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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Winter 2002

Book Reviews

New Trajectories of the Internet

Jeff Alger
Head, Weigel Library of Architecture, Planning and Design
Kansas State University
jalger@ksu.edu

New trajectories of the Internet: umbrellas, traction, lift and other phenomena. Stephen E. Arnold. Tetbury, England: Infonortics Ltd., 2001. 248 pp. $85.00 (ISBN 1-873699-73-5).

New trajectories of the Internet: umbrellas, traction, lift and other phenomena is presented primarily from a business perspective. Arnold examines how new uses of technology can provide information delivery and manage the information content that an organization's customers or users are seeking. Businesses are searching for cost-effective, efficient and workable solutions to technology problems.

The search for such solutions is the driving force behind the development of the Internet as an "application delivery platform." Arnold states that "in the 1990s, some people could connect to applications running on the Internet. Developers today create applications for the Internet." From a business perspective, this trend has led to the development of the Application Service Provider (ASP) which Arnold likens to "a 21st century timesharing company." ASPs provide access to application software that is housed on a remote server and not on the client's desktop or server.

Arnold provides an interesting look at the history and future of searching the Internet. As most librarians are aware, quality searches on the Internet are not the norm. You either get too much or nothing at all. Arnold explains how different search engine technologies operate, what their downside is, and what direction search function development is taking. Research into natural language processing (NLP) is the main focus and although many search services claim NLP capabilities, most fall far short of actually delivering quality results. Numerous examples, tables and URLs provide the reader with loads of information on the various search services and where to go for even more comparisons. From the standpoint of someone who is interested in the future of searching the Internet, this chapter alone makes the book worth reading.

Content management is another area that Arnold explores in-depth. Yahoo! and AOL are examples of companies that have changed the way they provide information in response to the expectations of users. Both provide information in a much more personalized manner, in other words, they are developing 'relationships' with consumers in an effort to keep them on site by providing much more than just a place to search for information. At Yahoo!, users can get headline news, shop, chat, email, get financial information and many other services in addition to the search feature or taxonomic directory listings.

Arnold indicates that the future of Internet applications can be found in peer-to-peer computing (P2P) , virtual communities, wireless technologies and extensible markup language. P2P has changed the face of how information can be delivered on the Internet as evidenced by Napster. Arnold states, "peer-to-peer architectures move functions once reserved for a centralised server to clients located anywhere and everywhere."

Overall, this is an informative and interesting book though at times the jargon slows the pace down a bit. A glossary is provided though Arnold does an excellent job of defining terminology in the text. As mentioned before, numerous tables, illustrations, examples and URLs provide additional information that is helpful and informative.

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