Morning Becomes Electric: Post-Modern Scholarly Information Access, Organization, and Navigation

Morning Becomes Electric:

Post-Modern Scholarly Information Access, Organization, and Navigation

"The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Invent It" / Alan Kay

Gerry McKiernan
Curator, CyberStacks(sm)
Science and Technology Librarian and Bibliographer
Iowa State University Library
Ames IA 50011


Scholars are facing unprecedented Information Overload in their attempts to identify potentially relevant information sources. Electronic networks have not only expedited traditional forms of publishing but created new formal and informal opportunities for communication. Conventional methods of information management are reaching the limits of their effectiveness. To enhance access to information in the coming decades, systems that fully utilize the digital nature of a growing number of scholarly resources must be implemented.

Table of Contents


Scholarly Publishing

At the dawn of a new millennium, scholars are facing unprecedented Information Overload. According to a recent study of scientific scholarly journal publishing by Tenopir and King, there were approximately 6,800 scholarly scientific journals published in the United States alone in 1995 (Tenopir & King, 1997, p. 135). Of these, a significant number were in the physical sciences, mathematics, computer science, the environmental sciences, engineering, the life sciences, and related fields. On average, each journal in these disciplines published 1915 pages annually, resulting in more than 675,000 published articles per year (Tenopir & King, 1997, p. 136). Overall, an analysis of "journal tracking data shows that the total number of articles in U.S. journals has more than doubled from 353,700 articles in 1975 to 831,300 articles in 1995" for all identified scientific disciplines (Tenopir & King, 1997, p. 141). In general, the study notes, "the number of U.S. articles published has been increasing at an average rate of about 3.9% per year. At this rate scientific knowledge would double every 17 years" (Tenopir & King, 1997, p. 143). In the field of mathematics alone there are an estimated 50,000 papers published annually worldwide. From the end of the Second World War until 1990, the number of papers published in mathematics doubled about every 10 years. Extrapolating from these data, it is estimated that there have been more than one million mathematical papers published as of the mid-1990s (Odlyzko, 1996, p. 92).

While significant, the publication of scientific journals in the United States is a fraction of journal and other serial publishing worldwide. Based upon data presented in a standard international directory of serials, there were more than 109,000 serial titles published in the period 1988/89 (Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory, 1988-89, p. vii). A decade later, this same source reported more than 157,000 serial titles (Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory,1999, p. vii ), an increase of more than 40%. One noted historian of science has "calculated that since the 1700s, as measured by the total number of journals founded, the output of scientific information has grown exponentially" (Crawford, 1996).


With the increased and widespread availability and use of the Internet and World Wide Web (WWW) in recent years, new formal and informal avenues have developed that have further facilitated communication among scholars. "The development of electronic mail and other computer- based forms of communication ... presents significant opportunities for informal communication, whether to known colleagues or to fellow subscribers to a particular 'listserve' or discussion group" (Hurd, 1996, p. 15; see also Chu, 1994; Poland, 1991). According to a recent edition of a standard directory of academic and professional electronic discussion lists, there were 517 scholarly electronic conferences established as of 1991. Six years later in 1997, that number had grown to 3807 scholarly e-conferences, an increase of more than 600% (Mogge, Dru & Kovacs, D.K., 1997, p. 3; see also Kovacs, 1999). In the forthcoming edition of this directory, more than 4,500 will be included (D. K. Kovacs, personal communication, March 18, 1999). Not only are scholars involved in real-time virtual discussions of current topics, but the results of their research and those of their colleagues are now distributed directly to their individual desktops via the Internet (Brody, 1996). In the formal arena, more and more publishers are making their journals available in an electronic format. Of the more than 157,000 serial titles reported in the latest edition of the international periodicals directory, 10,332 were available exclusively online or in addition to a paper counterpart (Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory, 1999, p. vii). In less formal environments, more and more scholars as well as the public at large are making the results of their research available through personal, professional, or institutional web pages. Indeed, in a recent review of Internet search engines, Lawrence and Giles calculated a lower bound on the size of the indexable web of 320 million pages (Lawrence & Giles, 1998). While only a fraction of these web sites or electronic discussion lists will be of interest or value to a researcher, such ubiquitous sources have further exacerbated potential Information Overload for scholars.


Long before the emergence of the Internet and modern, commercial indexing and abstracting services, the early learned journals included tables of contents and indexes - first to individual and cumulative volumes of a specific journal, and then later, collective indexes for more than one journal title. "From the earliest times bibliographic sections of journals took note of articles published in other journals and, with the growth of the journal literature [included citations to journal articles in] ... monographic bibliographies, compendia, encyclopedias, etc. ..." (Manzer,1977, p. 6). With the burgeoning growth of scholarly publishing after the beginning of the nineteenth century, particularly in the sciences and technology, it became
difficult for scholars to keep up with developments either on a current or on a retrospective basis and there developed accordingly a need for a more methodological and systematic approaches to provide bibliographic control of the journal literature .... In short, the first decades of the nineteenth century witnessed a tremendous increase in the growth of journal publication and a concomitant crisis in its bibliographic control" (Manzer, 1977, pp. 6-7).
To meet the problems of current awareness and retrospective coverage, the abstract journal and the index journal developed (Manzer, 1977, p. 7). Two hundred years later, a number of comprehensive and selective abstracting and indexing services exist to fulfill the historical role of their predecessors (Smith, 1995).


In the field of biology, the BIOSIS Previews® (1969 - current) database is the major English- language service providing comprehensive worldwide coverage of the biological and biomedical sciences. Each year, approximately 350,000 records of original research from 6,000 primary journals and monograph titles are added to Biological Abstracts®, one of the two files that comprise BIOSIS Previews®. Biological Abstracts/RRM®, the second file, provides citations to meeting abstracts, reviews, books, book chapters, selected institutional and government reports, and other research communication, adds an additional 200,000 records each year (BIOSIS Previews® Bluesheet, 1999). As of November 1998, the BIOSIS Previews® database contained more than 11.5 million records ; for the period beginning in 1993 to this month, there were more than 3.2 million records (BIOSIS Previews® Bluesheet, 1999), more than 25% of the entire database for the most recent reported five-year period.


In the field of engineering, the Ei Compendex®Web(tm) database (1970 -) provides coverage of the "world's significant engineering and technological literature." By the end of 1998, this version of the Compendex database contained more than 5.1 million records (D. Chatten, personal communication, March 19, 1999), with more than 500,000 records added in that year from over 5,000 engineering journals, conferences, and reports (Instructions for Ei Compendex®Web(tm), 1999).


For the geological sciences, the GeoRef database (1785 -), established by the American Geological Institute in 1966, is the most comprehensive database in the field, containing more than 2 million references to geoscience journal articles, books, maps, conference papers, reports, and theses. More than 60,000 records are added each year (GeoRef Information Services, 1999). Among the major electronic abstracting and indexing services, it is unique in its retrospective coverage of 18th century literature.


In Mathematics, MathSciNet, a database produced by the American Mathematical Society (AMS), covers two major society indexes, Mathematical Reviews and Current Mathematical Publications. Current Mathematical Publications is a subject index of bibliographic data for recent and forthcoming publications; Mathematical Reviews provides timely reviews or summaries of articles and books that contain new contributions to mathematical research (About MathSciNet, 1999). Later this spring, MathSciNet will offer access to nearly 1.4 million reviews retrospective to 1940. Each year more than 65,000 reviews are added to the database.


In the field of medicine, the Medline® (1966-) database prepared by the United States National Library of Medicine (NLM) contains more than 9.2 million records (NLM Online Databases and Databanks: Fact Sheet, 1999). Approximately 400,000 citations, most with abstracts, are added each year, selected from more than 3,900 international biomedical journals in 40 languages (Factsheet: Medline®, 1999).

Citation Indexing and Indexes

Nearly fifty years ago, in an effort to overcome perceived and inherent limitations associated with traditional indexing of journal content, notably the time and labor associated with such an enterprise, and the inadequate and inappropriate categorization of articles by too general or too narrow subject terms or phrases, Eugene Garfield refined and applied the concept of citation indexing to enhance access to the scholarly literature (History of Citation Indexing , 1998; Garfield, 1979, pp. 1-18). Simply stated, "a citation index is an ordered list of cited articles each of which is accompanied by a list of citing articles. The citing article is identified by a source citation, the cited article by a reference citation" (Garfield, 1964, p. 650; see also Cited Reference Searching, 1999). "Citation indexing solves the depth versus cost problem by substituting the authors' citations for the indexer's judgment. The approach has the advantage of eliminating the need for intellectual indexing without compromising either the depth of the index or the quality of its 'terms' (Garfield, 1979, p. 2). Another important strength of citation indexing is its search effectiveness.
This quality has two components. One is search productivity, which is concerned with finding the largest number of relevant papers. The other is search efficiency, which is concerned with minimizing the number of irrelevant papers the searcher must check out to identify the relevant ones (Garfield, 1979, p. 2).
The publication of the Science Citation Index® in 1963 was the first large-scale implementation of the citation indexing approach (Garfield, 1964, p. 649). Although there were predecessor and pilot projects (Garfield, 1979, pp.6-18), this initial commercial effort has led to the development of a number of general and specialized citation indexes for all fields and disciplines, which have become standard reference works in most university and research organizations. Today, the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) founded by Garfield, not only publishes the Science Citation Index® and an enhanced version (Science Citation Index Expanded(tm), but the Social Sciences Citation Index® and Arts & Humanities Citation Index® as well. Specialty citation indexes include the Biochemistry & Biophysics Citation Index(tm), the Biotechnology Citation Index(tm), the Chemistry Citation Index(tm), and Materials Science Citation Index® , among others (Citation Database Products, 1999).
In toto, "the ISI citation databases collectively index more than 8,400 high quality, peer- reviewed journals, cover-to-cover, providing users with complete bibliographic data ... and cited references from the world's most influential journals" (ISI Citation Databases, 1999).The Science Citation Index® covers approximately 3,500 of the world's leading scientific and technical journals (Science Citation Index Database, 1999); the Social Sciences Citation Index® fully covers 1,700 journals and selectively covers relevant items from over 5,600 science and social sciences journals; and the Arts & Humanities Citation Index® fully covers over 1,140 journals and selectively covers relevant items from over 7,000 leading science and social sciences journals (ISI Citation Databases, 1999); Science Citation Index Expanded(tm) fully covers over 5,600 journals, approximately 2,000 more titles than the print or CD-ROM version of Science Citation Index® (ISI Citation Databases, 1999).
As the publisher of general and speciality citation indexes, the focus of the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) is to provide comprehensive coverage of the most important and influential research conducted throughout the world (Testa, 1999). Unlike a majority of the science and technology indexes and abstracts that seek to be comprehensive by being all-inclusive with the broadest coverage of a literature, ISI seeks to be comprehensive by being selective. Underlying its selection process is the view that "a relatively small number of journals publish the bulk of significant scientific results. This principle is often referred to as Bradford's Law" (Testa, 1999).
In the mid-1950s, S. C. Bradford realized that the core literature for any given scientific discipline was composed of fewer than 1,000 journals. Of this 1,000 journals, there are relatively few with a strong relevance to the given topic, whereas there are many with a weaker relevance to it. Those with weak relevance to a given discipline or topic, however, typically have a strong relevance to another discipline. Thus, the core scientific literature can form itself around various topics with individual journals becoming more or less relevant depending on the topic. Bradford understood that an essential core of journals forms the literature basis for all disciplines, and that, therefore, most of the important papers are published in relatively few journals. Recent citation analyses have shown that as few as 150 journals account for half of what is cited and one quarter of what is published. It has also been shown that a core approximately 2,000 journals now account for about 85% of published articles and 95% of cited articles (Testa, 1999).



While a vast majority of the journal titles indexed in the various ISI citation indexes are for a print publication, ISI also includes electronic journals (e-journals) among its selected sources. "In September of 1994, ISI accepted its first electronic journal, The Online Journal of Knowledge Synthesis for Nursing. Since then, [it] has added 16 more [titles] ... " and expects its coverage of electronic journals to grow steadily (Testa, 1999). ISI is not alone in this effort. The BIOSIS Previews® database indexes six e-journals (J. Borovicka, personal communication, March 8, 1999) and the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS®) monitors over 30 e-journals for its Chemical Abstracts database (Online-only Journals ..., 1999). Overall the number of candidate scholarly e-journals has increased significantly within this decade: in 1991, less than 30 scholarly e-journals were identified; by 1997 nearly 2,500 were available (Mogge & Kovacs, 1997, p. 3), an increase of more than 8000 percent! If this trend continues, as many predict (Hitchcock, Carr, & Hall, 1996), "print versions of scientific journals will soon be history ..." (Butler, 1999, p. 195). One can expect that moving from a paper to electronic medium will accelerate the communication process and dissemination of research findings more rapidly at stages in the stream of communication (Hurd, 1996, p. 24).
The promise of a 'library on the desktop' has finally begun to become a reality over the past 12 months, and user demand for the extra capabilities of electronic journals is driving libraries inexorably toward an electronic future (Butler, 1999, p. 197). For one library, this electronic future is now. The national Technical Knowledge Center and Library in Lyngby, Denmark, has "decided to phase out print altogether, and deliver journals to staff desktops via the World Wide Web" (Butler, 1999, p. 195; see also Bjørnshauge, 1999; Technical Knowledge Center & Library of Denmark, 1999).
The ability to click from an abstract or citation to the full text of an article is prompting a shift in the way that journals are used. Scientists often care less about the journal title than the ability to track down quickly the full text of articles relevant to their interests Increasingly, users view titles as merely as part of hyperlinked 'content databases' made up of a constellations of journal titles (Butler, 1999, p. 1).


Indeed, the "boundaries created by thousands of journals appear as little more than an evolutionary vestige" (Butler, 1999, p. 1). "The emphasis on journal articles, rather than journal titles is a trend to be noted, as it underlies a major change in attitudes by publishers ..." (Cornish, 1997, p. 170) as well as scholars. As noted by Patrick Brown, Stanford University, traditional journals represent a 'balkanized form of science in which information is fragmented into literally thousands of publications.... [T]here's no such thing as a scientist who takes a journal and reads it from cover to cover" (Marshall, 1999, p. 1611). While print journals have been a convenient method of organizing articles with some mutual relevance, in electronic publishing this is less true. "Individual articles can be stored in a database independently of one another but brought together through the medium of individual search strategies. ... In this context the individual article becomes the published unit in its own right rather than being a unit within a package" (Cornish, 1997, p. 170). Using facilities such as citation tracking, researchers are [now] ... compiling personal journals for the topics or authors of interest (Butler, 1999, p. 198). This is evidence of increasing 'demand ... for sophisticated new products that bear little resemblance to traditional journals" (Butler, 1999, p. 198).
The view of the literature as one vast interwoven content database is leading many to question the need to continue to print low circulation, high-cost journals (Butler, 1999, p. 199) and to propose or implement alternative publication systems and models. Odlyzko predicts that while high-circulation journals will exist in print as well as in electronic form, low circulation titles will exist only electronically (Butler, 1999, p. 199). Walker (1998) foresees the emergence of free Internet access to electronic journals made possible by the comparatively low costs of production, storage, and distribution over the World Wide Web and a significant change in the economics of publishing using server technology. The ubiquitous use of server technology for information distribution has already modernized the distribution of pre-prints in physics thorough the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) physics archives created by Ginsparg (1996) and is providing a model that is expected to transform the entire scholarly publication process (Butler, 1999, p. 199; Morton, 1997). A modified form of the LANL 'e-print' approach is one of several models under consideration by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for an e-print server in the field of biology (Marshall, 1999). In what may be viewed as a 'post-print' service, Shulenberger (1998) has proposed a National Electronic Article Repository (NEAR) that would provide free or low-cost access to articles after their formal publication in scholarly journals.
It is important to note that suggestions for alternatives to the scientific journal are not new.
The literature of library and information science as well as in scientific disciplines contains proposals dating back at least twenty years. Prior to the widespread adoption of computers in publication, these proposals tended to be based on alternatives distribution schemes often involving separate articles as the basic unit, sometimes combined with use of microfilm or fiche as a distribution unit." (Hurd, 1996, p. 18).
In an excellent review chapter on scientic literature published thirty years ago, Subramanyam (1979, p. 421-422) provides a summary of highly-innovative suggestions that sought to utilize the organizational networks and telecommunications technologies of the time, many precursors or antecedents of current proposals. "The following are some of the proposals suggesting drastic modifications or alternatives to the primary journal ... :


In a perceptive review of scholarly communication originally presented at the North American Serials Interest Group (NASIG) in June 1992, Lynch (1993) offers an insightful distinction between the modernization of scholarly communication and its transformation. For Lynch, modernization can be defined as
the use of new technology to continue to do what you have been doing, but in a more efficient and/or cost effective way. In the library context, one example is the use of computers to automate library processes of circulation and serials check-in (Lynch, 1993, p. 8).
In contrast to modernization, transformation addresses
the use of new technology to change processes in a fundamental way. A shift from a scholarly communication system that fixes results into print publications to one that relies on quality controlled distributed hypertext databases that are updated continuously, accessed and distributed through computer communication networks, and perhaps controlled by intelligent agent programs operating on behalf of end users, describes a potential transformation. ... The possibilities of developing distributed network-based multimedia that combine images, sounds, text, computer programs, and other objects is transformational in nature. Shared virtual reality (VR) environments, operating across the network as a 'place' to perform scientific collaboration, point the way towards yet another transformation of the scholarly communication process (Lynch, 1993, pp. 8-9).
Intelligent Software Agents
As defined by Gordon (1997, p. 289), an intelligent software agent is
[A] software object empowered to represent someone and carry out some action. An agent might send a message, filter and deliver information, make a purchase, or interact with other agents. An agent generally has a purpose, destination, conditions on which to act, and a set of actions it is capable of executing.
Haverkamp & Gauch (1998, pp. 305-306) provide a similar profile of agents:
Agents themselves may be regarded almost as individual entities pieces of software that control their own lives. They are (usually) continuously-running processes that know what to do and when to do it. They communicate with other agents, making requests and performing tasks. According to the artificial intelligence point of view, an agent possesses a long list of properties ..., including: autonomy, social ability, reactivity, benevolence ...; and rationality.
While not yet common in the management of e-journals, the application of intelligent software agents has been reported in the fields of manufacturing, process control, telecommunication systems, air traffic control, traffic and transportation management, electronic commerce, business process management, entertainment, and medical care, and information filtering and gathering (Jennings, Sycara, & Wooldridge, 1998, pp. 25-30; see also Jennings & Wooldridge, 1998; Maes, 1994; Murch & Johnson, 1998). Recent applications of agents for information management hold great potential for assisting scholars in both formal and informal communication venues as well as for the library in its effort to manage its acquisition, interlibrary loan and document delivery operations, cataloging, collection development, and reference services (McKiernan, 1999b).

Information Overload

"As the richness and diversity of information available ... has grown, so [too has] the need to manage this information .... The lack of effective information management tools has given rise to what is colloquially known as the information overload problem ..." (Jennings, N. R., Sycara, K, & Wooldridge, 1998, pp. 27; see also Klapp, 1986; Noyes & Thomas, 1997). The information overload problem can be characterized in two ways:
Information filtering: Every day, we are presented with enormous amounts of information (via email and usenet news, for example), only a tiny proportion of which is relevant or important. We need to be able to sort the wheat from the chaff and focus on the information we need.
Information gathering: The volume of information available prevents us from actually finding information to answer specific queries. We need to obtain information that meets our requirements, even if this information can only be collected from a number of different sites (Jennings, N. R., Sycara, K, & Wooldridge, 1998, pp. 27).
A major factor contributing to information overload is the direct management of information by the end-user. In principle, however, there is no reason why the management of information resources cannot be carried out by agents, acting autonomously on behalf of the user (Jennings, N. R., Sycara, K, & Wooldridge, 1998, pp. 27).

Custom-Configured Institutional E-Journals

With the ever-increasing availability of articles and other serial publications in electronic format via the web, McKiernan (1998d) has proposed the creation of 'custom-configured institutional E-journals' using the inherent capabilities of intelligent software agents to perform sophisticated identification, retrieval and resource organization on behalf of an individual or group (McKiernan,1998a). This local-level approach is a refinement and enhancement of discipline-based e-journal collections described by Stern (1998) and proposed by the Task Force on Electronic Information Systems of the American Physical Society (American Physical Society. Task Force on Electronic Information Systems, 1991; Schultz, 1992).
At the core of his envisioned system is a Research Interest Profile (RIP) constructed and refined by a cluster of specialized agents that would embody the expressed as well as the implicit interest topics derived from these formal and informal knowledge systems (McKiernan 1998a,1998d). In his model, he proposes the utilization of individual and institutional knowledge systems represented within faculty, departmental, and institutional web pages, and by individual and collective scholarly 'behaviors' (e.g. publication citing and citation, interlibrary loan borrowing, circulation activity, etc.) (McKiernan, 1998a). For an individual, a specialized agents using elements of the RIP established for an individual would search e-journal articles or collections available over the Net, identify those items of high or potential relevance, categorize them according to expressed or implicit preferences, and deliver these to the user's desktop (Duranceau, 1999). For a department or research group, an alternative would be to create a 'virtual' journal that make use of its collective RIP to create a dynamic institutional e-journal comprised of an organized collection of highly-relevant electronic journal articles by broad topic, e.g., Thin-Film Technology (McKiernan, 1998d). While highly-speculative, the need and potential of such model was recently affirmed in a review article by Hendler (1999):
Improvement is also being seen in the effort to make agents more capable. Market forces are now driving online journals and other scientific content providers to explore the greater use of agent-based systems. Current search engines, using keyword based techniques, are inadequate for providing the detailed sort of searches needed by the scientific community. Further, XML and other advanced web languages are being used to organize scientific material, making it easier for web agents to find key aspects of scientific documents (these can be as simple as author names and affiliations or as complex as identifying components in sequences described in figures) (Hendler, 1999).
Although not agent-based, a vision of a customized e-journal collection has been announced by the California State University system. Known as the Journal Access Core Collection (JACC), this initiative seeks to create seamless access to a collection of electronic journals tailored to the specific needs of the institution (California State University, 1999).

Just-in-Time Electronic Collections

While the California State University proposal seeks to identify an essential collection of e-journals by journal title, the growing availability and access to individual journal articles on a 'pay-per-view' basis offers an opportunity to create and implement an augmented custom-configured collection.
Early journals were multidisciplinary, reflecting the broad scientific interests of their sponsoring groups. As scientific specializations emerged and became part of university curricula in the late nineteenth century, the content of journals became increasingly specialized .... In a communication system dependent on print on paper, packing of some number of articles into a journal issue provides convenience for users as well as economies of scale in both production and distribution. An electronic distribution system offers the advantage of more frequent distribution, and in smaller units (Hurd, 1996, p. 25-26).
The benefits and problems of a potential network-based 'acquisition-on-demand' model for library materials date back at least to the beginning of this decade (Bailey, Jr., 1992; Drake, 1992; Grycz, 1992, pp. 12-13), but it was only with the increased maturity of the web and the development of appropriate e-commerce technologies in recent years that the vision of electronic 'just-in-time' acquisitions has become possible. In a newly-created web clearinghouse, McKiernan(1999a) has established a directory of current research projects, products, or services which are investigating or provide desktop access on an 'As Needed' basis
to individual journal, magazine, newspaper, or other serial publication, article, chapter, or paper for which an individual or institution does not have a formal subscription. This clearinghouse also includes bibliographic databases that can be searched for a fixed transactional fee.


With the increasing volume of scholarly publication in both print and electronic form as documented by the growing number of professional journals, and a concurrent increase in informal electronic scholarly communication manifested by the pervasive use of e-mail and availability of electronic discussion groups and conferences, the need for enhanced organization is evident. One approach to providing value-added access to electronic scholarly communication in any of its forms is to adopt, apply, or adapt existing conventional methods of information organization.


The Library of Congress (LC) classification schedules (Library of Congress. Cataloging Policy and Support Office, 1997) are a well-established classification scheme which have been used for generations by libraries to organize a variety of print and non-print media. Within its organized outline of knowledge, this classification system not only denotes subject coverage and content, but information format and conceptual relationships as well. In considering an appropriate organizational framework for electronic resources, these and other similar features and general characteristics have the potential of providing the appropriate context and structure to facilitate access to electronic resources. Recognizing the potential value of this established classification system, McKiernan (1997) created a web-based virtual library of select science and technology scholarly Net resources in fall 1995 using a hypertext outline of the LC classification schedules. This prototype, CyberStacks(sm) (McKiernan, 1995), was among the first to utilize a traditional library practice to manage access to such resources. Subsequently, several dozen sites were identified that also used local, national, or international schemes to organize the web or standard controlled vocabularies (McKiernan, 1996b, 1998c).
Among those sites that applied both a classification system and a controlled vocabulary were Scout Report Signpost (Scout Report Signpost,1999; Glassel & Wells, 1998) a collection organized by an abridged Library of Congress Classification scheme and browsable with an alphabetized list of Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). and OMNI (Organising Medical Networked Information), a collection of Internet resources in medicine, biomedicine, allied health, health management and related topics. In addition to indexing its collection using standard medical subject headings (MeSH® ), the site also provides an opportunity for users to browse and search for terms and concepts related to a search term or phrase using the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS® ) developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) (Index to MeSH98Subject Headings, 1999).


While the adoption of library classification schemes by many libraries and information service agencies for organizing access to web resources is strong evidence that established library organizational methods can offer a framework for effectively identifying and using these resources, the application of this traditional approach requires intensive effort to create and maintain. The inherent limitations of this practice subsequently led to an investigation of efforts that offered automated Web resource categorization (McKiernan, 1996a) and the creation of a clearinghouse that includes profiles of significant projects, services, research, and products that provide this enhancement at the workstation, system, and network levels (McKiernan, 1996d).
At the network level, several notable notable projects were identified: the WAIS/World Wide Web Project undertaken by staffs at the Lund University Library, Sweden, and the National Technological Library of Denmark, and Scorpion, a research initiative of the OCLC Research and Special Projects office. These two latter projects not only endeavored to create enhanced access to Net resources through the automated categorization or organization of Internet resources, but also have extended such categorization to automatic classification. Now completed, the WAIS/World Wide Web Project successfully identified and classified WAIS (Wide Area Information Server) databases within the Universal Decimal Classification (UDC) scheme and built a WAIS subject tree based upon the top two levels of this classification system (Ardö, A., Falcoz, F., Koch, T., Nielsen, M. & Sandfr, M., 1994). Scorpion has sought to create a similar service by analyzing the content of electronic resources and assigning candidates classification numbers from the DDC system (Scorpion Project, 1999). The thesis of Scorpion is that the Dewey Decimal Classification can be used to perform automatic subject assignment for electronic items, i.e., the scheme can be used to classify an item and to suggest associated subject headings to convey content as well.
In addition to identifying significant projects that seek to organize Net resources using traditional library classification systems within an automated environment, this review also identified several projects that employed intelligent software agents or artificial intelligence (Luger & Stubblefield, 1998) to provide or enhance the organization of Net resources. Among the most intriguing is the application of the Kohonen Self-Organizing Map (SOM) neural network approach to Web resource organization, most notably the ET-Space project, a collection of entertainment Web sites (Chen, Schuffels, & Orwig, 1996; ET-Space 1995) developed by Hsinchun Chen of the University of Arizona, a co-participant in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Digital Library Initiative (DLI)(Digital Library Initiative, 1999). The Kohonen SOM is a general unsupervised learning algorithm for analyzing and visualizing high-dimensional statistical datatechnique developed by Teuvo Kohonen and his team at the Neural Networks Research Centre of Helsinki University of Technology, Finland (Kohonen, 1997). The SOM automatically organizes documents into a two-dimensional grid so that related documents appear physically close to each other. Kohonen and his team have also used the SOM approach to organize Internet resources, most notably newsgroup postings in their WEBSOM project (Honkela, T., Kaski, S., Lagus, K. & Kohonen, T., 1996; WEBSOM, 1998).
While these and other projects have focused on the automated categorization or classification of web resources, the technologies employed need not be limited to these select network resources. As digital objects, e-journals and e-articles, as well as other networked publications and communications, are obvious candidates for computer-assisted organization. At one level, one could envision the application of the Kohonen Self-Organizing Map technique to an indexing and abstracting database, such as Ei Compendex®Web(tm) or Medline®. Instead of searching these access tools conventionally using keyword or controlled vocabulary terms or phrases to retrieve a list of records, users would browse concepts found within the text of a self-organized version of the database presented as a multilayered two-dimensional map, or three-dimensional information space, navigating to associated and relevant concepts in an exploration process. With the ever-increasing volume of scholarly publication worldwide and attempts to provide comprehensive coverage by indexing and abstracting services, the benefit of such value-added access and organization is appealing.
The potential for such value-added access and organization has already been demonstrated for newsgroup postings in WEBSOM, which in one project applied the Kohonen SOM technique to self- organize more than one million documents from more than 80 Usenet newsgroups (WEBSOM Map - Million Documents, 1998). An obvious and appropriate application of this organizational technique is to the organization of e-conference postings. As previously noted, this informal means of scholarly communication continues to increase alongside more formal and traditional methods and likewise could be made more useful by automated organizational technologies.
For indexing and abstracting databases, Bruce Schatz of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has facilitated access to the Medline® database by generating a semantic index to this unwieldy 10 million-record database through sophisticated linguistic processing of assigned medical subject headings (Alper, 1998b). The ability to browse the conceptual spaces of e-articles and e-journals, as well as relevant web resources, would also be highly desirable and could truly transform scholarly information access.


Information Visualization

In addition to providing a means of organizing Web resources automatically, SOM applications, as well as others that offer automated categorization, also offer alternative formats and methods for displaying and accessing resources within a defined collection. Such alternative presentations hold the additional potential for accessing and using electronic resources. Among the more notable efforts identified in a review of Information Visualization technologies (McKiernan, 1996c) investigation were SiteMap, a project of Xia Lin, now of Drexel University, and SPIRE(tm), a novel visualization application created by James A. Wise, James J. Thomas, and the team at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington. SiteMap is a Java(tm) application that visualizes a Web site or a collection of links.
Through a WebCrawler, SiteMap first traverses every link of the web site, collects statistical data, and indexes all the words and pages of the site. Based on the statistical data and the indexing, SiteMap converts each page of the site into a vector, and uses these vectors to train a neural network. As the outcome, the trained neural network presents the site in an organized map: subject areas are identified and labeled; their sizes and locations are determined by relationships among the subjects and by their occurrence and co-occurrence frequencies. Links are clustered and located within their respective subject areas, represented by colored dots . To help users interact with the map, SiteMap provides various interactive tools. For example, areas can be labeled in more/less detail through adjusting a scroll bar; links can be selected through clicking or dragging; contents of any selected links can be shown in a separate window, etc. (Lin, 1996).
SPIRE(tm), or Spatial Paradigm for Information Retrieval and Exploration, "accepts large volumes of text in almost any format, determines the relationships within the text, and presents them in a visual format that is natural for the human mind" (Visual Text Analysis, 1996).
SPIRE(tm) graphically displays images based on word similarities and themes in text. No prior knowledge of the information or selection of themes or topics is required. SPIREtm creates its visualizations by processing these similarities into the key topic and themes and organizing the data into visual representations that allow the user to explore and discover relationships between text documents. Two technologies within SPIRE(tm), 'Galaxies' and 'Themescape', provide natural visual metaphors requiring little training to use. Galaxies computes word similarities and patterns in documents and then displays the documents on a computer screen to look like a universe of "docustars." Closely related documents will cluster together in a tight group while unrelated documents will be separated by large spaces. In Themescape, themes within the document spaces appear on the computer screen as a relief map of natural terrain. The mountains in Themescape indicate where themes are dominant; valleys indicate weak themes. Their shapes--a broad butte or high pinnacle--reflect how the thematic information is distributed and related across documents. Themes close in content will be close visually based on the many relationships within the text spaces (Visual Text Analysis, 1996).
There are high computational requirements for creating the displays in the SPIRE(tm) model and it will be years before desktop workstations have the capacity and capability to generate them. However, the development and growth of network computing (NC) may provide the environment in which users would be able to navigate the conceptual space of e-articles and e-journals, and other full-text materials. Although there are a variety of interpretations of network computers (Wayner,1996; see also NC World, 1998), network computers are "little more than a processor chip, some, memory, a screen, a mouse, and a keyboard. They connect through a network cable to a server computer" (Sheehan, 1998, p. 91). With the growth of centralized web-based indexing services as EiCompendex®Web(tm), one could envision similar centralized web-based services for institutional electronic publications in a Net-centric computing environment (Cole, 1999). Instead of a collection of bibliographic records and abstracts, there would exist a site that would serve as a repository of the digital journals, articles, reports, literature, and other e-publications subscribed to or owned by a local library or consortium. On a routine basis, this e-collection would be appropriately processed to create its three-dimensional conceptual landscape. In seeking to identify relevant articles on a specific topic, users, like those using SPIRE(tm), would navigate the concepts embodied within the document corpus and browse related and associated concepts of this visualized collection using a joy-stick or similar interactive tool. Upon focusing on the concept spaces of interest, a user might then initiate a retrieval of the full-text of those documents and display them at her desktop using the appropriate mouse-activated functions.

Auditory Browsing

While many believe that visualization can offer enhanced navigation of networked collections, others believe that visualizations can be difficult to use, in part due to the complexity of some visualization techniques or the inherent limitations of most current workstation monitors. To augment the textual as well as the visual display of Web documents, some researchers have begun to investigate the application of Auditory Display technologies for enhanced graphical user interface (GUI) and Web page navigation (McKiernan, 1999c). Many such approaches have been developed to assist the disabled in their use of the Net and have the potential to offer enhanced navigation and augmented retrieval for others in web or other digital collections. One obvious enhancement to navigating a visualized conceptual space of e-publications would be to have frequency of occurrence of a concept represented by pitch: the higher the occurrence of a concept the higher the pitch of an associated audio cue.

Haptic Interaction

The ability to interact with Web collections can be expected to be further enhanced with the commercialization and use of Haptic Interactive Devices currently in development or recently introduced for the video game market. Haptic Devices are technologies which allow the user to literally feel and touch objects within a computer-based environment. One of the most promising Haptic technologies that can be expected to further facilitate navigation within networked collections in the near future is the FEEL-It Mouse, a recently-announced product from Immersion Corporation.
Using the FEELit Mouse, anything displayed on your screen can be felt as realistic tactile sensations. Drag an icon with the FEELit Mouse and you will feel it stretch as though it were truly elastic. Explore textures, liquids, surfaces, vibrations - the FEELit Mouse allows you to feel almost any physical phenomena, bringing a natural realism to your software interactions that you never before dreamed possible. The FEELit Mouse is not merely a pointer, it is a sophisticated "information technology" that enables bi-directional physical communication between user and machine. The user pushes on the mouse to control the cursor and the mouse pushes back on the user to simulate physical encounters (FEELit Mouse Overview, 1998).
The FEELit Mouse is but one of an increasing number of devices available or in development that that will offer haptic, tactile, or kinesthetic interaction with computer-based or computer-controlled objects (McKiernan, 1998e). One potential application of haptic and related technologies would be to assist users in their evaluation of relevance of e-publications or in selecting sets of documents for subsequent review. One day scholars will navigate a visualized collection of journal articles, determining their relevance not only by their visual presentation but also literally by their perceived weight. To more closely examine these candidate resources, the scholar will literally pull them into a local visualization environment using a device such as a FEELit Mouse.

Virtual Environments

In his keynote address on scholarly communication delivered more than five years ago, Lynch (1993) characterized its transformation as "the use of new technology to change processes in a fundamental way," noting 'shared virtual reality (VR) environments, operating across the network' and distributed multimedia that combined images, sound, text, computer programs, and other objects as truly transformational technologies. While many may have considered this vision more fiction than science, recent network experiments such as the Tele-Immersion Initiative (National Tele-Immersion Initiative, 1998; Tele-Immersion Home Page, 1997) and interface enhancements as the Tele-Cubicle (Components of a Telecubicle, 1997) will soon make it a reality. Such technology will not only offer a telepresence in which scholars will be able to formally and informally collaborate, but provide an environment in which they will directly interact with information resources, with such technology becoming the 'Next-Next Generation' workstation (McKiernan, 1998f).

"In the Beginning ... "

Long before the establishment of the first professional society, scholars sought to convey and discuss their ideas, innovations, and insights with colleagues. What began as individual interaction in a local venue expanded to include more formal communication typified by the publication of observations in the scholarly journal beginning in the 17th century. Prior to their appearance
the majority of communciations among philosophers and scientists were by letter, printed essay, or treatise. The existence of such works was carried by word of mouth. The rise of the scientific societies provided ... the impetus to publish the journal. Members of [a] ... society submitted their own works, either from personal correspondence or items from their libraries, which were to be included in the journal (Kobulnicky, 1977, p. 220).
In the decades that followed, the volume of formal publishing increased so significantly that it became more difficult to identify scholarship in a research field. While the development of indexing and abstracting services and their predecessors have facilitated access to published research, difficulties still remain due in part to the unwieldy growth of scholarly publishing and the inherent limitations of conventional indexing methods and practices. In response to these and other inadequacies, citation indexing arose to identify conceptually-related work.
The Internet and the web have enhanced informal and formal interaction among scholars, expanding on conventional communication and publication forms in a worldwide venue. Although the electronic environment has facilitated scholarly interaction, it has also exacerbated it as well, providing access to more information and more formats daily . Yet, while many recognize the potential benefit of advanced technologies for communication, many electronic resources continue to be managed in conventional and traditional ways. We continue to treat digital objects as physical objects, ignoring their malleable nature. In general, the digital character of digital objects is not exploited as fully as it might be. To fully utilize electronic publications and associated finding aids, we must "divest ourselves of many of ... [our] paper-based concepts" (Cornish, 1997, p. 170). As noted by Crawford (1996, p. 6):
the conditions that gave birth to the journal and the book, and that made each in its time the ideal medium for communicating, have changed. In the digital world, information conveyance devices that provide identification, transmission, and storage functions are no longer discrete physical entities.
Established techniques and technologies for identifying and managing these and other electronic resources are proving less effective with ever-increasing growth. Today, we have the technological potential for designing and developing digital systems that provide appropriate value-added organization and access to fully utilize digital information sources (Crawford, 1996, p.6). While many emerging technologies are currently limited to experimental domains (Alper, 1998a), in time they will become conventional tools for scholars in accessing and using information resources in the 21st century (McKiernan, 1998b).


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