July 08, 2003
The Wetware of the Digital Divide

Eszter Hargittai worries not about the hardware or the software but about the... wetware, I guess, of the "digital divide": Eszter's Blog Entry: "It is not Google but search savvy that may make the Web God, and only for some" (07/08/2003): ...Results from a study I conducted on average users’ ability to find information on the Web suggest that there is great variance in whether people can locate different types of content online and their efficiency in doing so. These findings imply that simply offering an Internet connection to those without access will not alleviate differences or the so-called "digital divide".... Referring to Google has become the high-culture status symbol of Web use. When presented with an information-seeking task, the supposed savvy searcher quickly suggests the use of Google. However, just like simply referring to the latest opera at the Met should not be equated with expertise in the genre, a throwaway comment about Google should not make us think that people know how to find information online... Others discuss the same issue, but from a different perspective: Alcibiades: I would recommend, for that, Jack Balkin at Yale and taxpolicy.blogspot.com. Thrasymachus: Amazing. What else useful is there on the internet...

Posted by DeLong at 07:34 PM

July 05, 2002
MIT Thinks About How to Build the Universal Library

One of the problems of the information age has been to figure out how to build the digital library of everything. It looks as though we are evolving a distributed system for indexing and evaluating the quality of information in the universal digital library: it's called Google. But how do we build the tools needed so that everything gets into the digital library? That's still a big question. MIT is trying to solve it. The Chronicle: 7/5/2002: 'Superarchives' Could Hold All Scholarly Output The most ambitious and most closely watched superarchive is being developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is called DSpace, and its goal is to collect research material from nearly every professor at the institute --Athough participation will be voluntary. "We want to give faculty the infrastructure that supports alternative forms of publishing," says MacKenzie Smith, associate director of technology for MIT's libraries. Over the past two years, officials at MIT have been building a set of software tools to support the repository, and to make it easy for professors to submit material. Those tools are nearly ready, and four departments and programs at MIT will be testing them this summer. Beginning this fall, MIT plans...

Posted by DeLong at 09:24 AM