Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Ask Techman

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Ask Techman

Article excerpt

Denny J. from the University of Arizona wants to know: Since when is social engineering about e-mail viruses? What's up with that?

techman responds: What happened when we weren't looking? My reaction is that the phrase got co-opted (or maybe hijacked). In my mind, social engineering has been about someone in power using science to engineer the kind of society he wanted to have--I've seen or heard it used to describe everything from government intervention (or takeover, a la Hitler) to racial integration (the science of bussing) to putting women on the front lines of war (caused by "Clinton feminists") to dumbing down education through the No Child Left Behind Act to creating a Chinese suburban middle class to drive their economy.

But, sure enough, everyone from Wired to Salon is using "social engineering" to refer to what we used to call hacking--scamming or "phishing" to steal information, usually in the form of passwords, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, etc. In fact, many sites consider worms sent through the Internet and replicated through holes in Outlook to be social engineering. Wikipedia notes that, along with the computer science definition, a political science definition implies that the term refers to engineering attacks on society. Maybe they think it's a form of engineering a virtual society?



Ben from Freeport, Maine, wants to know: More acronyms ... just when I got XML and CSS down, I now see XRML and XBRL! Do you know if these are related?

techman responds: They're not really related. In all things XML-like, I consult (World Wide Web Consortium or W3C). According to its Web site, XRML (eXtensible Rights Markup Language) is used "for expressing rights and conditions associated with digital content, services, or any digital resource." My understanding is that it can be used in library management systems for metadata about contracts or electronic resources. XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) is "an XML-based language to represent financial and business reporting information." Thus, XRML contract info might parse into XBRL financial reports for accounting, auditing, etc. Confused? Well, now get ready for XMCL (eXtensible Media Commerce Language), which is "designed to communicate these rules in an implementation independent manner for interchange between business systems and DRM" (Digital Rights Management systems). …

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