Sunday, Oct 21
Who Is Tagging Information? – Edward C. Lomax (Georgia State U), Hsin-liang “Oliver” Chen (U of MO-Columbia), and June Abbas (SUNY-Buffalo).
Lomax spoke about Social Tagging in K-12 Education; Chen spoke about Social Tagging and Newspapers; Abbas spoke about Tagging and Libraries and Museums.
The panel was down two members so that had some impact on the program.
I’m not going to get into details as I took few notes but despite June’s best efforts this panel was only the first of several that really left me depressed about this portion of my field. I later had a conversation with June (and have had a few on other occasions) and I know she gets it. But what the heck is most everyone else’s problem(s)?
There are fundamental issues with tagging (as with anything else) in libraries and, in particular, as a means of access and retrieval. But these can be dealt with. Anyone who reads me regularly well knows that I am quick to play devil’s advocate and ask the tough questions while all the cool kids are espousing how great something is. But good God! Can we please move forward with some real research in this area? I most certainly do not mean to disparage June’s or Margaret Kipp’s (and a very few others) here. They are doing good work, but can we please support them?
My conference roommate was also quite disturbed by the state of research in this area and it was having a serious impact on his view of his first ASIS&T. When he questioned me as to why this was it sounded like he was putting much of the blame on the researchers. But this is not the case at all. Tag researchers in no way control the systems (OPAC, tag systems,etc.) that (may) implement these tools. Let’s hope PennTags is doing something useful with their data; even better would be if they’ll share that data with outside researchers.
Another big issue in this equation is that large-scale, easily implementable tag systems are fairly new. Certainly far newer than the 10 years of research in tagging.
Here are only some of the disparate reasons why my roommate and I are so depressed about this:
Much is based on audience reaction(s): complete misunderstanding of tagging and/or how it even works [researchers have to give demonstrations of how tagging works in a session before presenting their research or the audience will be completely lost]; what about Internet predators?; do tags need to be vetted?; what about bad words?; are we just going to throw out privacy?; we can’t have the public adding things to our records, ….
In some cases it is the presenters themselves who are not really prepared to investigate such a multiply complex topic that they have happened to find interesting. One of the presenters in this session offered Amazon.com as the gold standard of tagging sites. Excuse me? There were several other non-starters offered up by two of the panelists but perhaps in the sake of mental health I have repressed them.
Yes, there are serious issues to be addressed in this area. I do not mean to make light of them. But if we cannot move further quickly now that we have systems that will allow us to do some real and useful research then we are failing ourselves and, more importantly, users.
Can someone please provide funding and access to a quality system to folks like June Abbas and Margaret Kipp?
Theoretical/Methodological Exploration (Papers)
Megan A. Winget (UTA) – “A Methodology and Model for Studying Boundary Objects, Annotations and Collaborative Practices: Musicians and Musical Scores.”
Jason M. Turner (Air Force Inst. of Tech.) – “Towards a Social Affordances Perspective of Media Capabilities and Interface Design.”
Miles Efron (UTA) – “What Crossword Puzzles Teach Us About Information.”
Upfront admission, I went to this session primarily based on the crossword paper. Boy, was I ever surprised!
I may not be a musician but Winget’s presentation was fascinating! I look forward to reading the whole thing. She looked at score annotations across amateur, semi-pro, and professional musicians in chamber group and orchestra settings. Annotations are almost always fascinating and this area was especially so.
As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the few must reads from the sessions I attended. Get your hands on the proceedings and read this one.
Efron on crossword puzzles was, for me, a big disappointment. As far as I’m concerned his title is a complete misnomer and a big unanswered and unaddressed question.
He took a mathematical approach to determining the difficulty level of the weekday New York Times crossword puzzles. As you may know, the difficulty level of the NYT puzzle (generally) increases from Monday to Saturday. The puzzle editor is the one to determine which puzzles are printed on which days. This work is an attempt to formalize that determination.
On one hand, it is kind of interesting and it works reasonably well. He also made sure to restrict his claims to being able to determine the difficulty level of a puzzle as to which day of the week it should be offered on and not as to the difficulty level of a specific puzzle for any individual puzzle solver. Kudos for that! Nonetheless, it really doesn’t seem to teach us anything about information and, more importantly, this sort of mathematical approach to word play is an anathema to me and many other word lovers. Color me mostly disappointed in this one.
Dinner at The King and I (Thai) with Karen, Wei and Gina (fellow UIUC students).
Welcome Reception/SIG Rush.
Monday, 22 Oct
Assuring Quality in the Information Professions – Nancy Roderer (moderator), Ann Prentiss (for José-Marie Griffiths), Charles Henry (CLIR), and Libby Trudell (Dialog)
Prentiss presented some early results from a 2006 IMLS study for Griffiths who could not be there at the last moment. Due to this we couldn’t get much beyond the slide content and it is early results. There may be something interesting to come out of this study, and I hope there will be, but not so much yet.
Henry as the President of CLIR had some interesting things to say.
Context: higher education, specifically the profound changes in HE, and the continual redefinement of libraries in HE
1 Rise of cyberinfrastructure – 3 major reports recently on the sciences, social sciences, and humanities are all in agreement
- technical layer
- new kinds of expertise [these 3 are the definition of cyberinfrastructure]
leads to new research methods and new intellectual strategies [CLIR is more interested in these, along with the incredible collaboration that arises (from Q&A)]
2 Rise of new disciplines
3 Rise of undergraduate research
4 New models of scholarly publishing – books and articles less and less as growth of knowledge, more and more as accreditation
Trudell (Senior VP at Dialog and on SLA Board of Directors)
Context: Information industry and the role of info pros in business
- Service supply side: large number of roles
- Product development end: design, QA, editorial, product documentation
- Senior management roles
Professional competencies across this broader perspective:
- core competencies
- people skills
- business savvy
- strategic perspective
- attitudes – assertiveness, proactiveness, flexibility, driver for change
Spectrum – varies by role
technical vs. content
knowledge of particular target area, e.g., pharma, …
Person should have an interest in a wide variety of ways info can contribute to success of the organization.
How can industry contribute?
- expand core curriculum
- partner in creative ways
- professional organizations, continuing certification, advocate for values of profession
What is role of service provider?
- on-going education and training: product/content, “Quantum program”/leadership development
- provide support for prof. orgs./library schools to do their jobs
Key is vendor participation in prof. orgs., not just as vendor display & funding, but as colleagues, and investment in education.
Archivists and info managers are much more embedded in orgs. than libraries.
What about the downsides?
- HE doesn’t study itself closely. Info pros see these changes more clearly. Thus, we have an opportunity to lead. Onus is on us to do so.
Plenary: Anthea Stratigos, Outsell, Inc.
I took a few notes that I am not going to reproduce. This was highly disappointing on so many levels. ASIS&T is full of corporate and business types along with academics and practicing professionals, but I resent being sold a message of the market economy, which is all this boiled down to!
She really rubbed some of us the wrong way when she started off the section on the Library Environment with a slide with a picture of a card catalog and the caption, “It Used to be Simple.” While there is some truth to what she was trying to get at there are much better ways to get at that truth visually. There simply is nothing simple about the card catalog as a technology and/or information environment! While I am well aware that many of my colleagues think there was, it only goes to show their lack of education and understanding of history and systems.
I was so proud of Karen for going up during the Q&A and correcting Ms. Stratigos on this point. Oh, one should know that Karen is highly mathematical and her research focuses on the application of logic in our field. Way to represent, Karen!
One of her main claims is that libraries are not keeping up and/or moving fast enough. Of course, this claim was across libraries broadly. Enough said.
Under What Does this All Mean? we get the claim that all of this is “creating a permanent shift in consumer habits.” Sorry, Ms. Stratigos, but there is nothing permanent about this shift (these shifts, would be truer, also)! Shifts have happened before and will happen again. Shift may be permanent, but this shift is certainly not.
Under A New Order Emerges we get the shift from product-centric to market-centric. We also get Information as Entertainment and Entertainment as Information (ala Richard Saul Wurman). As something to celebrate. Perhaps I ought to learn to play the fiddle at this point?
Essential Actions gets summarized in the statement, “Be a digital marketer delivering a digital experience.” Um, no thank you.
So, yes, a marketing talk delivered by a marketer.
Lunch at the mall with Christina Pikas.
Poster Session II
Most interesting to me:
How Incorrect Information Delivers Correct Search Results: A Pragmatic Analysis of Queries. Jin Ha Lee and Allen Renear (UIUC)
What Exactly Is an Item in the Digital World? Ingbert R. Floyd and Allen Renear (UIUC). How often do you find research with two different views presented?
Tag Decay: A View into Aging Folksonomies. Terrell Russell (UNC-CH)
Tagging the Tags … Process, Observations and Analysis of Conversations in Metatagging at an ASIS&T Interactive Poster Session. Jennifer E. Graham and June M. Abbas. (SUNY-Buffalo). This was an initial follow-up to their amazing poster at last years ASIS&T. [Photo from about the mid-point.] Great stuff!
Knowledge Organization Systems (KOS) Standards – Marcia Zeng (Kent State U), Margie Hlava (Access Innovations), Jian Qin (Syracuse U), Gail Hodge (Information International Associates), and Denise Bedford (World Bank Group)
Zeng covered some of the work that the ASIS&T Standards Committee did this past year [I am a member of this committee].
Hlava covered KOS standards, focusing primarily on the US and British controlled vocabulary standards.
Qin covered Encoding KOS: Languages for Machine Understanding and Processing.
Hodge covered KOS in the Government Environment: From Traditional Thesauri to Standards Integration.
“Agencies are interested in how better management of semantics can improve organization and access.” This quote makes me smile (as long as I ignore a literal parsing of “management of semantics”).
Bedford discussed Popularization and Use of Standards at World Bank. This was real-world usage on a vast scale across many languages. Fascinating stuff. My jaw about hit the floor when she said they use MultiTES! Primarily due to its reporting capabilities. Now MultiTES is just one small part of a very complex system, but still ….
I was also quite impressed when she said that recently one group within WB wanted to add an area to the system. Something like 91,000 terms reduced to under 15,000 and properly related in something like 2 weeks! Clearly she has better systems and more people than when I was doing real-world thesaural work, but I still find that amazing.
Standards Committee meeting
Dinner at The King and I with Edward Corrado, Heather Pfeiffer, Emma Tonkin, Margaret Kipp and Qiping Zhang.
Tuesday and Wednesday to follow