Internet Librarian '99

By Hane, Paula J. | Information Today, December 1999 | Go to article overview

Internet Librarian '99


Hane, Paula J., Information Today


Conference in San Diego provides a forum for exploring issues and challenges

An enthusiastic group of over 2,400 gathered in San Diego for the third year of the popular Internet Librarian conference sponsored by Information Today, Inc. This year, the "Nothin' but Net" event moved south from its previous, quaint Monterey Bay location to the (mostly) sunny and fun-loving southern California spot. It was held November 8-10 at the San Diego Concourse, in the heart of downtown, and an easy walk or trolley ride to many restaurants, attractions, shopping, and entertainment.

The 3-day event included over 100 exhibiting companies, 12 tracks of conference sessions, two evening sessions, a 2-day Internet@Schools conference within a conference, over 100 expert speakers, plus 23 pre- and post-conference workshops. New this year were morning cybertours and evening cybercruises in various subject areas, conducted by Web experts and held in the CyberCafe. Sponsored by LEXIS-NEXIS, the 1950s-style CyberCafe provided workstations for Internet searching and checking e-mail, and even phone lines for plugging in laptops. Obviously, this was an extremely popular place.

Triple-Play Keynotes

Also new this year was a plenary session keynote speaker to open each of the 3 days of the conference. These were held in the Concourse's Golden Hall, a venue for many notable performers. However, as Tom Hogan of Information Today, Inc. pointed out, he wasn't sure he felt good following in their footsteps, considering the fact that performers such as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Marvin Gaye are all dead. At any rate, the three keynoters all gave stimulating, throughtful--and funny--presentations to a ballroom full of attendees. These keynote speakers are very well-known and regarded in our industry: technology and information industry consultant Steve Arnold; author and editor of the SuperSearchers series Reva Basch; and Danny Sullivan, author and editor of Search Engine Watch.

Arnold on Technology

Before diving into his topic, "Web Strategies for the Millennium: New Metrics for Selection and Evaluation of Internet-Enabled Infrastructures," Arnold first intrigued his audience by announcing the important technologies and issues that he would not be discussing--but they were obviously areas for our industry to watch for developments. These included Windows 2000 Digital Network Architecture (which will enable small businesses to use networked information), the Open Source software movements (Linux, PLS, MySQL), network cache technologies (which raise the issue of currency), non-text data explosion (such as Webcams, MP3, and images), wireless links and persistent connections, and Applications Service Providers (ASPs). Since Arnold is usually 6 to 12 months ahead of the rest of us, I'd bet that if he speaks again next year (yes, please ask him), many of these will be part of the featured discussion.

He then discussed what he called "Seven Transformational Technologies," some of which are easily observable (faster computers, denser and cheaper storage, bandwidth driving delivery of rich media). The others operate more behind the scenes (object-oriented programming environments offering flexibility, smart software fueling ease-of-use, the use of XML breaking data barriers, and Internet technology supercharging communications). The total context of these set the stage for his proposed metrics, which included basic costs, "what-if" analyses, detailed results analyses, and "pivot points" to measure the perceived payback of a technology.

This is, of course, just a gloss over of all that Arnold touched upon. He then discussed how a number of interesting companies were implementing the new technologies. One company, NetReality (http://www.netreality.com), which provides a 3-D fly-through of content (data visualization), uses all of his list of seven. Some other products and companies were equally fascinating, and are worth checking Out: X-Portal from KCSL (an in-context searching tool; http://www. …

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