3.00 FYI France: Enewsletter and archive

by Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us

Nov 15, 1992 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on November 15, 1992. This particular issue originally was distributed in two parts, as indicated below.
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From: Jack Kessler 
Subject: Europe, at least, discovers the users -- Parts 1 and 2 (15 Nov 92)

November 15, 1992

	FYI France: Europe, at least, discovers the users -- Parts 1 and 2

by 	Jack Kessler 

        | |         ...The "OSI Seven-Layer Model", as seen by a 
      =======       pretty rowdy crowd of networkers, librarians,
      ||   ||   7!  and Italian waiters at the banquet of the 
     =======        Network Services Conference at Pisa, 
     ||   ||   6    November 2-4...
    ||   ||   5     ..Hey, it was late at night, and we'd all 
   =======          worked long and hard, and the food was good, 
   ||   ||   4      and there was lots of wine...
  ||   ||   3       
 =======            Conferences in Europe are a little different
 ||   ||   2        from conferences in other places. Ever try to
=======             build ten different six-foot towers-of-Pisa out
||   ||   1         of place cards, while "O Sole Mio" is crashing
                    out from the tables at the back?

     The idea of a "Network 'Services' Conference" came to Europe
last week. It hasn't arrived in the US or elsewhere, yet, and in
all cases is a bit overdue. There was much of interest for anyone
who loves libraries, books, networked information, or European ways
of looking at things, and for anyone blessed or cursed with the
need for working on a computer.

     The Pisa conference brought some leading lights from North
American information networking -- Peter Deutsch, creator of
"Archie" (not the comic book, although he carries that with him),
and John "Matrix" Quarterman -- together with network leaders from
all over Europe, to discuss what to do about a new topic: the
users. There were many librarians there: most of us were left
fascinated, but also shaking our heads and groaning. It seems that
the great amount of work so far done to help users on the networks
leaves much still to be done, in both Europe and elsewhere. 

     The conference, sponsored by "EARN / the European Academic and 
Research Network" and a group of several other organizations,
attracted 360 participants, from 46 countries, and by all accounts
was highly provocative and successful. There will be another one
next year, it seems. Sessions covered "New Global Information
Tools" (World-Wide Web, WAIS, Gopher, "Hyper-G", Archie, and the
"Soft Pages Project"), "Beyond ASCII" (imaging, and ISO standards),
"The Electronic Library" (projects in Israel and France, "The
Virtual Library", Project "PegUn/Janus" at Columbia U.),
"Delivering Messages to the Desktop", "Central and Eastern Europe",
"User Support", "Special Interest Communities" ("Electronic Pierce", 
biology, chemistry, "Human Genome"), "Managing Network 
Information Services", and "Information Overload". It was 
fascinating to see, with my American eyes, the new work and 
different approaches being adopted in Europe, and to appreciate the 
very different European version of the birthpangs of this technology's 

Keynote: Peter Deutsch, of "Archie"

     The first keynote speaker, Peter Deutsch, delivered a
fascinating and funny talk -- speaking at his accustomed rate,
described as "56k with no flow-control" -- about the necessity now
for "building networks, not just network links", for "real
services, not just projects", and for "not explaining, but hiding"
ftp and the various other user's tools so far developed. "Noone
ever wanted a 1/4 inch drill bit," he asserted, "they wanted a 1/4
inch hole." The time has come, he said, to provide real information
on the networks, and not just tools for getting there.

     Deutsch distinguished four purposes for existing network
tools: 1) Class Discovery -- more tools are needed, he said, 2)
Instance Location (indexing tools) -- we have lots now, 3) Access
(ftp, etc.) -- lots, 4) Management of Information (WAIS, 3W/WWW 
at CERN) -- we could use some more.

     The tools and projects which exist, he said fall into four
groups: 1) Interactive Message Systems -- (telnet, rlogin, talk,
chat, MUDD / "Multi-user Dangerous Dragons"), 2) Store-and-Forward
-- (e-mail, news), 3) Information Delivery (anonymous ftp, 
Gopher, 3W/WWW, Prospero, WAIS, ALEX) -- the point being now to 
begin hiding these, hide the network, make it transparent, and, 4) Tools for 
Finding Things -- Peter's "own particular sandbox" at the moment, he says, in 
which he's finding that, a "gigabyte no longer is that big of a deal".

     But the networks will be "useful only if populated with useful
information", Deutsch said. "Librarians," moreover, "should be
running the networks, not the UNIX weenies." He is concerned about
the latter's penchant for reinventing the wheel first developed by
the former. "It's going to be services," he concluded, "if someone
around you starts talking technology, watch out."

Imaging Projects

     Anne Mumford, in "Beyond ASCII", pointed out that the problem
with images arriving now is their use, rather than the more
technical problems of their storage: image users will want to cut
and paste, insert, catalog, index, and change formats, just as they
now do with ASCII, she said. She mentioned CARL's Group 3 fax format 
journal project, "CORE / Chemistry Online Retrieval Experiment" which 
stores the page and ASCII and a picture caption index, Northern Telecom's 
"CGM / Computer Graphics Metafile"format, and Elsevier's project for 
issuing 35 imaged journals on cd-rom.

Standards: first round

     Borka Jerman-Blazic described the Herculean / Augean effort
currently going in to develop international standards for software.
The world has over 3000 spoken languages, she pointed out, over 100
of these written: 50% use the Latin alphabet, but the other 50% use
over 23 different alphabets, counting only those which have over 1
million users. So users come to the networks familiar with Latin
diacritic and non-diacritic alphabets, non-Latin alphabets
(Cyrillic, Greek), diacritical scripts (Arabic, Hebrew), and
syllabic (Kanna Japanese) and ideographic (Chinese) written modes
of expression. One might just make them all learn American English,
but then again they might not want to, and they simply might not.
ISO 10646, a standard on which she's working, specifies over 65,000
characters in world languages: she bravely asserted both that it
will accomodate UNICODE, and that conforming commercial products
will begin to appear next year.

The French -- libraries, and ILL

     Christine Deschamps delivered an elegant overview, despite
technical / microphone interruptions, of the vast array of current
events in France. She described their work on a national ILL "union
catalog": SQL request handling, an X.25 ILL system which batches
requests, and a project to develop an "OSI / Interlending OSI 
Network" (ISO 10161 and 10162) to connect their effort to similar
projects in the Netherlands and the UK. In document delivery, she
mentioned the now-ended "FOUDRE" project, which used digital
scanning and attempted to capture and store text, as it was
scanned, for future digital use: this ran into both money and
copyright problems. A newer "EDIL / Electronic Document Interchange 
for Libraries" project, with the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and
Portugal is proceeding, although there still are copyright
problems, she said.


     Jill Foster, one of the Conference organizers, emphasized the
pc background of users, in her presentations on "User Support". She
mentioned the large and expanding work group on User Support, "RARE 
ISUS WG", which now draws from many different international groups,
and itself supports user-support work groups in fields as diverse
as cetacean studies, developmental psychiatry, diabetes studies,
and marine technology. An excellent report edited by Foster, which
arrived belatedly after wrestling its way through Italian customs,
summarizes European efforts in the user support area ("User Support
and Information Services in the RARE Community -- A Status Report",
RARE Technical Report 1, RARE Working Group 3, Subgroup USIS, 1st
edition, March, 1992). Taking a phrase from her countryman, Lorcan
Dempsey, Jill tirelessly reminded the conference that the networks
now, "present users with a flea market, when what's needed is a
department store": user support badly needs some such network
organizing, she said.

User Support at Cornell

     Carole Lambert, from Cornell, described the hard-nosed
managerial analysis to which they subjected their local version of
the "computer-center-versus-library" competition in information
provision which plagues every campus. "We hit the wall," she said,
"with a service that wouldn't scale": 1) systems consulting services 
were one-on-one, 2) classroom training focused on skills
rather than on use and resources, 3) documentation was labor-
intensive, with limited distribution, and 4) accounting went to and
not always through a central bottleneck. Their new model, she said,
presents a "scalable method of delivery": they decided to, 1)
leverage the technology -- use their own computer and network 
technology to develop and disseminate user tools, 2) leverage the human 
resources -- they build campus coalitions, shared solutions,
use e-mail and other techniques to sustain campus contacts, and
"eliminate redundancies" (dangerous-sounding term, I think, for
cutting out duplications). Most of all though, at Cornell, they are
trying to change the attitudes and expectations of the users: "we
want to make independence easier than dependence," said Lambert,
"we teach the users problem diagnosis and resolution along with
traditional user skills...we will be there, but we want them to
rely on themselves more than they rely on us."

Costs -- an idea whose time is about to arrive

     T. Johannsen, originally of Dresden and now of just-north-of-
Tokyo, made a fascinating presentation of "SoftPages", his
"distributed database for fileserver contents" (e.g. Archie, WAIS),
which has a built-in module for computing usage "cost", in terms of
"economic distance" -- using speed, tariff, traffic and priority
parameters. Johannsen's presentation struck a chord in the
conference: everyone is getting a new awareness of usage costs, as
the "academic test-bed" history of the networks recedes and the
"commercial" age dawns, and you could see many minds in the
audience quickly considering the logistics of building in similar
"costing" modules to other tools, following Johannsen's suggestion.
(The NREN legislation in the US calls for precisely this sort of new 
approach: "The Network shall...have accounting mechanisms which
allow users or groups of users to be charged for their usage of copy-
righted materials..." High Performance Computing Act of 1991.t.1,s.102,c,6.)

in Part 2: Preservation and a comprehensive approach at 
Columbia Law, Quarterman, and, "Conclusions?".


November 15, 1992

FYI France : :Europe, at least, discovers the users -- Part 2 of 2

by	Jack Kessler

     This is the second of two parts of a report on the "Network Services 
Conference" held at Pisa, Italy, November 2-4: a first
effort, in Europe or elsewhere, to address "the users" as a formal
part of networked information.

A Comprehensive Approach at Columbia Law

     Willem Scholten presented Project Janus, Columbia University
law library's effort to, 1) avoid microforms, 2) bring the library to the 
user (Manhattan presents critical space problems), and, 3) adapt to 
changing patterns of information distribution. The project
involves participation by Thinking Machines Corp., the university's
main and health sciences libraries, the law library, and the United Nations 
library human rights collection. One critical goal was
preservation of the law library's unique and rapidly-deteriorating
collections of Nuremberg trial (375,000 double-sided pages) and Rosenberg 
trial (250,000 double-sided pages) documents. Their solution uses
a special "XWAIS", a highly-customized version of the publicly-
available WAIS tool, digitization with ocr, optical and magnetic
tape, and Z39.50 and ISO's SR/1, two "Sun Sparc workstation
networks", a "Xerox Docutech 7000 scanner and ocr system", and a
"CM2-32K Thinking Machines parallel processing super-computer": all
the latest stuff. Many hands have been in on the project: the law
school publishes 13 legal periodicals, for example, and the goal of
getting such publishing costs back in-house is being approached
through SGML and e-publishing on the system. The reference desk is
interested in information which has time value and takes too long
to get into print: the system loaded the North American Free Trade 
Agreement recently and at last count was getting 200-250 "hits" per
day on that resource, and similar figures have been achieved for
online versions of the Maastricht Treaty and the papers of the 
Rio Conference on the Environment. One other library dream, of loading
fulltext direct from commercial publishers, also at least is under
discussion with Simon & Schuster: user licences for the library,
based on a flat fee with royalties for downloading.

Closing: John "Matrix" Quarterman -- the Global view

     John Quarterman began his conference-closing keynote address
with the warning that he wouldn't make predictions -- "my crystal
ball's kinda cloudy", he said -- and then proceeded to make them.
He has put together a wonderfully-interesting series of maps, all
using data taken from various domain-name registries and servers,
showing where all the network use is taking place in the world
(surprising activity patterns in Iceland, Australia, Moscow, 
Hong Kong), and suggesting a continuing rate of usage growth so
phenomenal as to be catastrophic for both the networks and
librarians. It seems still that only Quarterman, despite his good
influence exerted since the 1988 publication of his book, "The
Matrix", has the breadth of vision, and the patience, to look at
all the world's information networks -- Internet, EARN, BITNET,
etc. -- as a whole.

Conclusions? 1 -- the impending invasion of the commercial 

     The real problem, lurking behind most of the conference talk, 
is what to do about the impending invasion of the commercial
market. The commercial publishers are poised to plunge into the
little world of academic networking, we heard again and again.
Quarterman showed us a fascinating map, on which the portion of
world network use devoted to "purely academic" activity -- which
represented ALL network use a short time ago -- now is small and is
shrinking rapidly: "academic use" will become an insignificant part
of networking as a whole, shortly, he asserted.

Conclusions? 2 -- the "academic model will not scale"

     The problem, then, acknowledged again and again by US and non-
US attendees, is that "the academic model will not scale": as
network use grows, the tools and structures and carefully-developed
"standards" -- think of MARC, SGML, ftp, telnet, 
opac user interfaces, even ASCII -- will not satisfy a non-academic,
international, user public: a despairing conclusion -- one which
left several librarian-users in the audience feeling a little
abandoned. "Information overload" then, inevitably, was debated:
several people felt that a bad network situation in this respect is
about to get much, much, worse. 

Conclusions? 3 -- "the academic model had BETTER scale"

     Some braver souls, though, insisted that private industry will
need some standards as well: if not necessarily for sharing
information  easily as an altruistic goal, as the academic world
wants, then at least for ensuring the compatibility of its own
hardware, software, and services with a particular marketing
structure: IBM products and services talking to each other,
Siemens' doing the same, all the components of a local or wide-are
network -- serving fulltext newspapers to northern California,
Shakespeare to the entire Ivy League, or Montaigne (or Simenon) to
Touraine -- able to communicate among themselves. Private industry
will have to start somewhere in all this, and that beginning may
well be made with at least some of the elaborate tools and
standards which have been assembled by the careful academic
community today. Such, at least, is the hope.

Conclusions? 4 -- the Atlantic is a very wide pond

     It was very interesting for this American to note the
fundamental difference between the US and the European approaches
on the standards point. Much good work on standards is being done
on both sides of the Atlantic. But the intense preoccupation with
standards and consensus-building in general is markedly different
in Europe than it is in the US. Great levels of bureaucracy, much
tedious negotiation, and great levels of frustration, all are
devoted to accomplishing the smallest point of agreement in Europe,
ruled constantly by the conviction that without some sort of 
"top-down" agreement, no "bottom-up" effort will succeed. Not that
bureaucracy and haggling don't take place in the US context but
there seems to be more in Europe, and it's much more intense, and
deemed to be much more necessary. Law students everywhere learn
that Anglo-American law may be built piecemeal, upon the "Common
Law", and upon individual cases, while Continental law is a
seamless web of "codes", which are thought to cover all conceivable
instances. There is this same longing for "codification" in
European networking standards work: piecemeal, such as has
characterized the evolution of the Internet, will not do in Europe
-- they need "top-down" codes and standards, before they can
proceed rather than after -- a major difference from the US
approach. Conference chair Jennings mused about this, pointedly, to
the several US attendees and speakers: "You must remember that you
are one, gigantic, country, while we are by comparison a very
large, but still very disunited, collection of very small
countries." It is interesting to consider whether the US or the
European "consensus-model" will more readily "scale up" to the
rapidly-evolving world information Matrix.

"Information Overload"

     "Network Services '92", then, came to the conclusion that it
may well become impossible to service the networks during the next
few years: too many, too much, understood and aided by too few. The
glass which appears half empty, however, also is half full. There
will be many more users and many more things to do. Conference
chair Jennings also pointed out, however, that the evolution of the
telephone was aided by a paradigm shift: fears early in this
century that there never would be enough telephone operators were
answered by the users becoming the operators themselves. Just so,
Jennings insists, a paradigm shift will occur in networked
information. The bottlenecks which exist today -- of costs and
hardware capacities and user training and clumsy interfaces -- may
be resolved ultimately by similar shifts: "transparent" interfaces,
"invisible" technologies, "paperless" libraries, "hypertext"
organization and access -- it's hard to tell what from here, but

A Role for Librarians -- the librarian's glass may be half full

     One final optimistic note sounded by the conference left the
librarians in the audience feeling smug. Already, no one can FIND
anything on the "nets", and it seems that this problem is not going
away: it seems, in fact, that the entry of the commercial market is
about to make the "navigating" problem much, much, worse.
Navigating through information resources is what librarians do:
it's what we've done for centuries. It is nice to feel needed: it's
reassuring to discover how badly we're going to be needed by the
information network users in Europe and elsewhere during the next
few years.

Italy, and Europe

     An American can't attend a conference in Pisa without noting
that the leaning tower still is leaning -- more, these days -- and
that the streets of nearby Florence have suffered a discernible
increase in their level of dirt since the '60s. The hotel we were
in could lose four of its three stars easily. Still, there's never
been an era in its history when Italy hasn't been described by
foreigners in terms of its dust and its noise and its chaos:
capable of great heights and great depths, like any other human
hive. And still, as an American, it's hard to get used to the idea
that you can walk down a dark, deserted urban street at night
without incredible fear. There are many US-European differences,
among them differences in approaches to networked information. Any
US reader of this is highly recommended to take a look at what is
happening in information networks on the European side: they are
looking at users, they are more concerned -- perhaps wisely,
perhaps not effectively, so -- with standards, and they sponsor
conferences which feature good food, good parties, and Bach in the
Pisa Duomo.


ISSN 1071 - 5916



FYI France (sm)(tm) e - newsletter        ISSN 1071 - 5916

      |           FYI France (sm)(tm) is a monthly electronic newsletter,
      |           published since 1992 as a small - scale, personal,
      |           experiment, in the creation of large - scale
      |           "information overload", by Jack Kessler. Any material
     / \          written by me which appears in FYI France may be
    -----         copied and used by anyone for any good purpose, so
   //   \\        long as, a) they give me credit and show my e - mail
  ---------       address and, b) it isn't going to make them money: if
 //       \\      if it is going to make them money, they must get my
                  permission in advance, and share some of the money
which they get with me. Use of material written by others requires their
permission. FYI France archives are at  http://infolib.berkeley.edu
(search for FYIFrance), or via gopher to  infolib.berkeley.edu 72
(path: 3. Electronic Journals (Library-Oriented)/ 6. FYIFrance/ , or
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econference archive), or via telnet to  a.cni.org , login  brsuser
(PACS / PACS-L econference archive), or at  http://www.fyifrance.com .
Suggestions, reactions, criticisms, praise, and poison - pen letters       
all will be gratefully received at  kessler@well.sf.ca.us .

        Copyright 1992- by Jack Kessler, all rights reserved.    

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