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Journal of the Association for Information Science

IN THIS ISSUE

 

Bert R. Boyce

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SPECIAL TOPIC ISSUE
WHEN MUSEUM INFORMATICS MEETS THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Guest Editors:  David Bearman and Jennifer Trant

 

Introduction: When Museum Informatics Meets the World Wide Web, It
Generates Energy
David Bearman and Jennifer Trant

Application domains both adapt technologies in distinctive ways and manifest requirements that can propel basic research in novel directions. Museum informatics is one such domain and its impacts on the World Wide Web are of both sorts. The half-dozen articles we have selected from the 1999 Museums and the Web Conference for this special issue of JASIS, were selected because collectively they delineate important concerns of museum informatics as an application domain, and call for new methods in information science as a whole. Our hope is that in this intersection of museum informatics with JASIS, play and research will both benefit and that we'll see some results at future annual Museums and the Web Conferences. [Full texts of other papers from 1997-1999 presentations can be found on the web at www.archimuse.com by following links to mw97, mw98, and mw99.].

Effective Levels of Adaptation to Different Types of Users in
Interactive Museum Systems
F. Paterno and C. Mancini

At its most basic, this concern for the visitor is manifest in the design of museum spaces. Paterno et.al. ask of web design what every museum exhibition designer faces with every exhibition: Why should each visitor to an information resource see it in the same way, when their knowledge, expertise and purposes are so different? Although they arrive by way of a requirement of museum informatics, the problem they are confronting is central to the future of e-commerce - if people don't see themselves in what they find presented to them on the web, and if the responses from the system are addressed to some one else, they will leave unsatisfied. By taking the problem in two stages - first creating some test response-types and allowing visitors to self identify, and then exploring how this model could be made more complex in the types it presents and in its response to visitor input, these researchers are providing usable answers, on their way towards analysis of an exceptionally complex research problem.

On Pattern-Directed Search of Archives and Collections
Garett O. Dworman, Steven O. Kimbrough, and Chuck Patch

Museum information spaces also pose informational challenges. Dworcman, Kimbrough and Patch expose the limitations of the best developed area of information science, information retrieval methods, when they ask a question basic to any "collection" of information: what attributes are correlated in this collection? In museum informatics this is an obvious question, as it would be in legal research (with the documents for a court case) or regulatory enforcement (with the records of a company), but it requires methods that are until know quite undeveloped in information science as a whole.

On-Line Exhibit Design: The Sociotechnological Impact of Building a
Museum over the World Wide Web
Paul F. Marty

Day to day tasks in museums are highly visual and information resources tend to demand more multimedia integration than team tasks in much of the business world. Marty's application of workflow enhancing information processing methods to a typical museum situation - planning a reinstallation of galleries - exposes the challenges of applying technology solutions to a demanding application domain and demonstrates the likely benefits such methods will have when applied to other design intensive business processes. Importantly, Marty recognizes the social informatics of the situation as well, and can reflect on the impact of these changes in working methods on the environment in which the work takes place.

Visiting a Museum Together: How to Share a Visit to a Virtual World
Paolo Paolini, Thimoty Barbieri, Paolo Loiudice, Francesca Alonzo, Marco
Zanti, and G. Gaia

Social interaction is the key to learning in the museum. Paolini et.al. take the methods developed for that least real universe of video games and explore how they could be used to make real human interaction possible in the world of virtual cultural experiences. Simply by taking the requirements of museum informatics - interaction with objects and with people - to the World Wide Web, they have exposed a huge new area for research and development and begun to delineate requirements for object-based learning and social interaction that have relevance to other domains ranging from distance education to future leisure life.

The Neon Paintbrush: Seeing, Technology, and the Museum as Metaphor
Peter Walsh

Museum visits, and museum exhibitions, are about making meanings. Peter Walsh reminds us that what we see is learned, and it changes as our expectations change. Through the prism of museum content, artifacts convey both what they are to us today and what they were to others when they were first created or discovered. Walsh asks us to examine the way in which current technology may be changing what we see. The tools of virtuality, no less than the microscope, take us to a world that is beyond our human perception, and in so doing transform the reality of the world in which we live by investing it with a potentiality it previously lacked, and which we will never again will be without.

Designing Digital Environments for Art Education/Exploration
Slavko Milekic

Sometimes tools get in the way. Were the designers of computers influenced by the traditional design of museums in making computers so unfriendly?, asks Slavko Milecik. Could both the interface to the museum and that of the computer be made accessible to very small children, handicapped individuals and all of us who would be delighted to replace a keyboard or a mouse with eye movements and thought? As museum informatics struggles to meet the challenge to expand audiences and the demands of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Milekic elevates playfulness to a technological imperative and explores the consequences. 

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RESEARCH

 

Using the Internet for Survey Research: A Case Study
Yin Zhang

After reviewing recent surveys conducted on the Web, Zhang lists their advantages and potential problems. A survey of 201 authors with papers in press in 8 journals was conducted as a case study. Respondent reactions were logged and respondents using the web were compared with those using fax or postal service. 125 useable replies were received via the web and 31 by fax or postal service. Respondents using the web to reply had higher self perceived ability to use the Internet, used the web more often, were seven years younger in mean age, but did not differ significantly in years of Internet experience, web access, or gender. Of the 147 who attempted access to the web survey 125 finished successfully. Of the 125 successful respondents, 36% viewed the overall survey results. Sixty percent only completed the survey, with the remainder looking only at their own completed results. The non-electronic respondents did not view results. Recent research shows known item searches to be the prime use of online public access catalogs.

Block Addressing Indices for Approximate Text Retrieval
Ricardo Baeza-Yates and Gonzalo Navarro

This article looks at the efficiency of a modification of the inverted file indexing model. In block addressing indexing inverted file entries do not refer to text position within a particular document but rather to predefined blocks of text of the document. Space is saved, but block hits must be scanned sequentially. BaezaYates and Navarro show theoretically, and confirm experimentally using their methods on TREC databases, that both space and time considerations in a block index can be sublinear and, thus, that file growth decreases the relative significance of time and space considerations for the index.

Surname Plus Recallable Title Word Searches for Known Items by Scholars
Frederick G. Kilgour and Barbara B. Moran

Kilgore and Moran, using the references to eight scholarly monographs published between 1990 and 1995, requested that their authors highlight recallable title words. Using surname and first specified word as keys, the number of authors and titles in the University of Michigan NOTIS- produced minicat was recorded. If the first search yielded more than 20 lines, a second word was added if available. When no word was available a NOTIS limiting field was used to repeat the search on only MARC 100 and 245 fields. A single screen minicat was produced 99% of the time and in 7 of
those 11 searches where a second specified word was not available. Surname and one keyword searching gives a single screen in over 84% of the cases.

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BOOK REVIEWS

 

Communicating Research, by A. J. Meadows
Christine L. Borgman

Civic Space/Cyberspace: The American Public Library in the Information
Age, by Redmond Kathleen Molz and Phyllis Dain
Richard J. Cox

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1999 , Association for Information Science