Primi elementi di "webografia"

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Elena Boretti


Many still think that Internet is a game, or a place of experimentation for technologically advanced applications. In the terminology commonly used, "information system" still means mainly computer system and an equilibrium has still to be found between skills which rightly belong to the sphere of information technology and those which belong to information management. The spread of the World Wide Web in the past few years, however, has led to the widespread diffusion of the new electronic medium, thanks to its ease of use and low costs. Libraries too started to talk of access as opposed to ownership of documents. Academic papers began to cite sources found on the Web, even though no standard citation rules exist, thus engendering a necessary reflection on the assessment of this type of information resources. Librarians are now seeking to apply paper document assessment techniques to Web sources. How otherwise can we assess whether the availability of a resource can be important for our users? Scientists need to use sources which are certain, authoritative and verifiable. The long-term storage of electronic documents is however a still unsolved problem and moreover, before dealing with preservation, we should learn to select reliable information. Many think that libraries should authenticate and validate electronic documents, through a compulsory legal deposit. The documents published on the Internet are not approved in advance by anyone, and the figure of the publisher as an expert who assesses the quality of the contributions has disappeared, giving rise to a vacuum as regards the guarantee of trustworthiness of the electronic document. The organisation which offers space on its site thus becomes important, but even more so does the authoritativeness of the author, in terms of his qualifications and experience in respect of the issues dealt with. Moreover, Web documents are seldom reviewed. Another fundamental element is bibliographical references, which continue to be supplied without a citation standard and hence are often quite poor in basic elements, including dates. Vis-à-vis the paper document, these are much more complex and important for a Web document as they should indicate not only the first publication, but at least the last update, and eventually the latest check of the links cited. Finally, a consultation date is required as evidence of the availability of the document on the network.

Evaluation studies are in line with the guidelines already indicated by the same type of studies for paper documents. As regards the content, although attention is often called to the need for originality on the part of the Web resources, there are no suggestions as to where exactly this should manifest itself. As regards the formal aspects, the analysis is in part very cursory, in part dominated by assessments concerning the technological aspects rather than those regarding the communication of original information. It is therefore clear that the criteria which held for the assessment of paper sources cannot be merely transposed to electronic resources. One of the aspects quite surprisingly ignored concerns the interactivity of the Web; a most innovative value, which could allow one to transform the supply of information into the supply of services, into a channel of bi-directional communication, would appear to be wholly forgotten. These are the experimentations which cannot be developed by computer experts but should be attempted by those competent in information sciences.

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