Another semester shaping up

As we head into the second week of the semester, here is how things are looking:

LIS590OH: Ontologies in the Humanities with Allen Renear

First class consisted of introductions, discussing the proto-syllabus [first time offering], and where we might want to take the class. There are about 10 students almost evenly split between “old-timers,” like me, and some of the more interesting seeming newer students. I am very glad to see some 2nd semester Masters students in here and I look forward to learning from them, and from my “old-timey” friends, too, of course.

Coursework looks fairly easy but then, as this is an “intermediate research seminar” in Allen’s ontology of course types, the true work is in individual and group learning. We will also learn a bit about the ontology editor, Protégé, and have the opportunity to substitute a practical ontology project for one of our papers.

I’ve managed to get all of the discussion readings and background readings read for this week. While I may not always get the background readings done, especially when I have read them before as in this week, I was happy to revisit some of them. Actually, in truth, I skipped one discussion reading. Gasp! As good as it may be, how often can one re-read Barbara Tillett’s pamphlet, “What is FRBR?: A Conceptual Model for the Bibliographic Universe”? [pdf]

I did enjoy revisiting the 1st 3 chapters of the FRBR Final Report [pdf], Buckland’s “What is a Document?”, the 1st 2 chapters of Smiraglia’s The Nature of “a Work”, and Denton’s FRBR and Fundamental Cataloguing Rules. There were also 2 Renear co-authored papers, one on axiomatizing FRBR and one on refining the OHCO model of text.

The next couple of weeks will allow me to revisit chapter 3 of Svenonius’ The Intellectual Foundation of Information Organization [set-theoretic view of bibliographic entities] and some classic articles by Frege and Popper.

I’m not sure where my interests will take me in this class, but I am excited nonetheless.

LIS590RO: Representation and Organization of Information Resources with Kathryn LaBarre

This will actually be week 1 as we did not have class last week with Kathryn at ALISE. This seminar also has about 10 students, although most are either “mid-career” or newer students. But again, it looks like a brilliant group and I look forward to much interesting learning as we all explore our own varied interests within the structure of the class. About half of us are together in Allen’s class above, too, which may provide its own interesting angles and benefits.

Our “textbook” is Morville’s Ambient Findability, which in my experience wasn’t all that findable. The other, optional, text is Svenonius. Thankfully! [see above for Svenonius link.]

I read Morville over break and while it eventually got (a bit) better than I expected, it is still tripe. I have refrained from slagging it here so far since I will have the privilege of critiquing it in class. If, like me, you prefer to buy books, do yourself a favor and get this one at the library or at least used. Of course, if like me, you have an overpowering urge to write “BS!” in the margin of the first few pages then maybe you should buy a used copy. This has got to be the 1st book that I have ever written a negative comment in the preface! Seriously, who writes something that can be argued with in the preface?

Despite Morville, I am really looking forward to this class. And I do know what my focus will be. Relationships. Hopefully I will be able to mostly focus on thesaural relationships, but I intend to dive head first down this particular rabbit hole.

One of our assignments is a book review and a presentation of it in class. The book I am “reviewing” or, in my case, living with, is Bean and Green’s Relationships in the Organization of Knowledge. I found this book while working on my thesaurus paper a few weeks ago. I was unable to use it at the time and am glad that I get to now. I ordered myself a copy through abebooks on Friday evening.

Side note: I understand supply and demand (somewhat), and I understand that most of these sorts of books go to libraries, but seriously folks, why does a remaindered copy of such a book go for almost $90? I know I would buy a lot more of these seriously nerdy books if they were affordable! Richard and I were discussing this after 590ON last week regarding Smiraglia [see above]. The cheapest copy is over $100 used. Seriously, WTF?

Back to 590RO. I’m not sure what form my final project will take, but it will almost certainly involve relationships.

LIS592: Independent Study with Kathryn LaBarre

With Kathryn away until Wednesday, I am still in the process of getting this set up, although we have been narrowing it down via email. Here is the current draft of my proposal:

This independent study will allow me to further my research into thesauri. To this point, I have taken Thesaurus Construction (590TC), and have written a selective literature review on the mapping of thesauri as an aid to assist interdisciplinary scientists for Information Transfer & Collaboration in Science (590TR). I also have a graduate assistantship at the Illinois Fire Service Institute Library where I am responsible for maintaining the FireTalk thesaurus. My previous coursework has really piqued my interests in thesauri–construction, maintenance, evaluation, use, and current and future trends. My work experience has only reinforced how vastly difficult it is to implement theory.

My coursework for this independent study will involve reading (or re-reading) the ANSI/NISO Z39.19-2005 monolingual thesaurus, the ISO monolingual and multilingual thesaurus standards, Lancaster (1983), Aitchison, et. al. (2000), among other readings. It will also involve an in-depth look into both OCLC‘s and JISC‘s Terminology Services programs and research. I intend to visit OCLC Research over Spring Break for a first-hand look at their Terminology Services research.

I am particularly interested in current trends and future directions for embedding thesauri into various, diverse services (Terminology Services) and the extension of relationships in thesauri (see e.g., Green (1995), Tudhope, et. al. (2001).

I will meet with my instructor every other week to keep her abreast of my progress and for discussion of issues as needed.

The final product will take two forms: (1) A literature review of current projects and research into Terminology Services; and (2) a presentation on the reality and potential of Terminology Services. The presentation would be open to the school and any other interested parties.

Besides the extracurricular learning in linguistics and grammar that I need to do to provide myself a ladder back out of the rabbit hole of relationships, I think that is it. :) For now.

Best of luck and learning this semester to all the LIS students out there. May you find what you’re looking for. And don’t forget to dive head first down a rabbit hole once in a while.

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  1. Pingback: Intellectual crushes and more mature relationships | Off the Mark

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