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BEST PRACTICES SERIES

The EContent team suggests some sites, projects, and resources that—while outside the scope of the EContent 100 list—are well worth taking a closer look at.

A9.com

Ever get the feeling that your search is being watched? A9.com, a subsidiary of Amazon.com (which consistently stays at the forefront of leveraging digital content to support ecommerce) can "remember" what sites a user visited and when, to the minute. Beyond bookmarking it, tech-savvy users will find A9's OpenSearch feature very beneficial. In addition to publishing in any format on the site (HTML, XML, ATOM), the OpenSearch Query Syntax allows the user to publish a URL via a search engine, and a search aggregator can use that URL to build requests for the search engine. Information Today, Inc.'s NewsBreaks editor Paula Hane says, "The innovative A9.com service, which emphasizes customization and personalization, is known for letting users search multiple sources, including many specialty databases and even sites like the British Library, and employ selectable and adjustable columns for the results." Launched in October 2003, A9.com researches and builds technologies to improve the search experience for ecommerce applications. One significant search feature employs Yellow Book city-block maps to allow the user to browse detailed photos of restaurants and other businesses. Users also have a variety of search options to help them find movies on IMDb.com or word definitions on GuruNet. Multiple sources can provide Internet users with more information as well as more headaches, trudging through URL after URL. A9 has set out to make searching multiple sources a more user-friendly task. As Hane says, A9 is yet another tool to watch from Amazon, "a company pushing the virtual-reality envelope as it lets users virtually stroll up and down a street to view offices and shops."

(www.a9.com)



First Monday

Nobody likes Mondays, but EContent contributing editor Martin White says there's a lot to like about First Monday. "The value of First Monday is that it sets econtent technology in the context of global, social, political, and business developments through papers that are well-researched and accessible to a wide audience," he says. As the title implies, the free, peer-reviewed Internet journal that discusses the Internet is published the first Monday of the month. Multiple experts contribute their knowledge about a particular section of the vast Internet in each issue. For example, in July 2005, eight stories were each written by a different contributor with topics ranging from a new method for demonstrating user testing to participatory storytelling in journalism and Web search interfaces for older adults. Each issue includes a "recommend link" where readers can check off articles they recommend to other visitors. The publication strives to stay current on the constantly shifting Internet landscape; recent articles discussed podcasting as a business model and the issues surrounding phishing. Established in 1997, the Media Center was designed for those users who want to integrate digital media into their organization's business strategies. Among its extensive research are discussions about how prevalent mobile phones are in society now and how the role of journalists will change in the future. EContent contributing editor David Meerman Scott says, "With high-level events such as We Media; original research; and their own blog covering user-generated media like blogs and wikis, interactive media, and more; the big thinkers at the the Media Center help publishers, content technology companies, and plugged-in individuals make sense of what the future holds and how news and information can create a better-informed society in a connected world." 

(www.firstmonday.com)


The Media Center

Established in 1997, the Media Center was designed for those users who want to integrate digital media into their organization's business strategies. Among its extensive research are discussions about how prevalent mobile phones are in society now and how the role of journalists will change in the future. EContent contributing editor David Meerman Scott says, "With high-level events such as We Media; original research; and their own blog covering user-generated media like blogs and wikis, interactive media, and more; the big thinkers at the the Media Center help publishers, content technology companies, and plugged-in individuals make sense of what the future holds and how news and information can create a better-informed society in a connected world."

(www.mediacenter.org)



NISO

Founded in 1939, the National Information Standards Organization is a nonprofit association responsible for identifying, maintaining, developing, and publishing technical standards to manage information in the digital environment. "Standards may not be the hippest of econtent topics, but we'd still be shooting it out in the Wild Wild Web without them," explains EContent editor Michelle Manafy. "The emergence of XML and other Web services has elevated the digital content industry from every-platform-for-itself chaos to interoperability that truly serves the end users." Let it be known that standards don't just appear out of thin air. According to the site, "it can take up to five years for a good idea to advance to being a formally approved standard." Among the standards they helped develop are bibliographic references and OpenURL Framework Applications, just two of the 35 standards already published by the American National Standards Institute. The NISO clearly is helping to set the standard on standard-setting.

(www.niso.org)



NYPL Digital Gallery

"Public libraries represent more egalitarian access to content," says Manafy, who believes that Digital Gallery provides an excellent example of this ideal. Digital Gallery, a free service of the New York Public Library, is intended to allow anyone to browse and view images from a variety of disciplines, including Arts & Literature, Culture & Society, and History & Geography, to name a few. Currently, there are more than 200,000 individual items to view with the goal being 500,000. The images have been captured digitally to preserve their value while the library staff has stamped the previously collected images with metadata to identify them. The site is more than just a vast, freely available collection, however. It includes other functions such as allowing visitors to view their 50 most-recent searches, eliminating that now-where-did-I-find that confusion, and one called View Verso that allows a visitor to see another side of certain items, including baseball cards or book jackets. Manafy says the library's rare manuscripts and art as well as architectural and cultural collections are now available for viewing by anyone online and encourages everyone to "get online to visit this gallery." 

(http://digitalgallery.nypl.org)       

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