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In a recent article, Cliff Lynch, the director of library automation at the University of California at Berkley, argues rather pointedly that the Internet, and its companion the Web, is not the worlds ultimate library for the information age.Rather, the Internet and Web have "...evolved into what might be thought of as a chaotic repository for the collective output of the worlds digital printing presses" (Lynch, 1997).Further, the acceptance of these tools, especially the Web, for sharing information are evident throughout society. Sink or swim: Internet search tools and techniques (v. Print advertisements for companies and products display URLs (Uniform Resource Locators -- the addresses used to access Web sites); commercials for Web-based products (e.g., Web TV) are running on network TV; radio announcers often include URLs in their information announcements. The system that started off with a few hundred pages has grown exponentially.Recent studies estimate that over 320 million pages of information are now apart of the World Wide Web (Lawrence & Giles, 1998).According to Lynch, we need to make decisions about what we want from the Web and help guide its evolution to meet these goals.Additionally, Lynch expresses the need to produce the tools we will use in order to make information retrieval on the Web more reliable and precise.
By honing our Web information retrieval processes, we enable more rapid and reliable retrieval of information from this often unwieldy information tool. When the Web first arrived on the information source scene, many adopted it as the ultimate way to share personal information with the world.Today, the Web is much more than a collection of personal pages published by a few computer nerds.Given the rapid development of the Web, it is difficult to predict where it might be headed.Instead, it may be more realistic to discuss where it is not going -- at least from experts' best guesses -- and to offer a few preliminary precautions about its use.