I just paid an awful lot of money for a suit. Well, and a tie, too, but mostly for a suit.
Heck, I still need a pair of dress shoes.
Being a big boy sucks.
I just paid an awful lot of money for a suit. Well, and a tie, too, but mostly for a suit.
Heck, I still need a pair of dress shoes.
Being a big boy sucks.
Saturday evening, 18 Aug
Nhat Hanh, Thich. Peace is every step : the path of mindfulness in everyday life. New York N.Y.: Bantam Books, 1991.
Finally got back to some of this.
Sunday, 19 Aug
Three NISO standards are up for reaffirmation so I read these this morning to provide my input:
ANSI/NISO Z39.77-2001 Guidelines for Information About Preservation Products
Abstract: Specifies the information that should be included in advertisements, catalogs, and promotional material for products used for the storage, binding, or repair of library materials, including books, pamphlets, sound recordings, videotapes, films, compact disks, manuscripts, maps, and photographs.
ANSI/NISO Z39.79-2001 Environmental Conditions for Exhibiting Library and Archival Materials
Abstract: Establishes criteria to minimize the effects of environmental factors on the deterioration of library and archival materials on exhibit. Specific parameters are recommended for exposure to light, relative humidity, temperature, gaseous and particulate contaminants, display techniques, and case and support materials composition.
ANSI/NISO Z39.82-2001 Title Pages for Conference Publications
Abstract: Explains how to structure title page information for conference publications so metadata and bibliographic citations can readily access the publications. The standard applies to all disciplines, to all conferences (e.g., meetings, symposia, institutes, colloquia, workshops), and to all formats (e.g., printed documents, videos, Web sites). It applies to published conference proceedings in various manifestations (e.g., papers, abstracts, summaries) and in all languages, subjects, and formats.
Z39-77 and Z39.82 are quite interesting in that we are attempting to tell others what to do. Now, yes, if they do what we ask then it should be mutually beneficial.
Libraries are more likely to buy a company’s products if they can easily identify that it meets their needs. There are a few more benefits I could guess at but they would all be highly related to the first. Seems to be a fairly direct benefit to those wanting to sell preservation products to libraries.
The benefits to publishers/distributors of conference proceedings provided by accurate cataloging of their products by libraries seems a fair bit less direct, though. Sure. There’s the random, odd freak like me who likes to buy his own copies of these things after discovering them in the library, but I truly have to wonder what carrot we have to offer publishers to follow these guidelines. And what is the compliance rate? And then there’s the citation formats, and they do some vastly different things even when a proceedings follows this standard to the letter.
Interesting stuff, nonetheless.
Litwin, Rory (mostly). Library Juice Concentrate. Duluth, Minn: Library Juice Press, 2006.
Read the introductory matter and “Section One: Foundation Building,” which includes (all by Litwin except as noted):
- “The Library Juice Manifesto.”
- “Neutrality, Objectivity, and the Political Center.”
- “Classic and Neo-Information.”
- “Why Our Relevance Lies in Not Being Information Professionals.”
- “Questioning the Techie Mission.”
- “Print Virtue and the Ontology of Bo-ring.”
- Rosenzweig, Mark. “Aspects of a Humanist Approach to Librarianship… A Contribution to a Philosophical Foundation.”
I believe that I read them all in their original manifestations (not sure about the Rosenzweig), but there is value in re-reading them. Which is to say, that there is value in them.
If I had time I would love to engage with Rory at a deeper level, particularly on “Classic and Neo-Information” and “Why Our Relevance Lies in Not Being Information Professionals,” but I doubt either of us have time for that. I do look forward to meeting and talking with this clearly deeply thinking librarian someday.
If you have not read this material before then you ought to have a look. In the case that you do not prefer to read lengthy arguments, do not worry, as all of the above fits into less than 38 pages.
I do not expect you to agree entirely; if at all. I do not agree entirely. But I guarantee that it will make you think.
In the spirit of the old Library Juice serial, I leave you with one of Rory’s “Selected Quotes of the Week”:
The more we try to get a grip on information, the more it slips through our fingers like a ghost. Information, in fact, is the ghost of meaning, and our society’s worship of the ghost signals a continuing loss of meaning. – Stephen Talbot (quoted in Library Juice Concentrate, p. 197)
Tuesday, 21 Aug
Crawford, Walt. Cites & Insights 7 (10), September 2007
Wednesday, 22 Aug
Litwin, Rory. Library Juice Concentrate. See above.
Began Section Two: Librarianship: Professional Issues. Read:
- Litwin, R., Luis Acosta, Mark Hudson, and Margaret Myers. “Critical Discussion of the Better Salaries Initiative of Mitch Freedman’s ALA Presidency.”
- Litwin, R. “Undone by Flattery.”
There are some interesting points made by all in the Better Salaries discussion, but I have to wonder about something Luis Acosta wrote. At least at the time (mid-2003), Alcosta seemed to firmly believe in the looming, or even then extant, shortage of librarians and crisis in recruitment. He also made a direct connection between better pay and having an adequate number of MLS students. Perhaps perceived low pay is an issue in recruitment to the profession.
My main issue is with his contention that by having a large crop of entry-level workers to go into better paid positions when the huge crop of pending retirements happens library administrators will be less willing to replace these retiring librarians with non-MLS positions or not at all.
Besides all the other factors that go into whether or not a position is filled and with whom, and the problem of replacing (mostly) upper-level positions with entry-level ones, I really am having a hard time understanding just how having to pay more is going to positively effect whether management hires someone with an MLS. Seems the opposite is more likely.
Thursday, 23 Aug
Harris, Roy, and Christopher Hutton. Definition in theory and practice: Language, lexicography and the law. London: Continuum, 2007.
Read Preface & ch. 1 “On Stipulative Definition.”
Friday, 24 Aug
Harris and Hutton. See above.
Read ch. 2 “On Definition and Common Usage” and ch. 3 “On Real Definition.”
Litwin. See above.
Finished Section Two: Librarianship: Professional Issues. Read:
- Litwin, R. “On Google’s Monetization of Libraries.”
- Litwin, R. “The Central Problem of Library 2.0: Privacy.”
- “Rory Litwin interviews Barbara Tillett.”
Read all of these in their original manifestations, also.
Saturday, 25 Aug
Zelle, John M. Python Programming: An Introduction to Computer Science. Wilsonville, OR: Franklin, Beedle, 2004.
Finished ch. 1 (began Thurs. eve) and read ch. 2.
Litwin. See above.
Read Section Three: Intellectual Freedom and Media Independence and began Section four: Librarians: Culture and Identity:
Litwin, R. “Four Popular Errors About Free Speech …An Attack on Complacency and Dissociation.”
Oliphant, Tami. “The Invisibility of the Alternative Media.”
D’Adamo, Chuck. “Some Alternative Press History.”
Horne, Doug. “Information-Seeking During Wartime: Reconsidering the Role of the Library in Increasing User Sell-Sufficiency.”
Litwin, R. “A Librarian’s Confession.”
Downey, Allen, Jeff Elkner and Chris Meyers. How to Think Like a Computer Scientist: Learning with Python. Green Tea Press. [Ha ha, I was drinking green tea when I read this.] Available here in assorted forms.
Raber, Douglas. The Problem of Information: An Introduction to Information Science. Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press, 2003.
Read the final chapter, “Semiotics for Information Science.”
What can I say about this book that I haven’t already over the last few weeks? I don’t really know. Perhaps a little recap will suffice.
This is, by far, the most poorly edited book I have read in an extremely long time! This is a shame.
I feel that this is an important book and yet I cannot recommend it. Perhaps in a discussion with a specific individual and for a specific purpose I might, but otherwise no.
I am glad I read it and I would like to own a copy for future referral, but I will wait until I can find a good used copy for cheap.
Style is certainly an individual thing, but I feel this could have been written much more clearly.
In its defense, it did provide me with a long list of references to many good sources.
According to the Preface, this “book was written with beginning LIS students in mind; it should be accompanied by the reading of contemporary journal articles from the literature of information science” (vii).
I wholeheartedly disagree! Please do not inflict this book on beginning LIS students. And while I do agree that it must be read along with accompanying articles I question the use of contemporary. If this means the last 40 years (at least), then OK. If that means more like 5-8 years then No. Many of the important articles to this discussion are not exactly what I’d call contemporary, although there certainly are some.
I want to apologize to everyone who has commented on my last two posts, and to several other people who I owe responses in various venues. I did not mean to start a wonderful conversation and then leave it, but I must for the moment.
While waiting on the bus to come home this afternoon I started feeling extremely poorly. I tried taking a nap when I got home but despite being immediately and immensely tired I pretty much failed at napping.
I have been hydrating myself and have now eaten dinner. Nothing is helping at the moment. I need to give myself a break it seems. So I am stepping away from these computers for the evening.
I am sorry! As the comments started pouring in this morning I was itching to get the day over (work and 1st class of the semester) so that I could address them.
I promise I will get to them as soon as I can.
For the record, I was aware of the potential hypocrisy of complaining about del.icio.us feeds in blogs compared to my weekly “Some things read” posts. In fact, probably hyper-aware as it kept me from writing that post for almost 2 weeks. I will attempt to address this issue when I return, but it goes back to my comments about the blog author’s purpose. There certainly will be others who will not see any difference between these actions. This is true.
As I wrote previously, I am taking Bibliography this semester.
Today (Wednesday) was the 1st day of classes, and since it was “actually” a Monday (don’t ask), and this is an on-campus class, the 1st day of Bibliography will meet next Wednesday, when Wednesday is truly Wednesday.
[Seriously! I'm not babbling; this makes perfect sense to those of us at UIUC. Or, at least we deal with it.]
I am taking it for full credit and, thus, 80% of my grade will be based on one of the following:
Personally, I lean to the 1st option. But I’d like some input as I may try and slightly co-opt the medium of expression.
When I wrote to Dr. Krummel for permission to take the course, I said my interests were in working on a bibliography of Dr. Richard Stivers’ writings or in compiling my working bibliography for my CAS project, which I hope to complete in the spring (the project, that is).
Seeing as I still have no real idea what I am doing for my project that presents a bit of a conundrum. I’d love to spend more time on Dr. Stivers’ stuff, but…. For one, I’m not so sure that is the best use of my time at the moment.
As most of you know, I read a lot of our literature and I do list it here with the occasional commentary. I, also, have recently migrated a fair amount out of EndNote into Zotero. [And I sure wish I hadn't lost the vast majority of what I had had in Zotero, but there's no use crying now. I do backup my Zotero database/export in a couple of ways now.]
Based on some conversation with my advisor, some of the previous bibliographies that I have done, some posts and comments that I’ve seen around the interwebs, etc. I think I’d like to try and do something with Zotero and my LIS readings. The question becomes, What?
Zotero has some big plans, some of which may be arriving this fall: Accessing your library from anywhere on the web, shared collections, and some other exciting things. But that is the future.
Note: I am not going to use the term webliography for a couple of reasons: I do not really care for it; my parsing of it means it’s about web resources only (or primarily); uh, oops, forgot the others. I will use the term bibliography to mean a collection of, and listing of those, resources in some meaningful order. In my case, the resources will primarily be items that would normally fall under the biblio- part of bibliography, that is, print books and articles, but will not be restricted to those.
What I’d like to hear from you all is some comments on the following [please feel free to consider the best of all possible worlds or/and keep our current state in mind]:
What purposes (if any) do bibliographies serve on the web? Is there one?
What form should web-based bibliographies take to support those purposes?
Should embedded COinS or some other OpenURL or similar technology be employed?
What would be the best way to present our literature in a web-based bibliography that might entice you to read some of it?
Would it work best for you divided by larger topic areas (Thesaurus construction, classification, cataloging, vocabularies, etc. [or something similar]), or by individual tags?
Feel to ask, and answer if you like, any other questions that you think may be important to the future of bibliographies on the web.
Theoretically, I ought to be able to output bibliographies by individual tags and I know I can by folder (topic areas). Some of the issues include inconsistent tagging, creating navigation for a large number of pages if I use tags, and multiple instances of many repeated items to be indexed by search engines, which will affect their rankings.
Also, which citation format do you prefer? [But only if you think you might use one of more of the bibliographies.] Zotero only outputs to a few right now, but more of those are coming, too.
I would really like to pursue this and see what can be done; unless I figure out my CAS project topic, but the chances of that happening quickly are slimmer than me. Besides creating some amount of bibliographies that I would be able to annotate in a better form that I generally do each week, I am figuring that I could write up the process of using Zotero to publish web-based bibliographies, what I learned in the process of pursuing this, create a stylesheet that would provide a good presentation of the bibliographies whether viewed on screen or printed, etc.
I will need to sell this to Dr. Krummel, I imagine. I would greatly appreciate any input that you can give me—either way—so that I can decide whether it is worth pursuing, and, if so, so that I may better sell the idea.
Thanks, in advance for all input.
Maybe I should take a different tack first. Instead I will try to combine them.
If anyone reading this blog uses any means to output the items they add to del.icio.us as blog posts I would be interested in hearing your reasons for doing so. Now, if you have a blog that serves this purpose primarily then feel free to answer, although I already have a sense of some answers why one would do this.
My question is more to people who send this info to their “regular” blogs. I don’t know if this practice is taking off, or if I am just reading more people lately who do it. I do know that several people that I have read for a while have begun doing this.
Let me also admit that I have on a very rare occasion marked one of these posts as “Keep New” in Bloglines.
I am not claiming that one shouldn’t make their del.icio.us postings public. But there are ways to do so and are, I believe, so by default. If you think that you are providing a service to others—and you may well be—then you could always find another way to remind people that they can use the tools available within del.icio.us to watch your every move.
Now honestly, this has been bugging me for a while. I certainly do not mean to pick on Karen, and I had been intending to write this post days ago, but … do I a link to the Weather Channel blog or an Onion article?
OK, I know I’m about to lose half my readers, but I really do not find the Onion even slightly entertaining. I know it’s something all the “cool kids” are supposed to read and be able to discuss, sort of the hipster equivalent of knowing what happened last night on whatever the current hot reality TV show is. I don’t know why or how but, clearly, their vision of humor is somehow skewed from mine. Psst. And I honestly do not think many folks really get it either, but one must keep up appearances.
Anyway, my point—if anyone is still reading—is that regardless of what you are adding there is a 99.999% chance I could care less.
“So what is the problem,” you ask? “You’re using an aggregator, just ignore my post.”
Well, ignore may well become the operative word. The issue is that, despite what some think, dealing with all of this stuff does take real physical and cognitive labor. The physical labor is not generally the kind that makes you sweat, but it is the kind that may very well lead to overuse injuries.
I am a cataloger. I work at the computer all day. And if any of you are the slightest bit familiar with our systems you know what a nightmare of usability that they are. And then there are the design choices committees of librarians make about how to set up the search options in an OPAC and the various entries to it that compound the problem for someone who needs to do anything besides a keyword search.
On the cognitive front, just like you, I have more than enough to slog through and I try to subscribe to information sources from people whom I truly want to read. This is not to say that I am guaranteed to want to read every word that you write. Certainly not. But if I have kept your feed around then a conscious decision has been made that I find what you post of value, at least generally.
Adding your del.icio.us stuff to your general blog is a guarantee that—for me—you have just significantly impacted that decision in a negative manner.
If you rarely add stuff to del.icio.us then I probably will barely notice. But if you add stuff almost as frequently as you post….
Maybe this is just me. I don’t know. And you probably shouldn’t care if I read your blog or not. But I ask that you give a few minutes consideration to what your blog serves as for you, and then consider whether adding your del.icio.us content to it serves that purpose. If it is congruent, fine.
But I’m wondering whether it truly is. And while I advocate doing what you want with your own blog, always, I also realize that generally part of the point is to have folks read it. So, be sure to consider whether this additional content also serves as a useful and appreciated bit of content for them.
In my case, the answer is almost 100% No.
Monday, 13 Aug
Wilson, Patrick. “Situational relevance.” Information Storage and Retrieval 9 (1973): 457-471.
Cited by Raber in The Problems of Information, ch. 9, en13, p. 186 for the whole article in support of:
While many people, for example, may share the same problem or at least the same kind of problem, it does not mean that the same information will be useful to each of them in exactly the same way. As a result, relevance must be regarded as individual and situational, depending on the user’s perceptions, concerns, preferences, current state of kowledge, and view of his or her situation (186).
I like a lot about this view of relevance, except for its reliance on question answering. Perhaps parts of this view can be used while expanding beyond the question answering, but probably not without throwing out the question answering logical basis. I am unsure whether the logical basis is supposed to be prior to, or whether it is, or could be, after-the-fact. I feel that it should be, primarily, after-the-fact, that is, the sort of post hoc conditionals that I was complaining about last week.
Froehlich, Thomas J. “Relevance Reconsidered—Towards an Agenda for the 21st Century: Introduction to Special Topic Issue on Relevance Research.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science 45, April 1994: 124-134.
This is the intro to a special issue on relevance research. This article and many of those comprising this issue are cited by Raber in ch. 9. This article in end notes 11, 14 and 22.
Sets a good stage for the articles in the special issue, and serves as a good summary itself. Worth a read by itself.
Priss, Uta. “Formal Concept Analysis in Information Science.” In Cronin, Blaise, ed. Annual Review of Information Science and Technology (ARIST) 40, 2006. Sorry, can’t give a full citation since I read a draft version and it’s 11:30 PM, but I verified it here.
I read this due to something my advisor pointed me at but I sure hope this isn’t what she meant. She’s on a very well deserved vacation so I’ll have to wait a few more days to find out. [As I suspected, it was not.]
I have no doubt that this technique can be useful but it just perpetuates many of the things that I am beginning to see as wrong with what we do in LIS. Just because something can be done easily in a computer is not a good reason to do it that way. And, honestly, the mathematicalization of language and concepts is just too much.
Formal concepts in FCA can be seen as a mathematical formalization of what has been called the “classical theory of concepts” in psychology/philosophy, which states that a concept is formally definable via its features (draft 11).
The advantage of formalizations, however, is that notions are defined with absolute precision within the formal realm and that they therefore may be implementable in software (draft 12).
Svenonius, Elaine. “Reference vs. Added Entries.” [link] Paper presented at Authority Control in the 21st Century: An Invitational Conference, Dublin, OH, March 31-April 1, 1996. [originally read 11 May 2007].
Directly suggested to me by Bryan
ClarkCampbell [Sorry, Bryan. Losing my mind.]. I just wish this paper didn’t end in the “middle.” Not sure how much is really missing, but it clearly ends abruptly.
Tuesday – Wednesday, 14 – 15 Aug
Raber, Douglas. The Problem of Information: An Introduction to Information Science. Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press, 2003.
Ch. 10. on “Information as a Social Phenomenon.”
Wednesday, 15 Aug
Jin, Qiang. “Eliminating redundant entries in bibliographic records.” Library Collections, Acquisitions, & Technical Services 29 (2005): 412-424.
Also suggested by Bryan Campbell along the same lines as Svenonius, that is, pulling apart the function of references vs. added entries.
Thursday, 16 Aug
Ellis, David. “The Physical and Cognitive Paradigms in Information Retrieval Research.” Journal of Documentation 48 (1), March 1992: 45-64.
Cited by Raber, ch. 9 en15, regarding the physical and cognitive paradigms not exhausting the ways in which to think about information as a theoretical object.
I guess I should add that I read a little of David Bade’s The Theory and Practice of Bibliographic Failure, Or, Misinformation in the Information Society each day. I guess you could label it my “bus ride” book, although I do read it on a few other occasions. One shouldn’t rush through a book on errors, though, it seems to me. T’would be an error; would it not?
Friday – Saturday, 17 – 18 Aug
Frohmann, Bernd. “The Power of Images: A Discourse Analysis of the Cognitive Viewpoint.” Journal of Documentation 48 (4), December 1992: 365-386.
OMG! If only Raber could write like this. At least he cited it 4 times in ch. 10.
Lots of connection to Dr. Richard Stivers’ work and the things I did with him. Will have to go back and re-read a few things of his.
This is an incredible analysis of the cognitive viewpoint in LIS.
Highly recommended, but you really ought to read up a bit on the cognitive viewpoint first. Frohmann does outline it, of course, but in a fairly cursory way. I would not have been as impressed with the analysis if I hadn’t already had a good idea of what was being critiqued.
Saturday, 18 Aug
Robertson, S. E. “Between Aboutness and Meaning.” The Analysis of meaning : informatics 5 : proceedings of a conference held by the Aslib Informatics Group and the BCS Information Retrieval Specialist Group, 26-28 March 1979, The Queen’s College, Oxford. Maxine MacCafferty and Kathleen Gray, eds. London : Aslib, 1979: 202-205.
Cited by Raber, ch. 7, “Representation of Information,” en5, p. 133. “On one hand we can say that the purpose of information retrieval systems has little to do with answering questions, satisfying needs, or even resolving anomalous states of knowledge. Rather, its ultimate purpose is to retrieve texts that will help users of the system do these things.”
This is what this short paper claims, but I’m thinking this is a bit narrow. Perhaps it is because I am, in a sense, inside the system, but I often use our systems as a typical user and as a cataloger (another kind of user) to do just that. I frequently look up a surrogate of an item (on the web and in the OPAC) to answer a question, satisfy a need, and/or resolve an ASK. I have no real desire in the document itself sometimes, just in a specific piece of metadata about it. For instance, I may look up a record of an item so I can import it into Zotero. Or, I may need to know if we have a previous edition of an item so I can assign the same call no. Or, do we have another item on this topic by the same author so I begin with the same cutter. In these cases, I could care less about retrieving the item itself.
As we expand our concept of information retrieval systems beyond the idea of an OPAC and databases these sorts of examples should proliferate. How about it? Can anyone think of any other examples of using an IR system (typical library or web 2.0 or otherwise) in a more direct fashion? That is, not to retrieve the document or text but to answer the question directly, resolve an ASK, etc.
Looking something up in Wikipedia fails as one is retrieving a document there. I guess one could argue that the surrogate that I retrieve in the OPAC is also a document. Sure. In one sense, I agree. But I think that’s fundamentally different than a Wikipedia article, say. And I think if I let the above view off the hook so easily then we are unnecessarily restricting our vision of what an IR system can be and be used for.
I am taking 2+ classes this semester:
Foundations of Information Processing in LIS with Dave Dubin (one of the most brilliant and generous men I have ever met)
Covers the common data and document processing constructs and programming concepts used in library and information science. The history, strengths and weaknesses of the techniques are evaluated in the context of our discipline. These constructs and techniques form the basis of applications in areas such as bibliographic records management, full text management and multimedia. No prior programming background is assumed.
Bibliography with Don Krummel, Professor Emeritus (one of the very few currently teaching emeritus faculty whom I have not taken a course with and a grand and erudite gentleman)
Covers enumerative bibliography, the practices of compiling lists; analytical bibliography, the design, production, and handling of books as physical objects; and historical bibliography, the history of books and other library materials, from the invention of printing to the present.
I would be a complete fool not to take this course with Dr. Krummel. I’ve been wanting to for a long time and now is my best, or only, chance.
By the way, this description has nothing to do with my distributed conversation across the biblioblogosphere the last 2 days. Seriously. But, yes, this will be based on the physical book. The historian in me will enjoy it.
But, more importantly to me, the product of the bibliography is applicable in a far greater context; it can cover many more containers than bound & printed books, and it itself can be contained in a variety of containers. E.g., see this bibliography.
The + is my independent study….
As of yesterday, I am now a monographic cataloging graduate assistant along with being the serials cataloging graduate assistant. I’ll be working 60% on top of my classes.
I began monographs this summer but it was as an hourly. Now I get a steady wage and have to work a prescribed number of hours, but I get vacation and sick days. Yay for vacation! [If I could only learn what this concept is supposed to mean. ]
This is the schedule for now. I need to fit Metadata Roundtable in there. ASIS&T 2007 in October. LEEP Weekend since Dave’s class is a distance class. Applying for jobs; perhaps interviewing….
This post is technically only for me, but feel free…. It is, in effect, a manually constructed “del.icio.us post” to collect the comments that I have made in the last day or so on issues of language. Oh, and some added-on self-analysis and rumination.
See Also…, A study of scanning habit : a couple of comments
Pegasus Librarian, The Book-ish-ness of Books : a couple of comments
Life as I Know It, A Book Is A Book Is A Book – Or Is It? : a couple of comments and an email exchange. Thanks, Jennifer! And I apologize for making your “head heart.”
Pegasus Librarian, The Book-ish-ness of Books : a couple of comments (but the same as above under Books)
Stephen’s Lighthouse, Internet Activity Index – From communication to content
On Assumptions about language use in tagging : my own post and especially my multiple comments on it.
All I can say is that I hope I have been reasonably coherent across this discussion, that I am thankful to everyone for making me think, and for participating in this conversation. I also hope that whether folks agree with me or not that they see that I think there is an important difference in these two (allowed) uses of book and that I am not just being pedantic.
Sorry, ripped myself off from my own comment at Jennifer’s place.
[All the below is really just me talking to me. Read it if you must. Perhaps it'd be better not being here. I don't know. Perhaps it'll do someone some good to see that others have serious questions in their own lives, too.]
I am not trying to be a pedant. I am not trying to be an ass. I am not trying to tell others how to use language.
I am trying to show that it might matter how they do, and why it does.
I am at an odd place in my life and in my career. For many reasons, I do not know “my place” in either. I have some vision(s) of how I might fit into the profession, but it is a difficult position. In fact, it is a position that I seem to be adopting along many axes. Bridge; boundary object.
I am not a good researcher, and quite likely never will be. I am (at the moment) not a good practitioner. That, I full well know, can be remedied. I have been an extremely good practitioner; in this field and others. But at the moment I am a neophyte struggling with a complex form of practice; one which some people would argue that I, and people like me, can never really succeed at. I even accept that argument; at least, in the best of all possible worlds. But we do not have that world; so I struggle to become a good descriptive and subject cataloger, be that traditional cataloging or metadata. [I was telling Tracy just today that things would be better if I could just be Candide....]
But I do, in many ways, by bent and education, sit in the middle of practice and research. I am reasonably good at seeing how each matters for the other. Kind of hard to make a living at that, though. And one always runs the risk of becoming a thorn in the side of both camps. C’est la vie!
This is one of the biggest splits in our field I feel. Perhaps I’ll have to learn to accept a measure of success as something along the line of 1-2 helped in their thinking and/or navigating the theory-practice divide to 10-12 regretting that they even heard of this particular thorn.
Praxis (in the Donald Schon sense) is what I want to affect and effect.
Kathryn and I had a discussion of something I might do in the realm of knowledge organization research today. It seems to fall into the middle ground as above. Pauline said she expects me to do important work. Bridging this divide, or more importantly, helping others do so, is important work. She didn’t say it’d be easy work. And I’m sure she didn’t mean so either.
But as your girl says:
and the woman who lives there can tell
the truth from the stuff that they say
and she looks me in the eye
and says would you prefer the easy way
no, well o.k. then
i do it for the joy it brings
because i’m a joyful girl
because the world owes me nothing
and we owe each other the world
i do it because it’s the least i can do
i do it because i learned it from you
and i do it just because i want to
because i want to
Or, for the other view:
come on kids, let’s all hold hands
and pretend we’re having a good time
so just suck up and be nice
cuz i’m a pixie
i’m a paper doll
i’m a cartoon
i’m a chipper cheerful free for all
and i light up a room
i’m the color me happy girl
miss live and let live
and when they’re out for blood
i always give
Jesus, my friend, how did we get here again?
I’m a small honeybee
I drown in the water
you are my hand in the well.
Bif Naked ¤ Hold On ¤ Purge
This morning I read a post at Nicole Engard’s blog, What I Learned Today…, about a Library Camp session. The post is titled “Library Camp – Weinberger & Cataloging.”
Before I begin, I want to make explicit that I am not picking on Nicole, the participants in this session, or anyone in particular. I may well use a few straw man arguments. I am not claiming that anyone is making these specific arguments, or that they might not nuance things a bit more if pressed.
My concern, though, is that they are making assumptions about language, language use, human behavior, and transferable benefits for which they have nothing but anecdotal evidence. By allowing these (usually) unstated assumptions to stand, they are, at best, collapsing some very important distinctions and, at worst, are, in effect, making the arguments I am suggesting.
This is one of those things that has been niggling away at me for a while which I have been unable to formulate coherently. Again, I am not claiming that anyone is overtly making these arguments; only that they are assuming too much. Nicole’s post and some of those cited in it are only “guilty” of helping me finally sort out my thinking some on this. There is much of value reported in Nicole’s post and it sounds like it was an interesting discussion. Thank you, Nicole.
I want to state from the start that I am for tagging. I tag. In many places. For several reasons. I am not advocating an either/or position. I want formal cataloging for resources that require that level (I should say, those levels) of description, and I want tagging for pretty much all resources.
A few quotes in particular that are useful to my concerns:
Minor issues first:
I am fairly certain that the vast majority of catalogers do not think in subject headings, either. The same holds for most librarians. Are we more adept in using them than the typical patron? Certainly. Can we employ them—perhaps even, “think in them”—when it is a good tactic for us to do so? Certainly.
Actually, this statement is so removed from the context in which it was uttered that I probably shouldn’t say anything. But my point—admittedly purely anecdotal—is that likely no one “thinks” in subject headings. We think about subject headings, when and as appropriate. And maybe (most?) of our users do not. Maybe the distinction that I am trying to draw is “pure semantics” in some folks’ book. OK. I am talking about meaning; I’m perfectly happy with it being a semantic distinction.
Based on some of the research that is beginning to come out (E.g., M. Kipp, J. Abbas), and on anecdote, people tag for a variety of reasons. Some of these are personal and some are social. I am overjoyed to see the realization that tagging is not only social as many seemed to think initially. But let’s please not go too far the other direction. There are multiple reasons that people tag, and they are not all personal. Various reasons are often employed synchronously and they will often be hard to pull apart. Again, this is minor.
My major concerns are about the assumptions contained in the last quoted bullet point.
(Some of the) Assumptions:
Keep in mind that I am critiquing many “arguments” that I have seen along these lines. I am sure that I have failed to extrapolate a few from this example and that—if I wasn’t too lazy to go find them—I could obtain more assumptions from other examples. I’m fairly sure that we’ve all seen a few examples like this one, though. [And I am generally using the language used in the post. I do not necessarily equate power users with taggers.]
I do not think that any of these assumptions can stand without real empirical data. I am more than willing to accept that (some) non-tagging users benefit from the tagging of others, but only if folks are also willing to accept that (some) users also benefit from traditional subject cataloging. The amount(s) and type(s) of benefit from each and for certain users in specific contexts is certainly an open empirical question, or set of questions more likely.
But my concern is the unstated AND between those two assumptions as I listed them.
As for the assumption (outright statement in this example) that subject headings are understandable only by librarians … well, that is simply ludicrous
Yes. There are certainly problems with various forms of subject headings, although I imagine the main issue is with LCSH. You will not find me doing a lot of defense of LCSH in its current instantiation. You will find me defending using controlled vocabularies (and other means) as appropriate for subject indexing. LCSH has many problems, as will any controlled vocabulary, especially one attempting to cover such a broad spectrum of topics. But uncontrolled vocabularies also have problems. They generally have other problems, which is one reason why we need both.
But to say that only librarians understand subject headings goes completely against the experiences of many library users of the last 100 years! Yes, they can be difficult. Especially in this day and age when we are all agreeing that people only want to dump one or two keywords into Google and be done.
But see. I don’t agree with that. And if I could learn to use the card catalog at the age of 5 then so can others who are not librarians. And please do not tell me that I must have used the Author file because you would generally be wrong. I was 5 years old! How familiar could I have been with “the literature.” Perhaps I could look up Syd Hoff, Dr. Seuss (See …), and a few others, but they certainly did not exhaust the topics I was interested in. Yes, topics. Displayed (and searched!) in a card catalog by subject headings and subject strings. No keyword searching allowed. So I must have “understood” subject headings, or at least how they worked. As do many others!
As for this binary division of the language community:
First off, to assume that there is one homogeneous community of language use within librarianship is simply laughable. Many of my good librarian friends and I would do better talking about TV shows (which I do not watch) than trying to communicate about our respective areas of librarianship. There are many communities of language use within librarianship!
By the way, please do not assume that I would be happy with a division of librarianship into catalogers and others. I would not! Take a 5-minute glance at AUTOCATs recent archives, for example, to see how vastly many communities there are even within catalogers. We are not all the same either!
To assume that there is a division of language use between librarians and all others is also fairly laughable. Two primary reasons. First, see two paragraphs above. Second, we ARE the others. We all belong to many different communities of interest and practice. We all belong to multiple language communities.
Yes. I fully realize that there seems to be some sort of difference between librarians and users. Call it professionalization or something else. We do—sometimes—speak differently. Just as I would speak differently if I was to discuss role-playing games than would someone who does not. There are good reasons for this. And, yes, it often gets in the way. But I am more than willing to totally ignore this with anyone who is willing to assume that this difference is greater than any of the other language differences between ourselves, our users, and our users and us.
Even if, and especially if, you disagree with me about the importance and location of these differences in language use then the burden is on you to show that the power user/tagger and casual user (non-tagging tag user) are in the same language use community. In fact, I maintain that this is one of the most critical points that needs to be shown by research in tagging.
Language in use (overt behavior) is pretty much all we have to go on regarding the study of people’s use of language. It seems pretty clear to me that the null hypothesis in this situation ought to be that these are (at least) two different language using communities based on the overt display of their use of language.
Taggers tag. They apply language to describe and otherwise label information resources. Whatever kind(s) of analysis employed, whatever reason(s) they do so, whatever benefit(s) they perceive for themselves or others … they use language to assign, attribute, credit, impute, associate, link, relate, classify, et. al. things with words. (These words may well be concepts, but that is a whole ‘nuther ball game.)
Non-tagging users of others’ tags do none of that. They use the labels, categories, links, etc. that others have assigned. No matter whether they use others’ tag or others’ formal subject analysis they are using decontextualized language. I would argue, though, that use of tagging (by others) is more decontextualized than, say, LCSH.*
This seems to me to be two vastly different (overt, demonstrated) ways of using language. On what basis can we even begin to say that they are the same (“they’re still not librarians – they’ll use the lingo that most people understand”) language using community? Please. Can anyone actually support this contention?
Also. Many taggers are librarians. I have no idea what percentage of taggers are librarians, nor do I have any idea what percentage of librarians are taggers. But until someone who wants to make these assumptions that I am critiquing proves otherwise, I am going to assume that the percentage of librarians who tag is higher than that of taggers in the general population.
Some of us taggers are even catalogers. You know, those people who think in subject headings. This seems to me to put those folks (me, for instance) in the same language using community as the taggers, but not that of the non-taggers. “Dang, what happened to my black and white divisions?,” you should be asking about now.
My point is not that there is nothing at all valid in these assumptions. There may well be, and probably is. But they are also highly flawed, and when they remain unstated and more importantly, unquestioned, they are dangerous. They blind us towards other ways of looking at the situation because we have already (unquestioningly) assumed that the situation is some way it may not, in fact, be. They are, to put it simply, simplistic.
The main point is that the world is not this simple. You cannot simply divide it into “us and them.” Language use, religious belief, sexual preference, whatever. Binary divisions rarely exist, except as unquestioned beliefs in individual minds.
So can we please stop with all the anecdotes and, in particular, those founded on faulty assumptions? A simple perusal of an article such as “Folksonomies: Tidying Up Tags?” by Marieke Guy and Emma Tonkin ought to persuade anyone that even considering the power users/taggers as a single, coherent language community is a non-starter.
Again, I’d like to thank Nicole and those she cited for helping me clarify my thinking.
* This is due to the fact that—with a little work—some context can be retrieved from working with a group of resources that have been assigned LCSH. Some tagging systems also allow for some retrieval of context with a bit of work, but many do not. This could change as our systems—both formal and informal—evolve. My point is simply that none of this is simple.
[Yes, I realize that is a British (or alternative) spelling of judgment. I prefer it. It looks stupid to me otherwise.]
I know that many of you could care less, but I have added a section on many of my musical compilations to my web site. Perhaps I should stipulate that I mean since the era of CD recording, and, more importantly, the era of CD recording in my life.
I have made assorted compilations since at least 1979. All of these were meaningful to me in some sense. But beginning in 1999 and the experience of my divorce I began recording these more as musical diaries. As I say on the main music page:
The following is a list of the CDs that I have recorded mostly for myself, often for others. I got my audio CD recorder in mid-1999 about the time of my divorce because there were too many CDs to split. Seeing as that is also about the time I came back to life in a very real sense I naturally started recording compilation CDs – but from now on they’d serve in a more symbolic way. They became about the construction, deconstruction, reconstruction, delineation, and judgment of the world in which I find myself, and the one I would like to see realized… In other words, they are, in a sense, my diary. I’d like to issue a hearty caveat lector though. Do not read too deeply into any particular lyric, concept, etc. In some cases I have captured the mood better than in others, in some I can no longer recall the original meaning, sometimes I can but it has a different one now… These are all consequences of, or are they data, or maybe premises for, my theory of music.
You may notice that they start losing titles near the end. Lack of finished liner notes happened even sooner. This is a real shame as there is really no way to go back and do them. Meanings shift or are forgotten. The last several were recorded under some of the worst conditions of my life. I was recovering from severe clinical depression and the realities of the world in which I found myself—and in particular, my job—had me completely unbalanced and highly suicidal. Those last few rarely are listened to anymore; they are too painful.
The page ends kind of abruptly about this time in 2003. That is the last CD compilation—as diary—that I made. I did record a 2-disc compilation for jennimi in the very early days of this year based somewhat on another binary set that are “deeply” meaningfully named Cataloging Music and Cataloging Music 2. Thankfully I did a better job naming the compilations I sent her. Those are the only compilations I have recorded since August 2003. Grad school, even as ridiculously easy as an LIS education is, got in the way.
I would love to get back to the recording of music that is deeply meaningful to me. I am—again—trying to be better about journaling. Blogging has had a serious negative impact on keeping a journal of things not said out loud and publicly. Hopefully there is some meaning in those things I do say “out loud and publicly,” but there is far more in what is not said.