Long time gone

[This post title is, for me, multi-meta in that it refers to several things.]

It has been a long time since I’ve been here. Part of me is sad about this fact and part of me thinks that is just fine.

A lot has happened since I last wrote here:

I quit my job as a serials cataloger at the University of Illinois so I could concentrate on (then) upcoming weddings and our move.

Sara and I were married in late May in a small but wonderful ceremony amongst family and friends in a cabin on the banks of the Sangamon River.

At the very beginning of June I started prepping for our move to Sioux City, Iowa.

A couple of weeks later, my daughter got married in Oberlin, Ohio in an even simpler, but absolutely lovely and moving, ceremony to a wonderful young man that I couldn’t be prouder to be related to.

On the evening of 3 July we left Urbana, IL and headed for Sioux City. As of 4 July we are residents of Sioux City. This is a vastly different place  than Urbana-Champaign, in so many ways. We are still getting it sorted out but we will.

We had a good week and a half before Sara had to start her job and we made good use of it. Sara worked for 3 days and then we took a vacation to the Black Hills of South Dakota to spend some time in a couple of cabins with some friends of Sara’s from high school and their respective significant others and children. On the way home we drove through the Badlands. I have a couple of pictures up but I have 100s more to be tagged, labeled, decided upon and uploaded. Suffice it to say that it was beautiful! And being the against much of pop culture fiend that I am, we skipped Wall Drug (unfortunately not the signs though), Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse.

Once back Sara got back to work and is enjoying learning the ropes of this vastly different, and vastly smaller, university. I got back to work on organizing the house, merging two large book collections, much of which was in storage, along with merging two large CD collections, of which all of hers were in storage. There is still a bit to do on all the house organizing fronts but it is definitely getting there.

Shortly after we got here we bought ourselves a 32″ LG HDTV with built-in netflix streaming so we’ve been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and some other things.

We’ve been taking an online class on HTML5 via SitePoint and in a few weeks will take one on CSS3. They were $9.95 each! So the last 2 weeks that is what we’ve been doing in the evenings when Sara gets home from work. (And, yes, I know the CSS3 course says it is $14.95 but by signing up for both at the same time we got a $5 discount!) I think that for the price they are quite good. As with any class it is (mostly) about what you put in to it.

Speaking of courses, Briar Cliff University has a 100% tuition remission policy for spouses so I’ll be taking a 1 credit class this fall called Madwomen Poets. About all I know about it is that it includes Sexton and Plath. But who cares what, if anything, else it might be? Who could ignore a class entitled Madwomen poets?

I know. I know. I’m supposed to be doing other things, “more important” things. And I am. But it is 50 minutes, 1 day/week. I figure it’ll help keep my mental chops in order. And at this point I still don’t know if I’ll be taking it for a grade or auditing.

As to that more  important stuff … I am ramping back up the work on my CAS thesis via several angles of attack. I am working on the paper proper and I am also working on a journal article, which will be highly related (as in with a little reworking can become a chapter), and I am thinking about trying to come up with a presentation for a conference in early December. The conference is “Semantics for Robots: Utopian and Dystopian Visions in the Age of the ‘Language Machine’. ‘The Language Machine’ is one of Roy Harris’ early books, of course.

As for conferences, I am really sad that I will not be able to attend ASIS&T in Pittsburgh this year. But seeing as we gave up about $40k in income with me not working there is little means of justifying the expense of travel and lodging. And, honestly, the registration cost is plain crazy for an unemployed non-student, non-retiree.

Sara and I decided that the Integrationist conference in Chicago in December, along with being far cheaper, is really more where I need to be right now. I need exposure to more Integrationists and Integrational thinking and I will get far more out of a small conference (as I always do) than a bigger one. Whether or not I can get something submitted (and possibly accepted) I am highly looking forward to it. Nonetheless, this will be the 1st ASIS&T I’ve missed since I started going in 2006.

And if any of my Chicago friends are reading this, I’d adore an invite to stay with you for a couple days in early December (2nd-4th, or so), especially if you are near the Univ. of Chicago.

Tomorrow night we are, thanks to a surprise from Sara, going to see Jackson Browne and David Lindley and the historic Orpheum Theatre here in Sioux City. I have been listening to (early) Jackson Browne for close to 40 years now. I haven’t really kept up with anything since the mid-80s or so but, nonetheless, I am stoked to finally get to see him live for the first time.

We also have a Super Secret Date night scheduled for Sunday night. Sara had that lined up well before we left Urbana. She offered me the chance to find out what it’ll be last night but I passed. I like the surprises! She’s done so well every time in the past. And it also makes me aware that it is past time for me to step up in the Super Secret Date Night scheduling department.

And in case anyone who cares isn’t aware of it yet, my son is in Afghanistan for his 3rd war zone tour. He left just days after we moved. Grrrr.

I guess I best end this for now. It is getting long and the simple shock of seeing a post from me is probably enough already. With any hope I won’t be gone as long before the next time.

ASIST 2009 in Vancouver

In Vancouver, BC for ASIST 2009 Annual Meeting: Thriving on Diversity: Information Opportunities in a Pluralistic World.

Today is the 20th SIG-CR (Classification Research) Workshop: Bridging Worlds, Connecting People: Classification Transcending Boundaries.

1st session, which I’m in now, is titled: Crossing Cultural Boundaries: Indigenous Knowledge Organization. Moderator: Hope Olson. Papers are: Language, Text and Knowledge Organization: One Native American Story by Cheryl Metoyer; and, Martin Nataka’s “Indigenous Standpoint”: Toward a Theoretical Location for Indigenous Knowledge Organization by Ann Doyle. [These are not listed on the website. See link above for SIG-CR for titles of other papers below.]

2nd session will be Crossing Disciplinary Boundaries. Moderator: Barbara Kwasnik. Papers by Szostak & Gnoli, Ali Shiri, and Xiaoli Huang.

3rd session will be Crossing the Boundaries of Convention. Moderator: Corinne Jorgensen. Papers by Amelia Abreu, Kwan Yi, and Gabel and Smiraglia.

4th session will be Crossing System/Searcher Boundaries. Moderator: Dagobert Soergel. Papers by Marianne Lykke-Nielsen, Jens-Erik Mai, and Joseph Tennis.

Seems the paper by Timothy Patrick will not be presented.

There are also a handful of posters, including one by UIUC’s Ingbert FLoyd, Thomas Dousa and Michael Twidale.

Looking forward to seeing a bit of Vancouver and seeing colleagues again. I have already seen 3 of my 4 co-panelists from last year. In fact, they are here at SIG-CR.

When we head home we will be taking the train from Seattle over to Chicago, and then another to Champaign. I am really looking forward to that bit of the trip, too.

habitually probing generalist

Change of blog name

I have changed the name of my blog. Again. This time it should not break any of the Internet nor should you need to change feeds; I hope.

3 years ago tomorrow I moved my blog to WordPress and renamed it Off the Mark. This was after a few years of blogging at Typepad under the name …the thought are broken…. I had put out a call for suggestions and for slightly different reasons both Walt Crawford and Richard Urban recommended Off the Mark. For those and other reasons I liked it. But over time various (possible) connotations have been bugging me. I was certainly aware of them then but I dismissed them, at least in my own mind.

A few months after renaming my blog I read an article for a class and my tagline was born. That tagline is now being promoted to the name of my blog. Henceforth, this space is to be known as habitually probing generalist.

I feel that that far better represents me and how I’d like to be known. For now, Off the Mark will be my tagline.

In the interest of disclosure, I feel that the primary reason for this change is that which I stated above—Off the Mark carries certain negative connotations which I no longer am willing to ignore and habitually probing generalist better represents the external face I want to present. Secondarily, though, I cannot deny that the phrase “off the mark” is heavily represented and used on the Internet. There is a greeting card company with that name (I have enjoyed giving a card or 3 to others from that company; check them out) and at least another blog or two, besides being a common phrase in its own right. “Habitually probing generalist” appears to be only used by me and a few others who have referenced my tagline. Thus, I am laying claim to it. Carole Palmer deserves a boatload of credit for it but I alone am responsible for this specific formulation.

Working toward this change I made myself a new favicon about 2 weeks ago. No longer is my favicon barely distinguishable pink flowers but is a blue background with a whitish “hpg” in it. I still need to do a little code editing so the fonts are switched for the name and tagline on the blog but that can wait. A looming physical move takes precedence.

With my blogging output over the last year a few of you might well ask “What is the point of a name change for a moribund blog?” Sadly, that is a valid question. I cannot make any promises but ….

CAS project

Friday I met with my academic advisor, Dean John Unsworth, about my CAS paper, for the first time in about 11 months. The gist of what we discussed is that things are settling down in my life (as much as possible for someone with a temporary job) and that I am ready, and looking forward, to beginning on the job of writing and defending this paper.

First, I must get physically moved across town and somewhat unpacked but then I should be able to devote far more time to it than I was willing to over the last year. The love of my life and I will live together and there will be no more of that whose apartment are we going to?, are you/am I spending the night?, blah blah. Perhaps more importantly, I will have research time once my 2nd year Visiting Professor appointment starts 16 August. This should make a major difference in my mental ability to focus on the task at hand. Also, S will be majorly busy and working many hours in September and October so I hope to use some of that time to get back in the flow of reading and writing towards a directed end.

My time over the last year has by no stretch been a waste! I have read far more broadly in a vast array of disciplines, topics and genres, which has better prepared me to think about and critique the actual use of language and communication. I was on a panel at ASIS&T last year where I spoke about Integrationism in regards to tagging. I also attended the 1st Ethics of Information Organization conference this May.

I now have an idea for a draft proposal for a presentation at the 2nd Ethics conference next year. This also forms a small but core portion of my critique of the uses of the concepts of language and communication in LIS. Thus, working towards fleshing this out will be a big help in a key premise of my argument. I might also be able to then expand on it or shift it a bit to present at ASIS&T or the SIG-CR preconference next year in 2010.

I also have an idea for a way to have interested parties work with me to compile a “listing” of theories of language and communication used in LIS and citations of works that explicitly use them, well or not. On this head, though, I am first doing a bit of research to seed the list and to determine what might be the best tool to use for a (small, I assume) group to manage it while making it publicly available. Stay tuned.

… and this means what for the blog?

Well, I hope that I will blogging much of what I get up to. I will need to reread many things and refresh my memory of what they say. Summarizing these for the blog is a possibility, as is comparing and contrasting ideas. Bouncing ideas and/or draft paragraphs/sections of my paper or my conference presentation ideas off of my readers are distinct possibilities, too.

No promises. But. I hope that I can claim that—for the near future, at least—I am back.

Sing a song with a friend
Change the shape that I’m in,
And get back in the game,
And start playin’ again

John Prine. Clay Pigeons.

ASIS&T 2008

[Update 3 Nov 2008: Just uploaded a revised PPT with updated Notes which are much closer to what I spoke from. Although, they clearly are not what I said verbatim.]

ASIS&T is going well.  I arrived late Saturday afternoon in Columbus (OH) and am getting along fine with my roommate whom I met over the Internet by posting to my blog.

Our panel* went well yesterday and I am far happier with my portion than I thought I’d be. I have received some nice comments since, including one from a “luminary.”  I was asked if I’d be posting my slides and I said I would. I still need to make an explicit entry on my “Writings” page but here are the links for now.

http://marklindner.info/presentations/ASIST2008/mrlASIST2008.pdf [This is large! 6.2 MB PDF]

http://marklindner.info/presentations/ASIST2008/mrlASIST2008.ppt [3.1 MB Powerpoint]

My friend, Christina, blogged the panel I was on here. She is also blogging many other sessions at her blog, Christina’s LIS Rant.  She also told me that what I said was more important than my slides. While there are notes in the PPT they aren’t the final ones I used.  Perhaps I’ll post those at some point. Of course, they aren’t exactly or entirely what I said either.

Socializing is going well. I’ve seen several interesting posters and a few good sessions. And tomorrow night I’ll get to see my “baby girl.” That is, the one who turns 25 on Election Day.

* “Tagging as a Communication Device: does every tag cloud have a silver lining.” My portion was a suggestion that tagging researchers make an explicit commitment to a theory of language and communication. If you were to guess that I even had one to suggest—Integrationism—you’d be right.

Thus, I tried to give a very, very basic intro to Integrationism, show how community fits into/is described by the macrosocial (within the theory), and how tagging (as a user behavior) can be explained by Integrationism.  As I said above, I have gotten some nice feedback and interested a couple people in Harris and Integrationism. That, my friends, was the entirety of my scheme. Mission accomplished. 🙂

Tis just a wee fuss for my friend Pikas

Today is Christina Pikas’ (of Christina’s LIS Rant) birthday.  Seeing as I’ll be seeing her in pretty much exactly a month at ASIS&T and she’ll be able to personally kick me for this, I decided to write her a little birthday ditty.

Tis just a wee fuss for my friend Pikas

I awoke this morning all a twitter,
my friend she is a knitter.

Once a naval officer, always a veteran,
she’s the physicists’ friend and librarian.

Whether slogging her way to a PhD with reliance
or blogging about the intricacies of science,

Her work is very prudent
because she is a student.

Committed as any star ASIST member,
she was born once upon a far September.

Often, though, she may Rant,
steer you wrong she shan’t.

Her name it is Christina,
her mind as sharp as concertina.

Tis the birthday of a Pikas
so let us all make a bit of a wee fuss.

Happy, Happy Birthday, Christina! I couldn’t help myself. 😉

Writing this reminded me that I had done this once before; that is, wrote a birthday poem and posted it here.  I also see I swore never to post my “poetry” here again. Ah well, not exactly a lie, I guess.

And technically, that previous post includes two poems as did the birthday card in which they originally appeared. The 2nd was called *”On the use of ‘beauty’”.  And, yes, that asterick implies that it was a “footnote.”

Need roommate for ASIS&T 2008 in Columbus

Is anyone looking for a roommate for ASIS&T 2008 in Columbus, OH this October?

I am a reasonably quiet, non-smoking, male, old enough not to be partying late into the night.

Sharing a room is pretty much a necessity since I’m still a student, work for hourly pay and the entire cost of the conference is on me. Seeing as I’m on a panel I kind of have to go. 😉

Early bird registration ends this coming Friday, Sep. 12th., although room reservations at the conference hotel have a little longer for the conference rate.

Haven’t decided if I am coming for any preconferences or not yet but I will be arriving Saturday at some point so will need a room Saturday night through and including (probably) Wednesday night.

If you need or desire a roommate please contact me at mark [dot] r {dot} lindner (@) gmail [dot] com.  Much appreciated.

What have I been up to?

What a question. I feel like I need a recap of some of it myself sometimes.

I hope to have some semi-substantial blog posts and/or Flickr sets for some of these but I’d like to get them mentioned before they all become old news.

[some kind of division]

Been watching a fair few movies, started running (4x 5x 6x now), and have been taking and uploading lots of photos.

“Article” project

This is an ongoing project that I got a recent jump on due to my school hiatus, if it is possible to say that [hiatus, that is].

Flickr set. Main pic.

This is one of the things I’ve been considering blogging. But it mostly seems like a waste of time; for any system to work for someone it must meet their individual—current and future—modes of working. Any idiot can say: enter them into a citation manager (that meets your needs), put them into some sort of order (which also meets your needs), and stick them in something (that works for you).

Besides, who else has so many printed and photocopied things?

Much of what I might say is already in the Flickr set via notes and comments; especially on the “main pic.” By the way, I could very simply publish assorted bibliographies of all this, to include good discovery metadata (COinS).

Reading some David Bade things

UIUC Progressive Librarians Guild is hosting a lunch time (11:30-1 PM) discussion with David Bade on Monday, 21 April 2008.

Technology Waits For No One: Thinking About Technology, Progress and Responsibility in Academic Librarianship

I’ve been getting something on e-reserve (Harris’ Epilogue) and making another short Word doc available.

David’s been sharing a few other things with me, too. 🙂

Job Search

Nothing going on here. Have nothing out at the moment.

The End of the Semester

We have 3 weeks left in the semester and then finals week. After Subject Access/Analysis seminar Tuesday, one of my fellow classmates asked me how I was dealing with the end of the semester. I had to tell her, not so bad, but then it isn’t the end for me.

She knows I’m only sitting in on Subject Access/Analysis and that I was sitting in on Allen’s Ontologies, but she rightly assumed I should be taking something. Anyway, I kind of felt a little bad cause I knew she was just looking for a little commiseration and reassurance that we’ll both get through. And in a sense, I took that from her. So. Bad.

But about 20 minutes later when I realized that this was the first semester in 10 years in which I wasn’t facing her exact situation, I decided that I will not feel bad about not being in that space right now when I “fail” more of my friends.

But I am prepared now. I can most certainly empathize, sympathize, feel you, and so on to an extraordinary level. I will not lord my situation over any one [cause I’d like to have been finishing, too]. But I will not feel bad when any of my friends put us in the same same situation as Tuesday afternoon.

I am taking a Deferral on my paper; hope to write it in the Fall.

Since I won’t be walking the stage and I’ll be going to the GSLIS Commencement any way [lots of friends’ big day] I volunteered to help. Looks like I’ll be the “candid photographer.” Will have to have lots of little short conversations but I’ll be “forced” to move around and see folks at Commencement and at the reception. 🙂

[Volunteering. It’s an addiction.] [Also got 2 other students to volunteer. Surely that counts towards being an Enabler of Vices.]

[the other part of the union of topics]

ASIS&T panel

Mentioned this a bit back. Been trying to work out what we are actually doing based on reviewers’ feedback.

Fifth Annual GSLIS Storytelling Festival, Saturday, 18 April

[Audio] [My Flickr set] [Program]

I know that I’ve made 3 of these, but I might have actually made the last four. It is always excellent. Excellent storytelling and excellent art on the whiteboard behind the tellers. I have taken photos the last 3 years but since I sit in the back row and feel that the flash would be intrusive to, well, everyone, I haven’t gotten too many good ones. This year’s camera is radically different than the ones in the past. It worked better and I got some good shots. And then ….

I was out of memory. WTF? I’d already replaced the batteries, but that’s routine. Out of memory? I only remember running out of memory once. That was shortly after getting my first digital camera and was at the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis in April 2006. It was Spring and there were 100,000s of flowers and trees in bloom and I took a couple hundred photos. But never since.

Well. I had bought a larger capacity memory card than came standard when I got my first camera, and it subsequently moved into 2 more cameras. 256MB.

I keep forgetting that at some point recently I managed to accidentally put the new camera in highest-quality mode. Yeah. I got 74 pictures. It filled up right before Rachel Shulman and thus I missed almost the whole back half of the program. I really feel bad about that.

So I remedied that a couple days ago. For probably less than I paid for the 256MB card initially, I bought a 4GB card. And if I somehow fill that one up before exhausting all the batteries I can carry then I have a “small” backup card. Sweet!

The Festival was awesome! And the art this year was superb. It was done this year, and I think the year before last, by Tiffany Carter. [I had to ask. And I suggested that whoever the artist is each year ought to have their name in the program; it may have been once before.] [Left-side] [Right-side]

Afterwards, a few of us went to a friend’s house and had a drink, conversation, and cat-watching and NSFW [you get my water bottle there].

Opportunity sent my way

A person of quality recently sent me a nice opportunity; thank you. Still to hear from the other party, though.


Found out Monday that my petition to withdraw from my independent study was denied. So that means I will either be keeping that F and my A- GPA. Or I do something about it for my own pride.

This was not good news but I was kind of expecting it. Have not decided what I am doing yet. Considering possibilities; talking to some folks. Lots of things going on around here that could use some terminologies services thinking.

Scheming and pondering at the same time.

Crane Alley Guinness Mondays

A little birdie whispered in my ear that the Alley would soon be doing away with the Monday $2 Guinness / Harp special. I have feared this one coming for a while now, too. Seems they want to run some other specials. Fair enough, I guess, but it will affect my lifestyle. And they’ll get a lot less of my money.

Sara is going to library school

My daughter called me on my birthday (back in Feb.) to tell me “Happy Birthday and, oh, by the way, I’m applying to library school.” I hadn’t even known it was on the table. I was hoping that Sara might wander on to grad school some day but I wasn’t going to harass her. We’d talk about it when she wanted to let me know what she was thinking. She worked very hard her whole life in school, but especially throughout high school, because she knew if she wanted an opportunity for a good education she was responsible for it, in many ways. Four more years of school at Oberlin took its toll.

I do not prod my kids for much in the way of information. I know another parent who does that and it drives the kids crazy. I’d rather have what they want me, or think I need, to know than a bit more grudgingly dragged from them.

Monday evening, Sara called to tell me she got accepted. Yippee! She’s currently an indexer & abstracter at Chemical Abstracts where she intends to remain full-time with a flexible schedule. Her education is in chemistry and she has a year of nanotech research under her belt prior to about 8 months at Chem Abs so far.

Other than probably academic, I have no idea what area of librarianship she intends to focus on. And I’m happy with that. I’m twice her age and I changed my mind after getting here so she ought to have that opportunity. I have, of course, put her in touch with Christina because if Sara is thinking sci/tech librarianship then this is my friend best suited to introduce her to that world.

Also trying to talk her into coming to ASIS&T this year since it’s in her city.

[Yes. I purposely left out where she’s attending. It is not here, which is perfectly fine.]

Sandy Berman and panel

Wednesday evening, Sandy Berman and 3 others, along with a moderator, joined in a panel discussion on the question of, “What is a progressive librarian?” [Flickr set]

  • Carolyn Anthony, Director, Skokie Public Library
  • Sandy Berman
  • Allison Sutton, Social Science Librarian, UIUC
  • Anke Voss, Archivist, Champaign County, IL
  • Moderator : Abdul Alkalimat, Professor, GSLIS

I had volunteered to meet Sandy at the Illini Union and walk him over to GSLIS at 5:15. I went to the Quad side of the Union, visited the ATM, tried to call my son back, and took some photos to kill a few minutes before meeting Sandy out front.

Seeing as I knew I only had a few minutes alone with Sandy I took a peek at his site and checked out his biography [probably have a copy somewhere, but this was easier]. I noticed he had spent a few years in Germany in the 60s so I took that as my angle. Upon meeting him he immediately asked me what my story was. Knowing I had about 7 minute tops I gave a 2-minute or so answer [stop snickering, you!], to which he politely asked a couple further questions. So somewhere a bit past halfway to GSLIS as soon as I had given my latest reply to Sandy I spit out something along the lines of, “Iknewwe’donlyhaveafewminutestogether / soIscannedyourbioforsomethingofinterest /andIwanttoaskyouaboutyourtimeinGermany.” To which we immediately had a short but spirited conversation with many points in common. We have shared several locations in space (Germany) together, just about 15 years apart.

Sandy was quite easy to talk to and before you knew it we were at GSLIS. I handed him off to Abdul Alkalimat, our moderator. Turns out they had met when Sandy was in Uganda in 1971-72.

I got a few photos of the pot luck that aren’t necessarily good photos but they capture the feel. Most of the photos are of the panel discussion, which was quite good.

Afterwards, Abdul, Kate Williams (GSLIS faculty), Sandy, I and a few other students went to Murphy’s for a beer. Nice time, to say the least, except for the table of very loud undergrad boys next to us. I walked Sandy back to the Union from Murphy’s. The weather was excellent for an evening stroll and I got a few more minutes with Sandy.

Jer at Fort Hood

Ten minutes after walking Sandy back to the Union, getting a hug and saying goodbye, I finally got hold of my son. He had just signed into Fort Hood and ended up in the new (2nd) battalion in the Division’s Aviation Regiment.

They are packing their bags this Monday and they head back to Iraq in July. He hasn’t even been issued his gear and he’s supposed to sealing it up to be shipped off on Monday. He had just signed a lease a couple days before. Volunteering can get you in some seriously jacked up ….

I had a rough day or so after hearing this, but I’m putting it off to the side for now. July is not April.

I’m thinking I might head down there for a couple/several days in late May or June; whatever works best for him.

Update [Sat. eve]: They now leave the 2nd week of June. I will probably be heading down there.

Update [Sun. morning]: Narrower leave period than he originally thought; will be probably heading down there sometime between 22 May – 1 June once he knows how much leave he’ll have. He just got off a month’s so he may not have much left.

It’s times like this that make me smile that we even use the same words [serve/service] to describe what librarians do for their patrons/customers and what service members do for their nation.

I guess the main difference is in the kind and amount of sacrifices made.


Some unexpected positives; some not unexpected negatives (and positives). A massive [expected] negative. It’s my life.

Harris and Hjorland administrivia


At the start of break I found a treasure when I was down in the Basement West stacks looking for another “Harris book”: Harris. Roy. 1990. The Foundations of Linguistic Theory: Selected Writings of Roy Harris. Ed. Nigel Love. London: Routledge.

Actually, I found 2 treasures. The edited volume I had so far overlooked; I have yet to undertake a completist approach to Harris’ writings as he has written so many books, much less articles. I have been predominantly lusciously wallowing in his books. Anyway, the little volume edited by Love is quite good and I was able to purchase myself a good used copy for cheap.

The unlooked for treasure was: Harris, Roy. 1977. On the Possibility of Linguistic Change. Oxford [Eng.]: Clarendon Press.

A tad more accurately, it is: On the Possibility of Linguistic Change : An Inaugural lecture delivered before the University of Oxford on 18 November 1976 / by Roy Harris, Professor of the Romance Languages.

This is a lecture given by Harris when he was installed as the Chair of the Romance Languages at Oxford.

This 23 p. document was pam-bound on 1 May 1984. It has a call no. label attached and the call no. is written in it in the right place, but it had no barcode and had never made it into the electronic catalog. I had a monographics stacks pass with me so Circ gave it to me to catalog. Today I did just that on my 1st day back in a while. There was a record I just brought in and made sure it was OK and attached a holdings and item record.

Yes, I read it over lunch. It is typical Harris at his scathing best. I imagine one should feel free to speak rather bluntly about one’s discipline and department when being given the chair of a department at Oxford. ;))


Thought I’d mention that a lot of Hjørland stuff has been showing up in my dLIST feed the last couple days. [You are subscribed to dLIST and E-LIS aren’t you? Or at least those of you looking for things of interest to read.] Seven things with Hjørland as the primary or co-author have shown up in the last 2 days according to the Latest Additions listing.

A search on “hjorland, b” or “hjorland” returns 8 items.

There are some good things here, including his recent information research article [dLIST], some conference presentations (ISKO, ASIST, …), and this article (recommended) from KO.

I am assuming that more will be showing up.

Many Hjørland documents are (or were) available from his site at the Royal School of Library and Information Science. In my collecting of his corpus I have primarily gone to the original publication source. That way I precluded any issues with something being a pre- or post-print or whatever. Some I got electronically, e.g., all JASIS & JASIST articles, many I photocopied. Also be aware, the list linked to at the start of this paragraph probably includes a large percentage of his publications but there are a couple missing.

Some things read this week, 21 – 27 October 2007

Note: Not much read due to being at the ASIS&T Annual Meeting in Milwaukee until Wed. evening.

Wednesday, 24 Oct

Shepherd, Simon. “Concepts and architectures for next-generation information search engines.” International Journal of Information Management 27(1), Feb 2007: 3-8.

This is a short, but interesting article in a copy of a journal I picked up for free at ASIS&T. While the prototype has great sounding potential the article is a bit too upbeat for me, e.g., “…future search engines will be able to solve the problems of both synonymy and polysemy” (3, emphasis in original).

In his description of Google PageRank he states “… due to its ability to present Web pages in a rank order that puts the pages the user is most likely to want to see at the top of the list” (3, emphasis in original). So I should trust someone who cannot get this correct? Google most certainly does not put pages in an order that the user will most likely want to see first. It puts the pages in an order that a typical user may want to see first. These are two entirely different beasts altogether! One is a real flesh-and-blood user with a real query while the other is a statistical fiction with no means whatsoever of expressing, much less having, an information need.

The theoretical problems for small-scale examples have been solved and the basic mathematics is understood. It remains to implement the algorithms “in anger” on real databases (5).

So scalability is not an issue at all? Perhaps he ought to read Harel (see below).

We have achieved Latent Semantic Indexing which seeks to identify semantic links between documents even where such links are by no means obvious even to a human reader, …” (6).

I realize that the key word here is going to be “obvious,” but this statement makes absolutely no sense to me. I can parse it out in English well enough. I just find it completely meaningless unless one really waffles about their use of “by no means” and “obvious.” If a human cannot identify the semantic links then are they there? It is humans that construct meaning. Can a machine specify meanings between items when it cannot even recognize meaning in the first place?

Again, it looks interesting. I also have no doubt that it would be an improvement over Google. The idea of backlinks is intriguing also, although I have questions around what constitutes a “reference” to another document (it can also work on the local computer). But no algorithm can solve synonymy and/or polysemy! That is not how language works. Perhaps with a large enough text corpus these algorithms (if scalable?) can do an amazingly good job at addressing both of these issues. But solve them?

Thursday, 25 Oct

Harel, David. Computers Ltd.: What They Really Can’t Do. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

  • Ch. 3: Sometimes we can’t afford to do it [for LIS452]

Tonkin, Emma (2007) Signal and Noise: Social Construction and Representation. In Lussky, Joan, Eds. Proceedings 18th Workshop of the American Society for Information Science and Technology Special Interest Group in Classification Research, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. [Word doc available at DLIST]

Zelle, John M. Python Programming: An Introduction to Computer Science. Wilsonville, Or: Franklin, Beedle, 2004.

  • Ch. 13: Algorithm Design and Recursion

Friday, 26 Oct

Davis, Hayley and Talbot J. Taylor, eds. Redefining Linguistics. London: Routledge, 1990.

  • Ch. 1: Davis, Hayley G. Introduction.
  • Ch. 2: Harris, Roy. On Redefining Linguistics.

Danskin, Alan. “Tomorrow never knows”: the end of cataloguing? World Library and Information Congress: 72nd IFLA General Conference and Council, 20-24 August 2006, Seoul, Korea. [pdf] Found via Cataloging Futures. [Oops. Wrong link. Thanks, Chris!]

A much more positive view of changes needed in the cataloging arena. Lays out the current challenges to traditional cataloging and then answers the question whether cataloging is relevant in the short- to medium-term and in the long-term. Argues that cataloging is about establishing a context for each resource, despite the horrible failure of the OPAC to make use of this navigational potential.

While I agree, this is one of those areas where it is not so much the OPAC designers fault. Some portion of it is, of course, but more of the problem resides in our rules systems; AACR2, MARC21, etc. Have a look at Barbara Tillett’s work on bibliographic relationships and especially the following Vellucci article:

Velluci, Sherry L. “Bibliographic relationships.” In: Weihs, Jean, ed. The Principles and future of AACR: Proceedings of the International Conference on the Principles and Future Development of AACR, Toronto, Canada, Oct. 23-25, 1997: 105-146. [pdf available here, thanks to Irvin for the link]

I agree that this is an important argument to make but we are in such an awful situation to make it currently. I wonder to what extent this is being fixed in RDA. I’m not too hopeful really. Tillett’s relationships made it into the RDA to FRBR mapping and they say a mapping of RDA to FRAD is due.

But these sorts of relationships and mappings cannot be afterthoughts if they are to work as they should; they must be integral to the system from the beginning. Even if they are being added mid-way that is not the same. JSC documentation says that they considered FRBR from the beginning. Perhaps. But the main problem is that FRBR (as a complete E-R model) is not complete. Both FRBR and RDA is being done piecemeal. And we are to get a coherent system from that process?

Friday – Saturday, 26-27 Oct

Davis, Hayley and Talbot J. Taylor, eds. Redefining Linguistics. London: Routledge, 1990.

  • Ch. 3: Love, Nigel. The Locus of Languages in a Redefined Linguistics.

ASIS&T 2007 Annual Meeting Sessions, part 2

Monday, 22 Oct

Oops, I forgot the Alumni Reception in the evening. They had awesome food this year. Kudos!

Tuesday, 23 Oct

Poster Session III

Those of most interest to me:

Searching for Books and Images in OPAC: Effects of LCSH, TOC and Subject Domains. Youngok Choi, Ingrid Hsieh-Yee and Bill Kules (Catholic U of America)

Tagging and Findability: Do Tags Help Users Find Things? Margaret Kipp (U of Western Ontario)

Browsing with a Metadata Infrastructure for Events, Periods and Time. Ray R. Larson and Michael Buckland (UC-Berkeley)

I had a very nice conversation with Ingrid Hsieh-Yee and was able to thank her for her LC report generated as an action item from the previous “future of bib control” conference. See here for my initial comments on this report and a link to it. [If there had been wifi at the conference I could have looked this up and discussed some of these questions with the author.]

Larson and Buckland have presented on their project a couple times and it is a wonderful example of what can be done if we were to have vocabularies and authorities widely available.

Took a trip to Downtown Books for a fairly priced, used copy of the 2 v. set of John Lyons’ Semantics. I also picked up a copy of Borgmann’s Crossing the Postmodern Divide for a really good price. I’m pretty surprised that carrying those books around in the same bag for several hours didn’t result in a rift in the fabric of space-time. Hat tip to Tom for alerting me to Lyons availability in Downtown Books.

Social Computing, Folksonomies and Image Tagging: Reports from the Research Front. Samantha Hastings (moderator), Hemalata Iyer (SUNY-Albany), Diane Neal (NCCU), Abebe Rorissa (SUNY-Albany), and JungWon Yoon (USF).


  • User supplied image category labels. Thinks prototype theory is applicable to tagging.
  • In social tagging group labels tend to be superordinate. Individual labels = more Related Terms/non-hierarchical associative terms.
  • Not much structure; is structure desirable?
  • Influence of the 1st tagger is great – thus initial tags by author or professional. [Excuse me? Why the desire for control?]
  • Further exploration of prototypes and basic level needed in tag research.

Neal – PhotojournalsmAndUADs geotagged:ASSSIST2007MilwaueWI topresent [title; misspellings on purpose]


  • There is no single model, nor any single method.
  • Change Ranganathan’s 2nd law to “Every user his or her overview of the document collection.”

Yoon – Semantics of User-Supplied Tags

Awards Lunch – sat with Christina

Tagging and Social Networks: The Impact of Communities on User-Centered Tagging. Heather D. Pfeiffer (NMSU), Edward M. Corrado (College of NJ), Margaret Kipp (Long Island U/UWO), Qiping Zhang (Long Island U), Heather Moulaisen (??) and Emma Tonkin (U of Bath).

Corrado – Social Tagging: Community Tagging or Personal Tagging in Communities? Tried to answer the question, “Are people really tagging socially?” by looking at the code4lib community.

Kipp – Patterns in Tagging: Collaborative Classification Practices in Social Bookmarking Tools. Looked at del.icio.us, Connotea and CiteULike.

Zhang – Social Tagging in China (co-researcher is Zhenzhong Sheng). Is looking at cross-cultural patterns in tagging in the long-run. This work reported on their attempt to answer what tagging is and how it is viewed in China.

Moulaisen – Social Tagging in France: The Evolution of a Phenomenon. Looked at the Tecktonic killer (dance) phenomenon among some French youth on YouTube and how tagging is used in that context.

Tonkin – Community in User-Centred Tagging.

  • Characteristics of tags depend on: interface, use case, user population, user intent/motivation for tagging.
  • Assertion: tags = ‘language-in-use.’ Informal, transient, intended for a limited audience, implicit
  • What’s in a tag? Marshall’s dimensions of annotation. [The Future of Annotation in a Digital (Paper) World, Catherine C. Marshall]
  • Participatory mechanisms in language development
  • Speech/discourse community
  • The ‘C’ words: Context, Community, Confusion … ?
  • Caution: seeing named social entities in a dataset may reflect preconceptions…

This was a very coherent panel. More folks who should be well funded if we want any answers.

Dinner with a large group of students from assorted places at the Water Street Brewery.

SIGCON. Quite a different attitude than last year regarding tagging. This year it was sanctioned and even the tools were provided and yet I saw very little of it happening. Last year a small handful of us illicitly made it happen. And call me bitter, if you will, but a little bit of props for SIGTAG would have been in line, not to mention intellectually honest.

I know I’m about the only one who doesn’t find LOLCats humorous. But that was not funny at all.

And what is it about IS/librarian-types that they have to pick on others in their humor? Is it because we feel so powerless ourselves? Sorry but I do not find it funny for librarians to diss paraprofessionals. In fact, it is unprofessional. Last year it was picking on the disabled.

Can I just say that I enjoyed myself far, far more last year. No disrespect meant to my friends that I sat with this year, but last year my posse was all new to me and we were actively involved.

Wednesday, 24 Oct

SIG HFIS (History and Foundations of IS) breakfast meeting. Breakfast and conversation with Marcia Bates, Michael Buckland, Toni Carbo, Trudi Hahn, Thomas Haigh, Barbara Kwasnik, Kathryn La Barre, Julian Warner, Cheryl Knott Malone, Howard White and Margie Avery. Business meeting after breakfast.

Plenary, Clifford Lynch. For a recap suggested by Dorothea see this one at RSS4Lib.

Lunch at The King and I with Christina Pikas, Jack Vinson and Jordan Frank.

Headed home after lunch. Without driving through Chicago during rush hour on a Friday night it was a 4.5 hour trip.

For me, ASIS&T is all about the people. Seeing and talking with the luminaries, seeing “old” friends and making new ones. And finding oneself surprised by what one finds interesting that could not have been predicted; such as, Megan Winget’s score annotations work. “That so rawked!” as my buddy jennimi might say.

You were missed deeply and by many, my dear friend. I hope you caught some of the healing love sent your way.

And, Ben, we talked about you too, boy. Missed, indeed, you were.