InfoShare winners announced!

InfoShare, a program sponsored by SIG-III, awards one-year ASIS&T memberships to information professionals in developing countries for whom the cost of membership would be a financial burden. InfoShare increases awareness of the importance of international cooperation, facilitates and enhances communication and interaction among ASIS&T members and colleagues worldwide, and provides a forum for exploration and discussion of international information issues. Recipients must reside in a country where there is no ASIS&T chapter, and may be practitioners, researchers, or students enrolled in an information science program. This year SIG-III is please to offer InfoShare awards to nine information professionals, two of whom are students. InfoShare Memberships: * Mumtaz Memon (Pakistan) * Maqsood Shaheen (Pakistan) * Hanane Boujemi Morocco) * Yuanxin Zhong (China) * Tara Mani Dahal (Nepal) * Abdul Waheed (Pakistan) * Tibebe Beshah (Ethiopia) Student InfoShare Memberships: * Sandra Miguel (Argentina) * Mae’n Al Assaf (Jordan) Please join SIG-III in congratulating our 2009 InfoShare winners! You are also welcome to check out the InfoShare section of our website — just click “InfoShare” in the left-side navigation menu.

2008-2009 SIG-III Officers

Just a quick note to announce the 2008-2009 Officers:

Chair: Aaron Bowen

Co-chair: Jonathan Levitt

Chair-elect: Kate Johnson

Co-chair elect: Daniel Alemneh

Immediate Past Chair: Yunfei Du

Communications Officer: Masqood Shaheen

Treasurer: Bahaa El-Hadidy

Program Chair: Ajit Pyati

SIG-III Blog Administrator: Aaron Bowen

Cabinet Representative: Toni Carbo

Alternate Cabinet representative: Yunfei Du

Webmaster: Aaron Bowen

Mentorship Coordinator: Nadia Caidi

International Paper Contest Chair: Hong Cui

International Paper Contest Co-chair: Jonathan Levitt

InfoShare Officers: Abebe Rorissa, Sarah Emmerson

Thanks to everyone for your service this year! Let’s make it a great one!

Aaron Bowen

The Globalization of Search



Yahoo China

Images by rustybrickBob Xu, and Colin Zhu,
used under the Creative Commons license.

This past September 16, Financial Times posted an article about the contest between search engines for dominance of Internet search traffic in different parts of the world. Whereas Google is dominant in North America, they have had trouble breaking into markets in other parts of the world. In China, for example, the majority of Internet search traffic goes to Yahoo holds an advantage over Google in other parts of Asia, and (according to FT) Naver receives 60% of South Korea’s search traffic.

The article discusses how and why different search engines are able to establish dominance in different regions:

Some common themes lie behind these local success stories, internet veterans say: Google has played second fiddle to rivals who invested much earlier, perfected their technology to work with local languages and came up with innovations that Google is now having to copy.

These companies have since been able to consolidate their hold thanks to their well-known local brand names and a strategy that often relies on combining search with a range of other portal-like services to keep users on in-house sites.

Article by Richard Waters, Robin Kwong, and Robin Harding in Financial Times. SIG-III Blog post by Aaron Bowen

SIG-III sponsored events at the ASIS&T Annual Meeting

ASIS&T logo

The following is a list of events that SIG-III has sponsored or co-sponsored for the ASIS&T Annual Meeting in Columbus, OH, October 24-29, 2008.

Monday, October 27, 3:30 PM:
25 Years of SIG-III and the Future of International Information (III)
Panelists: Toni Carbo, Bharat Mehra, Yunfei Du and Aaron Bowen

Tuesday, October 28, 8:30 AM:
ICT-Mediated Diaspora Studies: New Directions in Immigrant Information Behavior Research
Panelists: Ajit Pyati, Clara Chu, Karen Fisher, Ramesh Srinivasan, Nadia Caidi, Danielle Allard and Diane Dechief

Tuesday, October 28, 10:30 AM:
Understanding Visual Search Tools through Users’ Reactions
Panelists: Efthimis Efthimiadis, Allison Druin and Andrew Large

Wednesday, October 29, 8:30 AM:
Global Perspective on Wikipedia Research
Panelists: Pnina Shachaf, Noriko Hara, Susan Herring, Ewa Callahan, Paul Solomon, Besiki Stvilia and Sorin Matei

Plus there is the International Reception, 8:00-9:30pm on Monday, Oct. 27. The reception is ASIS&T’s “special thank you recognizing those from other countries who help make the meeting a success.” At the reception, conference attendees will be able to meet the winner of the International Paper Competition and past winners who are at the conference, as well as participate in a silent auction to benefit SIG-III’s InfoShare program, a program to sponsor international members from developing countries to come to the Meeting. Further information on both the Paper Competition and the InfoShare program may be found on SIG-III’s website.

Contributed by the SIG-III blog administrator

2008 ASIS&T SIG-III International Paper Contest winners

The American Society for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T) Special Interest Group on International Information Issues (SIG III) is pleased to announce the following winners of its 9th International Paper Contest:

First Place Winner:
Maqsood Ahmad Shaheen. Use of social networks and information seeking behavior of students during political crises in Pakistan. (Pakistan)

Second Place Winner:
Neela J. Deshpande & S K Pathak. Use of electronic journals in astronomy and astrophysics libraries and information centres in India: A users’ perspective. (India)

Third Place Winner:
Manjunatha K. Technology and customer expectation in academic libraries: A special reference to technical/management libraries in Karnataka. (India)

Fourth Place Winner:
S. M. Pujar, R. K. Kamat, S. Y. Bansode, R. R. Kamat, & S. H. Katigennavar. Identifying and exploiting human needs for people centric evolving knowledge society: A case study of Indian ICT emergence. (India)

Fifth Place Winner:
Tariq Ashraf. Empowering people through information: A case study of India’s right to information act. (India)

Sixth Place Winner:
Pramila Dangwal. Information: By the people, for the people, for development. (India)

The principal authors of each of the six winning papers will be awarded a two-year individual membership to ASIS&T. In addition, the first place winner will be awarded a minimum of $1,000 to attend the ASIS&T Annual Meeting in Columbus, Ohio, October 24-29, 2008. Congratulations to all winners!Contributed by the SIG-III Blog Admininistrator

The Libraries of Timbuktu

A manuscript from Timbuktu

Image by ازرق, used under the Creative Commons license.

Not many outside central Africa are familiar with them, but the libraries of Timbuktu are an extensive wealth of knowledge and culture. From today’s Der Spiegel:

Fabled Timbuktu, once the site of the world’s southernmost Islamic university, harbors thousands upon thousands of long-forgotten manuscripts. A dozen academic instutions from around the world are now working frantically to save and evaluate the crumbling documents…

Albrecht Hofheinz, an Arabist from Oslo, estimates that there are up to 300,000 forgotten manuscripts in Mali. Insect bites have discolored the pages, he says. “The paper disintegrates, is destroyed by mold or eaten by termites.” Time is of the essence. Some of the volumes are being photographed using a digital photo studio provided by the University of Chicago. The first of the documents are expected to be available on the Internet by the end of the year.

This will be an excellent resource for scholars of Islam and of central Africa! I look forward to watching this work unfold and progress, especially since it is the result of years of effort.

Contributed by Aaron Bowen

Best practices for digital education: A case study of ICT in India

Smart classroom

Image by Idiolector, used under the Creative Commons license.

Last month Leigh Linden published Complement or Substitute?, a useful study that goes beyond the question of whether information and communication technologies (ICT) can make a positive difference in education and asks instead how they may be best implemented to make such a positive difference. Writing about Linden’s research on the World Bank’s PSD Blog, Ryan Hahn offers the following summary:

Employing a pair of randomized evaluations of computer use in classrooms in Gujarat, India, Linden found that computers improve learning outcomes when they are used as a complement to the normal curriculum, rather than as a replacement for the standard offering. He also found that the weakest students benefitted most, as the computers allowed for further practice of material already covered in the classroom. Finally, Linden also found that the computers were about as cost-effective an intervention as girls scholarship programs, cash incentives for teachers, and textbooks.

Classroom in India

Image by World Bank Photo Collection,
used under the Creative Commons license.

What would be interesting to see now is the extent to which cultural attitudes towards education in Gujarat inform the effective use of these ICT in the classroom. Would the results be different in another city or another country that possesses different attitudes towards education? How so? I would love to see this research project repeated in one or more locations in different parts of the world. I would love to see how the results change or don’t change in different global settings. If you know of any similar experiments, please point to them in the comments — I would love to hear about them and have a dialog about the strengths of different digital education programs in different parts of the world.

Contributed by Aaron Bowen

A very cool use of Second Life

Image by kedguest, used under the Creative Commons license.

Today I ran across these two articles, one by Tom Peter in the Christian Science Monitor, and the other by Holly Jackson at CNet news. These articles note the use of Second Life as a venue for intercultural exchange, particularly at the virtual campuses different universities have set up in Second Life. (See for example the image of San Jose State’s virtual campus in the screenshot above). Peter says that

Around the world, universities, and even the US Department of State, are turning to online virtual worlds to create cultural exchanges. In these immersive, 3-D environments, users from around the globe can collaborate in ways that were previously impossible.

He also notes a group of university students in the United Arab Emerates who used Second Life to visit a virtual rendition of Darfur, make a pilgrimage to (virtual) Mecca, and interact with a group of Korean students to promote a cross-cultural exchange.

I find this a very worthwhile and exciting use of Second Life (or a second life clone such as IMVUGaia, or There). I believe such interaction will offer positive benefits as the world continues to grow interconnected and international projects such as Mainland Brasil(the Brazilian version of Second Life) continue to expand.

Contributed by Aaron Bowen

The future of multi-lingual domain names

spaghetti junction

Image by twenty_questions,
used under the Creative Commons license.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANNvoted today to allow greater flexibility in how people and organizations choose domain names. In other words, websites will no longer be limited to the standard fare of commercial (.com), organizational (.org, or national (.fr for france, .jp for Japan) domain names. The new system of allowing greater flexibility of how on names one’s website promises the introduction of personal names (.bowen for me), niche-specific names similar to the host of smaller domain names like .museum currently in existence, and of course product and brand names.

In addition to this greater general flexibility, ICANN affirmed a commitment to introduce Web addresses in non-Roman alphabets such as Cyrillic, Arabic, and Chinese, a move that has long been sought by different peoples around the world despite some fears that such action would lead to the “Balkinization” of the Internet. ICANN has been experimenting with these non-Roman addresses, and seems to see enough of a desire for such names to continue working on the technical challenges of implementing them.

The organization charged with the oversight of these domain names, ICANN maintains weak ties to the U.S. treasury Department — a fact that has long been a source of concern outside the United States regarding how the Internet is governed. ICANN last renewed ties with the Treasury Department in 2006, although the Treasury Department enjoyed far less control over the organization than in previous years. A source of much debate, the idea is to eventually make ICANN an independent organization free of ties to the U.S. Government. Currently the plan calls for independent governance in 2011.

Contributed by Aaron Bowen