Stone Soup(sm):Component Integration and Distribution in the Development of New Millennium OPACs

Sun Sep 21 14:13:41 EDT 1997

                          Stone Soup(sm) :
          Component Integration and Distribution in the
                Development of New Millennium OPACs

        In our ongoing efforts to develop clearinghouses to support
researchers in creating the next generation of on-line public access
catalog systems, we have been taking a topical approach with surveys
of data mining and knowledge discovery, concept maps, structured
browsing, the use of agent technology, and visualization to name just
a few. For a complete overview of this work, please visit the Net
Net Projects page of the CyberStacks(sm) at

        It should be quite clear from the breadth and depth of this
work that  no one approach will offer a silver bullet to meet our ever
more complex information retrieval needs. Each New Millennium OPAC
can be expected to support many ways of viewing and exploring its
collection and will accordingly draw on a range of sources and
both traditional and unconventional.

        Unfortunately with the resource constraints and vagaries of
funding that we all face, it is unlikely that any one site will be
able to independently develop the critical mass of functionality
J.C.R. Licklider had envisioned in his seminal work of the same title,
which had been released by The Massachusetts Institute of Technology
in 1965.

        Fortunately, the Net has ushered in a new era of collaborative
efforts across institutions which is manifesting itself at the
technological level with the widespread exploration of distributed
systems, knowledge representation & ontology development, object
oriented programing and design pattern techniques, new languages
better suited to the integration of distributed code, platform
independent computing environments, and related topics.

        Cross-platform development environments such as FramerD,
Scheme-48, Juice, and Java make it increasingly practical to incorporate
code modules from other sites in one's own programs. At the same,
the emergence of  high-level networking packages in these programming
languages makes it just as convenient to access and provide such
functionality indirectly over the Net.

        Moreover, this trend to greater modularization of systems with
well factored designs makes them less brittle and static, hinting at a
day in which the Library Catalog will look more like a network operating
with dynamically extensible design opening the door for end-users to
augment its capabilities. (Such a vision lies at the core of my
own research in The Continuity Project, an initiative which seeks
to integrate a number of new facilities along with Epoch a literate
development environment and end-user extension framework through
which the system can evolve over time. - PJW).

        And yet, many of these developments are seen as belonging
primarily in the domain main of the AI, CSCW, CASE, and Computer Science
communities, while information about potentially useful tools, libraries,
information remote services in the context of OPAC development
is much harder to access.

        The Stone Soup(sm) clearinghouse will provide a jump-point
for the Library and Information Science community to exchange code,
tools, and to otherwise link up their efforts. Like the ingredients
proverbial Stone Soup each of our systems could become so much better
if augmented with services offered by our neighbors, e.g. a
visualization tool would be infinitely more interesting when applied
WordNet than to a than to a simulated database.)

        To this end, we would appreciate hearing from any researchers
offering or currently making use of library code, databases & knowledge
bases, or computational services. Tell us what requirements must be
met by other sites that would like to leverage these offerings in
applications, including any legal encumbrances on their use.  We
would also like to hear how other sites are already using your tools.

        We are also interested in any articles, reports, papers that
describe the design and development of OPAC software components, test
beds, frameworks, and distributed services.
frameworks, and distributed services.

        Individuals interested in contributing to a possible anthology
on Libraries of the Future & New Millennium OPACs that would explore
representative technologies along with the collaborative software
development issues raised herein are encouraged to contact the
clearinghouse coordinator, Peter J. Wasilko.

        Projects will be incorporated within the Stone Soup(sm)
clearinghouse at

as they are identified and reviewed.

        As always, any and all leads, suggestions, recommendations, opinions,
opinions, citations, etc. would be most welcome!

        Please direct all electronic and hard copy submissions to
Peter J. Wasilko


                Peter J. Wasilko, Esq., J.D., LL.M.
                Director, The Continuity Project
                3 Meadowbrook Drive
                Ossining, NY 10562-2916
                futurist at

                Gerry McKiernan, A.B., M.S.
                Curator, CyberStacks(sm)
                Iowa State University
                Ames, IA 50011
                gerrymck at

        P.S. For a wonderful treatment of end-user programming issues see "A
Small Matter of Programming : Perspectives on End User Computing" by Bonnie A.
Nardi, MIT Press, 1993, ISBN: 0-262-14053-5.

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