The Internet: Its Impact and Evaluation

The Internet: Its Impact and Evaluation

The Internet: Its Impact and Evaluation

The Internet: Its Impact and Evaluation


The Proceedings of an international forum held at Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Park, 16-18th July 1999, organised by City University, and sponsored by Aslib, The Association for Information Management, The British Library and News International. The purpose of the conference was to: explore methods for evaluating the Internet's many features and functions; assess the impact of the Internet in strategic areas of human endeavour, so providing us with an understanding of the way that the Internet is fashioning the world we live in; identify the key information and communication principles, ideas and concepts that are emerging as a result of the spread and development of the Internet; and put down an agenda for future Internet research and collaboration.
Contents: The challenge: unstable knowledge, unstable times; Three-dimensional impact: a case study of electronic government; Joining up information and learning; Newspapers and the net: peaceful coexistence or fight to the death? The impact of the Internet on the ownership of information; Impact of the Internet: some conceptual and methodological issues; Studying the impacts of the Internet without assuming technological determinism; The relevance of information retrieval research for the evaluation of the WWW; From bibliometrics to cybermetrics; Web metrics: too much data, too little analysis; Surveying the global diffusion of the Internet; Tracking and evaluating the global information consumer; Evaluating the net as a 'local' information resource.


Robin Hunt

The Internet is the operational tool of postmodernism's worst-kept secret: that we live in a plagiaristic and unstable world where market dominance lasts as long as it takes somebody to copy the code, duplicate the idea, and market it better. How does information work in this environment? How does information validate itself, copyright itself, and mutate itself as our 24/ 7 working practice creates destabilising demands on humans and machines? How does a university keep up with working practice? How long should its research projects last and how closely must it work with the unstable practitioners of the ever-moving digital coalface?

Introduction: who's got the last laugh now?

Let's start nice and easy-as the Picasso of musical cubism, Frank Sinatra, would have it. Who invented the telephone? And the source to answer this question is the ubiquitous multimedia encyclopaedia, Encarta, from the Microsoft Corporation. First we try the British, American and a German edition of the CD-ROM, and the answer is-doh! Well, of course-Alexander Graham Bell.

But look at the Italian version and the credit goes to Antonio Meucci, who allegedly beat Bell by five years. Meucci was an Italian, an impoverished candle maker. As The Wall Street Journal reported:

Technology [such as the Internet] and globalisation are colliding head-on with another powerful force: history .

Whether the issue is the light bulb, who discovered the AIDS virus, the ownership of an island on Korea's southern shore, who won the battle of Waterloo, or the 'existence' of Kurdistan, Encarta has differing answers depending on the local market, the local thinking. The local thinking right now. Technology now has to deal with the issue that has bedevilled literary and social theory-to name but two academic schools-objectivity. But unlike the ivory-towered academic who can build a career

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