorials, stories, and clips and pointers. And this month, we've added reviews of books.
So much for content. We've also changed some of the navigation. In the last year, we started getting mail asking us where the back issues were. This was surprising because we have always kept back issues one click away -- assuming that the reader knew which button to click. Therein lay the problem. We had made access to search, back issues, and author and title indexes accessible from the home page -- that is, two steps away from the monthly stories since the model of use assumed that readers would go from the home page, to the contents page, and then to the stories. Readers familiar with the site or willing to poke around could eventually find back issues or one of the other access tools. But readers who were less patient or who entered D-Lib via a pointer to a story found themselves at a loss. Indeed, when I asked around at meetings, I found that lots of readers did come to D-Lib because of a referral to a story rather than because of the monthly announcement. As more and more resources like Current Cites and Charles Bailey's Scholarly Electronic Publishing picked us up, more and more readers came in through a story rather than through the home page. Hence the messages.
As a result, we've added access to search, back issues, and title and author indexes to the magazine's contents page, and we've also included "Search" buttons at the end of each story. Readers who want to know whether we've run other stories on metadata can go right from Harold Thiele's review essay to our search page as well as from his comprehensive bibliography to other resources both online and in print. We've retained the "Previous" and "Next" buttons for readers who want to go from one story to the following one. Readers asked for this functionality after our inaugural issue in July 1995, and it is particularly useful when we have a sequence of related stories as we do this month on indexing, metadata, and classification.
Readers also objected to our display. Two years ago, the blue-grey background was thought tasteful. The web's technology and aesthetics have advanced, and black lettering on the old background is now considered hard to read and boring ("snooze" was one comment). Text on the new white background should be easier to read, and the overall look is brighter and more contemporary. Rather like a face lift.
So, keep your messages coming. We're listening.
Copyright © 1998 Corporation for National Research Initiatives