D-Lib Magazine
November 1999

Volume 5 Number 11

ISSN 1082-9873

In Brief

HCI and the Digital Library Research Institute -- Canadians in the Digital Library Research Arena

Contributed by:
Elaine G. Toms
School of Library and Information Studies
Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

The Human Computer Interaction and the Digital Library Research Institute was held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, September 30 - October 2, 1999. The Institute brought together a group of multi-disciplinary Canadian research and industry participants to identify the role that we might play in the global digital library research arena. No concerted effort for digital library research has taken place among Canadian researchers to date, although Canada is presently a leader in salient areas such as computer graphics, geographic information systems, health, animation, telecommunication, text retrieval and markup and multilingual systems, and has major centres for new media and content development -- all of which are key ingredients in digital libraries.

Our specific objectives were to:

  • identify research themes that capture a uniquely Canadian perspective
  • foster academic-industry collaborations and liaison for technology transfer
  • establish a virtual institute for digital library research in Canada.

Thirty-six invited researchers from eleven Canadian research institutes and universities participated in the two-day think tank. The Institute opened with a visionary presentation by James Tobin, President, Hummingbird Communications Ltd. Keynote speaker and facilitator, Gary Marchionini (Cary C. Boshamer Professor, School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) talked about "Digital Library Research and Development Challenges Circa 2000." He described the digital library design space along four dimensions: community, technology, services and content, arguing for greater emphasis on both community and services. He emphasized the need for digital libraries to augment human knowledge and described the next step as the development of the digital library virtual workspaces -- the concept of a 'sharium.' Mark Chignell (Associate Professor, Dept. of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto), the second keynote speaker, focussed on the concept of documents in his presentation: "Books without Binding: From Documents to Messages?" He argued that the world of human knowledge is a continuum from documents to messages to the point where today documents morph into messages. He recommended better collaborative tools, the need for classification schemes, personalized systems and content integration.

In addition to the visions presented by keynote speakers, a panel of industry representatives responded to the following questions:

  1. What do you see as the important problems to be solved?
  2. What are the outstanding issues?
  3. What can Canadian researchers do for you?
  4. How can industry and academics work together to handle these problems and issues?

Arnold Campbell ( Director, Leadership Development, Design Interpretive, Nortel Networks) discussed the importance of designing human experiences, of the need for simplicity and the need to design for different markets. He focussed on two areas: the need for information at the point of the decision and the need to design for human interaction and to be concerned with affective behaviours. Vic DiCicci (Vice President, Research, Communications and Information Technology Ontario Innovation) described a number of innovative research projects that CITO supports from multi-media repositories to cooperative knowledge to interface design for different information appliances. Karel Vandenburg ( IBM User-Centered Design Architecture & Corporate Team Lead, IBM Toronto Lab) talked about the current focus for web-based access to resources inter and intra IBM and described many of the design elements that need work such as navigation, search, the problem with URLs, human accessibility, and personalization. Alan MacDonald (Special Assistant to the Vice-President-Academic, University of Calgary), a former CEO of a university library, talked about the ‘nation’s library’ and the impact on the human condition. He described the need for simplicity within systems and the need for freedom from information.

Four multi-disciplinary teams brain-stormed to identify and develop key areas of potential research. The areas that emerged from these sessions were concerned with: 1) evaluation, 2) personalization, 3) metadata, 4) automatic classification, 5) simplicity, 6) interactivity, 7) retrieval, 8) users and 9) services. A panel of industry representatives and researchers critiqued the products of the groups. Joining first panel members: Arnold Campbell and Alan MacDonald were Andrew Large (Professor and CN-Pratt-Grinstad Chair in Information Studies, Graduate School of Library and Information Studies, McGill University) and Michael Milton (Bell University Labs). Finally, Gary Marchionini provided concrete suggestions and directions. In his final summation, he discussed the need to consider the holistic view of the digital library from both a human side and a system side and prescribed a process for the group to follow.

In a "Where do we go from here?" session, participants enthusiastically endorsed continuing the discussion and a common goal: the stimulation of digital library research within the Canadian context. In addition to a virtual institute, the group endorsed working toward a proposal to the Canadian research funding councils for a Network of Centres of Excellence in digital libraries. A steering committee has been charged with developing a vision statement for the group and developing concrete research objectives. Steering Committee members are:

Alan MacDonald
Special Assistant to the Vice-President (Academic)
University of Calgary,

Steven Marsh
Research Associate, Interactive Information Group
Institute for Information Technology, National Research Council,

Michael Milton
Bell Canada University Labs,

Frank Tompa
Professor, Department of Computer Science
University of Waterloo,

Elaine Toms, Chair
Associate Professor, School of Library and Information Studies
Dalhousie University.

The Institute was conceived and organized by Elaine Toms (chair), Jane Beaumont, Jamshid Beheshti, Joan Cherry, Mark Chignell, and Andrew Large and funded by a Research Development Initiative Grant of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (to Toms, Beheshti and Cherry). For more information about the Institute see:  <http://www.mgmt.dal.ca/slis/hci-dl >. A full report of the Institute will be available on that site in November.


Social and Economic Implications of Information Technologies Bibliographic Data Base

Contributed by:
Eileen L. Collins, Ph.D.
Senior Coordinator and Manager for Assessment Studies
Division of Science Resources Studies
National Science Foundation
Arlington, Virginia, USA

The "Social and Economic Implications of Information Technologies Bibliographic Data Base" is a pilot project. Researchers, analysts, and the public are invited to visit the pilot site  <http://srsweb.nsf.gov/it_site/index.htm > and to send comments and additional citations (following the links on the site). Future development of the site will depend on public response and availability of funds.

Currently, the pilot site contains over 4,000 citations to data sets, research papers, books, and web sites about the social and economic implications of information, communications, and computational technologies (IT). The citations have been sorted into a series of searchable listings called Road Maps and include the implications of IT for the home, education, community, government, science, employment and work, commerce (including electronic commerce), productivity, institutional structure, globalization, and selected policy issues. About one third of the citations in the entire database have abstracts and a subset of the citations about IT in the home have been specially annotated.

Note that the pilot site consists of citations, including URLs and hot links for Web items. It does not contain the data or research works themselves.

This pilot project was carried out by SRI International's Science and Technology Policy Program. Support for the site has been provided by the National Science Foundation Division of Science Resources Studies, the Computation and Social Systems Program in the Division of Information and Intelligent Systems, and the Sociology Program, the Societal Dimensions of Engineering, Science, and Technology Program, and the Science and Technology Studies Program in the Division of Social and Economic Sciences.


Cultural Heritage Informatics

Courtesy of:
Jennifer Trant
Executive Director, Art Museum Image Consortium
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

The International Cultural Heritage Informatics Meeting 1999 (ichim99 conference) was held September 23 - 26, 1999, in Washington, DC, USA. ICHIM Proceedings provide understanding of the evolution of computer-based interactive multimedia in cultural settings. Abstracts of papers from the ichim99 conference can be linked to from  <http://www.archimuse.com/ichim99/speakers/index.html >, and the proceeding's editors, David Bearman and Jennifer Trant, have provided an electronic version of the Introduction to the ichim99 proceedings which you may see by clicking here.

Now available in print format, the ichim99 proceedings may be ordered for $50.00 from the Archives and Museum Informatics web site using an online form at  <http://www.archimuse.com/publishing/new.html >.

Copyright (c) 1999 Corporation for National Research Initiatives

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DOI: 10.1045/november99-inbrief