Tomes for the Holidays

Article excerpt

A lot happens in December. Jews observe Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. On Dec. 25, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, while those with a more secular view wel- come the arrival of Santa. A day later, African-Americans begin the weeklong cultural festival Kwanzaa. Not an official holiday, the winter solstice occurs on or around Dec. 21, giving the Northern Hemisphere its shortest day of the year. December is capped off with the year's biggest date night, aka New Year's Eve. The 31st is also the last day to make those heartfelt donations to your favorite charities in order to claim deductions on your income tax returns.

So what doesn't happen in December? Well, while Information Today rolls off the presses, all other ITI magazines have been put to bed for the year with combined November/December issues. Since my column is supposed to highlight articles of interest from these "napping" publications, I was in a bit of a bind. Luckily, the ITI book department came to my rescue with some new selections that just might come in handy for those hard-to-buy-for people on your holiday gift list.

'Tis the Season to Assess

Unlike those cutesy nightshirts you see hanging in store windows this time of year, when it comes to competitive intelligence, one size does not fit all. Recognizing that it can be difficult for firms to compare the multitude of available CI software, information specialists France Bouthillier and Kathleen Shearer co-authored Assessing Competitive Intelligence Software: A Guide to Evaluating CI Technology.

In Chapter 1, "Value-Addedness and Information: Two Notions, One God," the authors write, "[W]hat is value, how can value be added to information, and what types and degrees of added value are necessary for CI?" The answer to this complex question is a multifaceted process that includes turning data into knowledge, defining the notion of value, and outlining the value-added processes of information, expert, and intelligent systems.

Chapter 2, "A Conceptual Framework for Competitive Intelligence," looks at the evolution of CI, offering an explanation of the terminology, the CI process, and the identification and acquisition of CI needs. The following chapter, "Identifying the Value-Added Processes of Competitive Intelligence," gets into the specifics of evaluating information technology while targeting the value-added dimensions involved.

Chapter 4, "Overview of Competitive Intelligence Software Applications and Related Products," begins with a "typology" of technologies and then goes on to talk about CI technology and provide a six-product overview. In the final chapter, "Evaluating Competitive Intelligence Software," the authors present an evaluation guide and the criteria and questions that go with it. They address methodology and compare software products across several categories, such as organization, storage, retrieval, information analysis, and product development.

Here We Come an IRR-ing

In the preface to Information Representation and Retrieval in the Digital Age, Heting Chu asks, "Another book on information retrieval?" She goes on to explain that yes, another book on this subject is more than warranted now that we have branched out of the Information Age into the digital age. …