The Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) is an organization to advance the transformative promise of networked information technology for the advancement of scholarly communication and the enrichment of intellectual productivity.
Background and History
The Coalition was founded in 1990 by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), CAUSE and Educom. ARL represents the research libraries of North America. CAUSE and Educom were organizations concerned with the use of information technology in higher education. In 1998, CAUSE and Educom merged to create the new Educause organization, which has broad membership from the higher education community and their technology partners.In establishing CNI, these sponsor organizations recognized the need to broaden the community’s thinking beyond issues of network connectivity and bandwidth to encompass networked information content and applications. Reaping the benefits of the Internet for scholarship, research, and education demands new partnerships, new institutional roles, and new technologies and infrastructure. The Coalition seeks to further these collaborations, to explore these new roles, and to catalyze the development and deployment of the necessary technology base.
The Coalition is supported by a task force of about 200 dues-paying member institutions representing higher education, publishing, network and telecommunications, information technology, and libraries and library organizations. Membership in the Coalition’s Task Force is open to all organizations — both for-profit and not-for- profit — that share CNI’s commitment to furthering the development of networked information.
The Task Force will meet twice in 1998-1999:
The Coalition’s program is guided by a steering committee chaired by Richard West of the California State University system. As sponsor organizations, ARL and Educause each appoint three representatives to the steering committee drawn from their member leadership; the steering committee is supplemented by outside representatives providing additional perspectives.
| Paul Evan Peters was the founding Executive Director of the Coalition, and served until his untimely death in 1996. Joan Lippincott, now CNI’s Associate Director, served as Interim Executive Director until the appointment of Clifford Lynch as the new Executive Director in July, 1997. |
The work of the Coalition is structured around three central themes which we believe are the essential foundations of the vision of advancing scholarship and intellectual productivity:– Developing Networked Information Content. A network which will play an integral role in scholarly discourse and productivity must be rich with content and information resources. The Coalition seeks to mobilize and bring together the many diverse communities that create and manage content. It works with these communities to develop methods of creating, organizing, evaluating, managing and preserving networked information resources. The Coalition also furthers the development of economic, policy and legal frameworks that sustain the creation and management of networked information and facilitate its access.
– Transforming Organizations, Professions and Individuals. The use of networked information will transform institutions, professions, and the practices of learning and scholarship. Success in the new environment — in higher education or other organizations — will require an unprecedented degree of collaboration among libraries, information technology groups, faculty, instructional technologists, museums, publishers and other units. Organizations will need to develop and share new strategies, policies and best practices. Of equal importance is the need to assess and measure the impacts of the new environment on institutions and their activities as the transformation progresses. Professions will need to develop new competencies, and enter into new dialogs which cross traditional disciplinary boundaries. The Coalition seeks to facilitate these collaborations and dialogs, and to help professions and institutions to work together both in program strategy formulation and impact assessment.
– Building Technology, Standards and Infrastructure. The networked information environment relies extensively on the development and deployment of standards and infrastructure components in order to enable the discovery, use, and management of networked information. The ability to use collections of resources in a unified, consistent fashion is essential: this requires a continuing focus on interoperability of services. At the same time, promising new technologies are constantly appearing which need to be explored, assessed and tested, and sometimes adapted to the needs of the CNI community. No one institution acting alone can build the needed infrastructure, or explore the full range of new technologies as they become available. Accomplishing these goals requires a coordinated community- wide effort; CNI seeks to provide leadership in this undertaking, to offer a context for collaborative experiments and testbeds, and to serve as a focal point for sharing knowledge about new technologies.
The specific program initiatives which further these themes evolve from year to year. The initiatives and strategies planned for 1998-1999 are described below; most build upon and continue earlier efforts already underway. Many of the initiatives seek to make strategic progress relevant to more than one theme. It is important to recognize that the networked information environment is evolving very rapidly; CNI is continually adapting its activities in response to new developments and opportunities. Indeed, the Coalition believes agility is essential in the current environment and invites a continuous dialog with the members of the Task Force on the need for additional program initiatives.
In addition to initiatives to advance these overarching themes, the Coalition actively conducts an ongoing program of education and advocacy for the development of networked information and its role in transforming organizations and scholarly activities. This is accomplished through both print-based and network publications; through participation in various conferences, committees, meetings, workshops and committees on an institutional, regional, national and international basis; through contributions to standards efforts; and through participation in organizations such as the World Wide Web Consortium. The Coalition also contributes to the development of the networked information community by hosting electronic discussion groups and acting as a distribution point for materials.
Finally, the Coalition’s twice-annual Task Force meetings not only allow CNI to highlight activities related to its program themes and to focus attention on significant new thinking and technology developments, but also provide a major opportunity for the membership to showcase and discuss a wide range of emerging issues and developments in networked information. For member organizations, these meetings offer a unique opportunity to remain informed about new developments that may reshape institutional plans, and a forum in which to establish collaborations and dialogs with others sharing common interests.
NATIONAL HUMANITIES ALLIANCE
STEERING COMMITTEE FOR COMPUTER SCIENCE AND THE HUMANITIES
1998-1999 Program Activities
Developing Networked Information Content
Content from the arts, the humanities, and the cultural heritage community represents an important scholarly resource for the networked environment; indeed, making much of this information available in digital form should greatly increase its accessibility and usefulness. CNI is pursuing this goal through its ongoing support of the National Initiative for a Networked Cultural Heritage (NINCH), a broad coalition of arts, humanities and social science groups. CNI, the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) and the Getty Information Institute founded NINCH in 1996. CNI also supports the National Humanities Alliance, which was created in 1981 to advance the cause of the humanities in national programs, policies and legislation. The Alliance brings together scholarly and professional associations, museums, libraries, historical societies, state humanities councils and universities and independent centers for scholarship. CNI is participating with NINCH, the National Research Council, and ACLS in a Steering Committee for Computer Science and the Humanities which seeks to promote the application of the information sciences to the understanding of the human record; currently, the work of this committee is focusing on knowledge representation and humanities informatics.
CONSORTIUM FOR THE COMPUTER INTERCHANGE OF MUSEUM INFORMATION (CIMI)
|On a more technical level, CNI is a member of the Consortium for the Computer Interchange of Museum Information (CIMI), which consists of organizations working together to solve standards and interoperability issues related to the electronic interchange of museum information. CIMI is playing a key role in developing the technical approaches necessary to interchange and provide access to cultural heritage information.|
LICENSING MUSEUM INFORMATION
|As a part of the effort to ensure that cultural heritage is available to the research ,education and library communities, CNI is serving as a forum for discussion of the emerging consortia to create, organize, and license museum information in digital form and the pilot projects under development to validate the technical approaches and business models of these consortia.|
NETWORKED DIGITAL LIBRARY OF THESES AND DISSERTATIONS (NDLTD)
|Theses and dissertations are a key part of the content created by the higher education community; also, because the process of their creation is so integral to the process of higher education, they offer a unique opportunity to train new scholars in the creation of digital documents, and for institutions to formalize their management. Further, these materials represent a significant body of important information that has not historically been readily accessible. CNI is a member of the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD) program, and serves on the steering committee of this enterprise. The initiative seeks to improve graduate education by allowing students to produce electronic theses and dissertations, and to understand issues in publishing while increasing the availability of student research for scholars, and preserving these electronic materials.|
DUBLIN CORE DESCRIPTIVE METADATA INITIATIVE
CNI NIDR WHITE PAPER
|Metadata to describe networked information resources is now recognized as a key component in organizing content to facilitate its discovery and use. CNI has been a partner in the Dublin Core Descriptive Metadata initiative on a continuing basis and will be a sponsor of the 6th Dublin Core meeting in Washington, DC in November 1998. The Coalition also expects to release its White Paper on Networked Information Discovery and Retrieval early in the 1998-1999 program year. A key goal for 1998-1999 is to move work on metadata beyond descriptive information to support resource discovery; this will include work in metadata and supporting infrastructure to address the authenticity, provenance and integrity of digital information, and to document the digitization or capture processes for electronic information.|
INTERNET SCOUT PROJECT
|There is a continuing need for alternative resource discovery tools to serve the particular needs of the research and education community in offering human-mediated, highly authoritative collections of Internet resources. CNI is a co-sponsor of work being conducted by the NSF-funded Internet Scout Project to link geographically distributed metadata collections into a coherent virtual collection; leveraging existing efforts to create metadata, this seeks both to provide such a discovery tool and to also create a testbed for continuing research on networked information discovery and retrieval.|
|Preservation and long-term management of digital information is emerging as a central issue in the shift to network-based scholarly publishing. CNI is working with ARL and other partner organizations in developing economic, business and organizational models for preservation; in exploring technologies to manage the archiving of digital content, and in identifying priorities for preservation action. The Coalition will host a workshop on organizational and economic issues in the spring of 1999.|
|CNI continues to work with other organizations, including ARL, ACLS, and the American Association of University Publishers to understand the changing landscape of scholarly communication. Following last year’s successful conference on the future of the Scholarly Monograph, planning is proceeding for a March 1999 conference focused on changing roles and expectations of the academic community in the scholarly communications process.|
WORKING TOGETHER WORKSHOPS
Transforming Organizations, Professions and Individuals
Afundamental goal of CNI is to foster dialog and collaboration among information professionals from all disciplinary backgrounds. In 1998-1999 the Coalition will continue to offer its Working Together program, which provides a structured workshop experience to help groups of professionals improve their ability to collaborate and build partnerships with colleagues, particularly on projects related to networked information resources and services. These workshops can be offered as preconference programs, or as on-campus retreats or consortium programs. In addition, we will be delivering a specialized Working Together workshop for archivists, records managers, and information technologists in December 1998 under a grant from the National Historical Preservation and Records Commission.
ASSESSING THE NETWORKED ENVIRONMENT
|Measuring the impacts and value of networking and networked information has emerged as a major issue. In 1997-1998 the Coalition conducted a coordinated field test of the assessment measures outlined in McClure and Lopata’s Assessing the Academic Networked Environment: Strategies and Options. The field test was intended to facilitate institutional collaboration on assessment issues, to develop a compendium of assessment measures, and to widely inform the community on approaches and best practices in assessing networked resources and services. In 1998-1999 we will complete this effort by reporting results to the broader community.|
|The move to networked information and electronic communication is giving rise to a number of new organizational policy issues. In 1998-1999 CNI will seek to collect and facilitate discussion and formulation of best practices in several of these areas. Our work in authentication and access management has highlighted the importance of reader privacy policies and also policies for the gathering of statistical usage data to support collection management and development, and we will focus on these areas. In addition, we will begin a discussion of the policy issues such as business continuity planning, records management and institutional accountability that are raised by the growing use of encrypted communications within organizations.|
|Distance education and instructional technologies are emerging as important new programs for many institutions of higher education; they are a central part of the Internet 2 initiative, which should enable greatly accelerated progress. New institutional strategies, new collaborations, and new kinds of networked information resources and services will be needed if libraries are to be effective partners with faculty and instructional technologists in the implementation of these programs. Building on earlier collaborations with the Educause National Learning Infrastructure Initiative (NLII), CNI will work with both ARL and Educause to explore institutional readiness factors and organizational roles to support distance education and digital instructional media.|
Building Technology, Standards and Infrastructure
CNIcontinues to be actively engaged in key areas of standards and infrastructure development. The Coalition is particularly concerned with facilitating the difficult and delicate transition of standards and technologies into operational infrastructure within the CNI community.
AUTHENTICATION AND AUTHORIZATION
|Authentication and authorization have emerged as essential infrastructure requirements for network-based access to information, and have become a particularly critical need as institutions enter into site-license arrangements with publishers and other information providers or form consortia for resource sharing. The Coalition is pursuing a program to define technology approaches, standards, best practices, and policy and business issues for such an inter-organizational authentication and authorization infrastructure, and to help early adopter Task Force member organizations share implementation experiences and explore interoperability issues. Building on work done in 1997-1998 through the development of the white paper on authentication and access management (scheduled for release in final form in October 1998) we will be issuing a call for participation in public- key based testbeds for access management, as well as trying to illuminate many of the planning, operational and budgetary issues involved in implementing public key infrastructure.|
IDENTIFIERS FOR DIGITAL INFORMATION
|Identifiers for digital information — such as the Internet Engineering Task Force’s Uniform Resource Names, the publishing community’s proposed Digital Object Identifier, various bibliographic identifier standards, and the emerging discussion of “human friendly identifiers” — are an essential part of the infrastructure that will allow access, linkage and reference in the networked information environment. CNI will continue to be actively engaged in both standards work and inter-community dialog to help further the development and deployment of such identifiers and to inform the community about the capabilities and appropriate uses of the various identifier systems.|
|CNI has been active in the development of a new attribute set architecture for the Z39.50 information retrieval protocol. We will be continuing this work through the Z39.50 Implementor’s group with the goal of defining and deploying new attribute sets that conform to that architecture.|
INSTRUCTIONAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM & LIBRARIES
|Working with the Educause NLII project, we will convene a working group to explore the definition and design of interfaces between the Instructional Management System and library systems.|
|Internet 2 is emerging as a key testbed for many of the next-generation networked information applications; it will offer not only much higher bandwidth between Internet 2- connected sites than can be reliably obtained through today’s Internet, but several fundamentally new network services. Quality of service management allows users to obtain guaranteed bandwidth and delivery and is particularly important in the support of multimedia applications. Multicasting, an efficient way of supporting multi-point distribution and interchange of network traffic, offers new ways to think about information distribution. CNI will continue to seek to highlight novel Internet 2 applications to the CNI membership, and to promote the development of networked information applications for Internet 2 by serving as a bridge between the library and networking communities. In addition, CNI will be focusing on three specific areas related to Internet 2 during 1998-1999: the management and policy issues involved in implementing quality of service technology; the infrastructure to support large scale multicasting for information distribution; and the role of storage and delivery of digital video content, with particular emphasis on the roles of research libraries in managing digital video materials.|
|Finally, CNI is working with both Educause and the University Consortium for Advanced Internet Development on strategies for extending the knowledge and experience gained with advanced Internet 2 applications to the broader higher education community. A National Science Foundation sponsored strategy development workshop on this topic will be held in January 1999.|