PaidContent.org is a self-described, "independent service for the digital media and technology executives," led by business and technology journalist Rafat Ali.
The site covers anything and everything related to for-fee digital content, including wireless content and services, digital delivery of print materials, subscription technologies, and corporate initiatives; and also offers links to other news coverage and relevant resources. Information is presented on the site, as well as via daily enewsletters to subscribers highlighting headlines and links to information from a plethora of sources.. Newsletters can also be delivered to wireless phones or AvantGo-enabled PDAs. "Rafat Ali's PaidContent.org is all content all the time," says contributing editor David Scott. "The site and daily email newsletter covering the ‘Economics of Content' is a refreshing addition to a world where too many commentators focus on gadgets and widgets and technology at the expense of the content itself." Recent additions to PaidContent. org include a classified page, a vendor subsection, and a separate micropayments category with archived material from the past year. The site's target readers include CEOs, CTOs, marketing chiefs, entrepreneurs, analysts, service professionals, journalists, and other executives.
As digital reference services encroach more and more on the traditional role of the library, the function of reference librarians has shifted as well.
QuestionPoint, a collaborative reference service created by the OCLC and the Library of Congress in conjunction with the Global Reference Network, leverages the knowledge of individual librarians with the convenience and collaborative capabilities of the Internet. An outgrowth of the Library of Congress-sponsored Collaborative Digital Reference Service, it is a Web service that allows patrons to submit queries by visiting the Web site of a participating library. If the library is unable to effectively respond to the query, it can use the collaboration features of QuestionPoint to send the query to all participating libraries, or to members of a particular consortium. An optional, enhanced module also includes streaming video, chat, and voice-over IP capabilities. "QuestionPoint is the major virtual reference service provided by the professional library community," says Mick O'Leary, EContent contributing editor and library director at Frederick Community College in Myersville, Maryland. "This distinguishes it from the hodgepodge of Web-based services, a group of variable and uncertain quality. As the largest library-based service, it combines a sophisticated data-management system for routing and replying to questions, with the reference expertise of hundreds of prominent libraries." Libraries interested in ordering QuestionPoint should contact OCLC, where they can receive pricing information on the three different subscription packages available. (www.loc.gov; www.oclc.org; www.questionpoint.org)
A word-of-mouth movement has made WeatherBug arguably the most successful push-content technology available.
With virtually no marketing or advertising, WeatherBug has amassed approximately 12 million users and now offers both a free download and a premium, ad-free version for $19.95 a year. The popularity of the free model lies in both the practicality of its content, and a creative approach to advertising. "WeatherBug has been wildly innovative in bringing new business models to the content space involving advertising especially," says EContent contributing editor, Steve Smith. "Its sponsorships literally wrap an adclient around the memory-resident WeatherBug for a full day so that the user gets exposed to the brand all day." And yet WeatherBug manages to do so without blocking information or taking up valuable desk-top real estate; the window can be minimized to just the current temperature. When a weather advisory or watch is issued, a "bug" chirps and flashes over the temperature icon to unobtrusively alert the user that important weather information is available. WeatherBug receives information from 6,000 local weather stations and its parent company, AWS Convergence Technologies, Inc. has been tapped by the National Weather Service to provide forecast models to government agencies, the military, and emergency managers as part of a public-private partnership to bolster homeland security.
World Wide Web Consortium
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was formed in 1994 to establish recommendations to promote interoperability on the Web and its impact grows stronger each year.
Comprised of approximately 400 member organizations worldwide, the W3C is hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Laboratory of Computer Science (MIT/LCS) in the United States, ERCIM in Europe, and Keio University in Japan. Although the W3C does not technically create standards, they are perhaps the most influential body concerning the adoption of standards. The three main long-term goals of the W3C are to make the Web universally accessible to everyone, to develop a semantic Web where individuals are able to use the Internet and its resources to best suit their needs, and to create a Web of trust where thought is given concerning the legal, commercial, and social issues raised by the Internet. One of the most significant contributions of the W3C has been XML, which they began as a project in the 1990s and accepted as an official recommendation in 1998; it is currently supervised by their XML Working Group.