Skill Sets Benefitting the Age of Internet Protocol

Net Log John Makulowich

Skill Sets Benefitting the Age of Internet Protocol

Maintaining the World Wide Web Virtual Library for Journalism on the Internet (www.cais.com/makulow/vlj.html), as I do, generates a host of traffic from researchers, teachers, students and the general public. It also fills my e-mail accounts with about 15 to 20 messages a day, mainly from people seeking information.

While it provides gratifying recognition that I provide a valuable service, the e-mail also offers a darker side about the skill set of those using the pages as well as those seeking to enter the world of journalism. It also reveals to me the urgent need to revise the concept of communication as used in the business, government and academic communities.

On the skill set issue, the dominant impression is that very few who write me know how to craft a well-formed Internet search for information, not to speak of their ability to evaluate what they find. For the most part, I attribute their inability to laziness, since all the major search engines have more than ample details on how to navigate their sites and use such logical operators as the standard Boolean set of "and," "not" and "or."

The other side of the coin is the need to re-evaluate what counts as communication inside the business, government and academic communities. With the accepted use of Internet protocol and its application in e-mail and on intranets, extranets and the Internet, the communications skill set must include the ability to create pages in HTML as well as to understand the nuances of metadata, or data about data. In fact, Ralph Kimball, one of the founders of data warehousing, defines metadata in his new book, "The Data Warehouse Lifecycle Tool Kit," as "all of the information in the data warehouse environment that is not the actual data itself."

This understanding comes into play in the present ? for example, in creating the Web page itself and cleverly using the meta tag ? as well as in the future, for instance, in creating and working with data marts and data warehousing in general.

More and more information and data will be classified as public rather than private, accessible by team members in an organization for use in corporate projects rather than only on one's stand-alone desktop.

In this vein, I would predict forward-looking news organizations will create a category of outtakes, comparable to the film industry, using the information that does not find its way into news, articles and features to populate data marts and data warehouses for commercial use by selected customers.

Thus, the reporter must know how to create a metadata file that clearly identifies the data's subject, origin, sources and keywords that would allow a skilled researcher or reference librarian to retrieve the information in the shortest time.

In fact, my model would be the skill set of the reference librarian, who should find a new role in organizations training staff how to professionally research, gather, distribute, categorize and update data and information in the age of Internet protocol.

You can send John e-mail at john@journalist.com; his Web address is www.cais.com/makulow/.


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