Recommended Reading on Technology, Thesauri, Web Sites, and Malicious Content

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Recommended Reading on Technology, Thesauri, Web Sites, and Malicious Content ISBN: 0-262-19497-X Published: 2004 Pages: 433 pp.; hardcover Price: $45

Available from: The MIT Press, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02142; 617/253-5643; http://mitpress.mit.edu

To start a new year, I thought it fitting to step back and take a fresh look at the impact of technology on society. Then, in a more practical vein, I look at thesaurus development, some hidden features of popular Web sites, and how to deal with malicious Internet content.

Shaping the Network Society: The New Role of Civil Society in Cyberspace

edited by Douglas Schuler and Peter Day

This thought-provoking collection of 15 papers is an outgrowth of the Seventh Directions and Implications of Advanced Computing Symposium, sponsored by the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility. The goal is to explore the impact and possibilities of information and communication technology (ICT) in a global environment.

The book is divided into three sections. "Part One, Civilizing the Network Society," contains three papers basically bemoaning the commercial and profit-oriented state of the Internet. After reading these papers, you may wonder if there is any hope for a world beyond the marketing influence of the transnational corporations. One paper uses the examples of the "Slow Food" and "Open Source Software" movements to show how local initiatives can flourish in an age of global communications, but author Gary Chapman fears such movements will likely be squashed by the corporate giants.

In contrast, "Part Two" provides several case studies that show some successes of ICT in lesser-developed or troubled parts of the world. Examples come from Serbia, Argentina, and Mexico, as well as community network initiatives in the U.S. These give practical insights into the possibilities of local initiatives in using ICT to shape a more civil society.

The last section of the book, entitled "Building a New Public Sphere in Cyberspace," challenges the reader to think of how technology is shaping our global society. Starting with a paper by technology analyst and futurist Howard Rheingold, the theme is to examine and re-examine what we are doing and why we are doing it. This section also contains a paper by former ALA president Nancy Kranich extolling the role of libraries as the "information commons." She encourages all libraries to become active participants in providing the place, whether virtual or real, for the public to engage in informed debate.

Although some of the papers in this book have a heavy academic orientation, I encourage anyone interested in the role of technology in shaping our societies to read this book. I'm sure you will come away with more questions than answers.

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The Thesaurus: Review, Renaissance and Revision edited by Sandra K. Roe and Alan R. Thomas ISBN: 0-7890-1979-5 Published: 2004 Pages: 209 pp.; softcover Price: $19.95

Available from: Haworth Information Press, 10 Alice St., Binghamton, NY 13904-1580; 607/722-5857; www.haworthpressinc.com

This is the book that I wish many of the up-and-coming technology geeks would read. How many of us are tired of hearing about taxonomies, ontologies, classification systems, etc., as if they were invented only a year ago? This book gives a nice overview of the development of thesauri as aids in electronic information retrieval, as well as some thoughtful insights for future directions.

The editors have collected 11 papers on various aspects of thesaurus development, providing a showcase for var ious experts. The first paper, written by Jean Aitchison and Stella Dextre Clarke, provides firsthand insight into the historical developments of thesauri starting with definitions and explanations of key terms. It is amazing how much confusion there is in terminology in a field that aims to solve that exact problem! …