Books Read in 2007

Late last year I decided to participate in a reading challenge (2007 TBR) that I found at Joy Weese Moll’s blog, Wanderings of an online librarian. I generally don’t do these sorts of things but when I had looked back over 2006 at the hundreds of article I had read I found that I had read something like 13 books. My post linked above lists the books that I chose as possibilities. Maybe I didn’t follow the rules exactly (Yay me!) and I don’t care as I read more than 3x as many books as I did last year; although I also read far fewer articles.

So how did I do? Of my “(probable) definites” I read 3 and most of a 4th, and of my “possibilities” I read half of 1. Perhaps not so good, all in all. But I do not care. I read far more books and I found new interests. And all of the books that I did not get to are still on my to be read list.

The numbers seem to come out at 33 books read, 3 of those read a 2nd time, and 9 books and one online proceedings mostly read.

I’m thinking that I won’t undertake any such challenge for 2008 as I will be focusing on my CAS paper for the first 4+ months of the year. Towards that endeavor I will be re-reading some of the books from this year. I will certainly try to keep track of what I read next year, but I see no reason to set myself a goal that only causes me frustration and guilt.

In late January of 2007 I wrote a post that listed some of the things I had read that weekend, “Things read this weekend.” With that post a habit was about to be born. I know that some of you would rather I didn’t write these “Some things read …” posts, but I have gotten enough positive comments and discussion generated from them that I will probably continue for a while.

The 1st full “Some things read this week …” post came for the week 29 Jan – 3 Feb where I discussed the possibility of continuing the practice while knowing that some things of merit would get missed.

It was quite a year of reading.

Books read in 2007

Dates are the dates I read the book.

very late Dec 06 – 7 Jan 07
The Art of Living : the Classic Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness / by Epictetus (1995), 1st ed. [WorldCat]

Ambient Findability / by Peter Morville. [WorldCat]

14-19 Jan 2007
Humanism and Democratic Criticism / Edward W. Said [WorldCat]

10-12 Feb 2007
Declamation on the Nobility and Preeminence of the Female Sex / Henricus Cornelius Agrippa ; translated and edited with an introduction by Albert Rabil, Jr. [WorldCat]

12-16 Feb 2007
Silas Marner : the Weaver of Raveloe / by George Eliot, David Carroll and Q. D. Leavis. [WorldCat]

17 Feb 2007
Life of Pi : a novel / Yann Martel. [WorldCat]

  • Yes. I read this one in one day. I did enjoy this although the epilogue (or whatever that thing at the end was supposed to be) really put a massive damper on the story and the “feel” of the story.

Jan – 15 Feb 2007
The Archaeology of Knowledge ; And, The Discourse on Language / by Michel Foucault. [WorldCat]
Discourse – read 14-15 Mar

  • The Discourse was much better than Archaeology, which was a real slog.

mid-Jan – 17 Feb 2007
Relationships in the Organization of Knowledge / edited by Carol A. Bean and Rebecca Green. [WorldCat]

This book was highly productive for, and influential on, me. Highly recommended!

18 Feb 2007
It’s Not Easy Being Green And Other Things to Consider / Jim Henson, the Muppets, and friends ; with drawings by Jim Henson ; edited by Cheryl Henson [WorldCat]

8 Mar – 20 Dec
Break, Blow, Burn / Camille Paglia. [WorldCat]

This book was as hard to slog through as Raber’s The Problem of Information. At least with that book I knew that there was a point. Oh. That sounds wrong. I don’t mean a point in a rational sense. Not sure how to say it.

I read a great review of this book a couple years back and knowing I needed to broaden my extremely limited exposure to poetry I added it to my wishlist. My daughter gave it to me as a present and I finally got to reading it earlier this year.

I think I would have enjoyed it much better if I had just read the poems and ignored all of Paglia’s commentary. Sometimes she had something enlightening to say but often as not she was also condescending to the reader. My main issue with her commentary is that she has serious issues with sex and God. I was amazed yesterday when a poem finally cropped up in which she had nothing to say about God, sex, or even God and sex. I could be wrong but I believe it to be the only one out of 43 to have the honor of not being defiled by often forced references to either. That poem is May Swenson’s ‘At East River.”

Am I now more attuned to poetry than I was before reading this book? Unfortunately, I don’t think so. I am willing to try again, though. As long as Paglia isn’t involved!

18 – 20 Apr
Atheism : a Very Short Introduction / Julian Baggini. [WorldCat]

18-22 May
The Language Machine / by Roy Harris. [WorldCat]

23-25 May
Balanced Libraries : Thoughts on Continuity and Change / Walt Crawford. [WorldCat]

26-30 May
The Language-Makers / Roy Harris. [Re-read 28 Oct – 10 Nov] [WorldCat]

2-4 Jul
The Successful Academic Librarian : Winning Strategies from Library Leaders / edited by Gwen Meyer Gregory. (most of it anyway) [WorldCat]

4 – 7 Jul
The Semantics of Science / by Roy Harris. [WorldCat]

7 – 12 Jul
The Language Myth / by Roy Harris. [WorldCat]

14 Jul – 15 Dec
Peace is Every Step : the Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life / by Nhat Hanh, Thich [WorldCat]

16 – 19 Jul
First Have Something to Say : Writing for the Library Profession / Walt Crawford. [WorldCat]

? 22 Jul – 25 Aug
The Problem of Information: An Introduction to Information Science / by Douglas Raber. [WorldCat]

Despite my many (and valid) complaints about this book, it was a very productive book for me. If one looks closely at my “Some things read …” posts while and after I read this book you will see a multitude of sources cited by Raber. There are still some I acquired and haven’t read and many more I “need” to acquire.

I really, really wish it was edited better. The topic is so very important. It deserves an excellent book and not one that the reader has to slog through thanks to poor editing and a style that could use a bit of tweaking so that the reader knows which arguments are the author’s and those of others’ which he is presenting for consideration.

19 Aug – 30 Aug
Library Juice Concentrate / edited by Rory Litwin — mostly [WorldCat]

23 Aug – 7 Sep
Definition in Theory and Practice : Language, Lexicography and the Law / Roy Harris and Christopher Hutton. [WorldCat]

9-16 Sep
Introduction to Integrational Linguistics / by Roy Harris. [WorldCat]

17-21 Sep
The Language Connection : Philosophy and Linguistics / by Roy Harris [Re-read 10-20 Nov] [WorldCat]

21 Sep – 19 Dec
Integrational Linguistics: a First Reader / Edited by Roy Harris and George Wolf. [WorldCat]

Contains many highly interesting chapters. Divided into 6 parts: Language and Communication, Language and the Language Myth, Language and Meaning, Language and Discourse, Language and Writing, and Language and Society.

23-28 Sep
Synonymy and Linguistic Analysis / Roy Harris. [WorldCat]

28 Sep – 5 Oct
Words : an Integrational Approach / Hayley G. Davis. [WorldCat]

13-19 Oct
The Interface Between the Written and the Oral / Jack Goody. [WorldCat]

26-28 Oct
Redefining Linguistics / Edited by Hayley G. Davis and Talbot J. Taylor. [WorldCat]

28 Oct – 10 Nov
Harris, The Language Makers [Re-read, see 26-30 May]

5 – 12 nov
Introduction to Integrational Linguistics / Roy Harris. [Re-read. See 17-21 Sep]

10 – 20 Nov
The Language Connection : Philosophy and Linguistics / by Roy Harris [Re-read]

15 – 28 Nov
Crossing the Postmodern Divide / Albert Borgmann [WorldCat]

This book has done a lot to change my views on postmodernism. I still do not like the word at all, but this book contains some good ideas on how to overcome the postmodern condition, how to move forward positively as a society as we recover from the failures of the modern project.

20 – 24 Nov
Language, Saussure and Wittgenstein : How to Play Games with Words / Roy Harris. [WorldCat]

Despite the differences between Saussure’s and Wittgenstein’s later thoughts on language they are remarkably similar. In this book, Harris explicates the games analogy that both used.

24 – 27 Nov
Understanding Computers and Cognition : a New Foundation for Design / Terry Winograd, Fernando Flores. [WorldCat]

A very interesting book that is frequently recommended by Hjørland in his writings.

9 – 13 Dec
The Foundations of Linguistic Theory : Selected Writings of Roy Harris / Edited by Nigel Love. [WorldCat]

I had read a few of these pieces before as a couple are excerpts from other things, but many of them were new. All in all, I found this to be an excellent volume and overview of Harris’ thought.


18 Feb – [mid May] present
Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things : What Categories Reveal about the Mind / George Lakoff. – not finished [WorldCat]

about 2/3rds of the way through it, but no progress since mid-May

19 Mar – 7 May
The Semantics of Relationships : an Interdisciplinary Perspective / edited by Rebecca Green, Carol A. Bean, Sung Hyon Myaeng. – not finished [WorldCat]

2/3rds through; read all of Part I and III, III left.

5 – ? Jun (most of this proceedings, online)
NASKO 2007

Re-read several chapters (about half) of Svenonius early in the year.

24 – 25 Feb
The Power to Name: Locating the Limits of Subject Representation in Libraries / Hope Olsen. [WorldCat]

I had to give this up because the methodology is reprehensible. I have long had a draft post on this book and several of Olsen’s articles waiting to be finished but more important issues are and have been attracting my attention.

McIlwaine, I. C., ed. Subject retrieval in a networked environment : Proceedings of the IFLA Satellite Meeting held in Dublin, OH 14-16 August 2001 and sponsored by the IFLA Classification and Indexing Section, the IFLA Information Technology Section and OCLC. München: K. G. Saur. 122-128. [WorldCat]

Much of it.

23 Aug – 26 Oct
Python Programming : an Introduction to Computer Science / John M. Zelle. [WorldCat]

Read 12 out of 13 chapters in this book.

Fall semester
Computers Ltd. : What Computers Still Can’t Do / David Harel. [WorldCat]

Read almost 2/3rds of this.

27 Sep, 13 – 20 Nov
Information Seeking and Subject Representation : An Activity-Theoretical Approach to Information Science / Hjørland, Birger.

Halfway through it; need to get back to it soon.

13 – 29 Dec
Toolan, Michael J. 1996. Total Speech: An Integrational Linguistic Approach to Language. Durham, N.C: Duke University Press.

Halfway through it; my currently most active book.

Author-Date Bibliography [COinS data]

Agrippa von Nettesheim, Heinrich Cornelius, and Albert Rabil. 1996. Declamation on the Nobility and Preeminence of the Female Sex. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Baggini, Julian. 2003. Atheism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bean, Carol A., and Rebecca Green, eds. 2001. Relationships in the Organization of Knowledge. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Borgmann, Albert. 1992. Crossing the Postmodern Divide. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Crawford, Walt. 2003. First Have Something to Say: Writing for the Library Profession. Chicago: American Library Association.

———. 2007. Balanced Libraries: Thoughts on Continuity and Change. Morrisville, NC: Lulu.

Davis, Hayley G. 2001. Words: An Integrational Approach. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon.

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

Eliot, George, and David Carroll. 2003. Silas Marner : the Weaver of Raveloe. London; New York: Penguin Books.

Epictetus., and Sharon Lebell. 1995. The Art of Living : the Classic Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness. [San Francisco]: HarperSanFrancisco.

Foucault, Michel, and Michel Foucault. 1972. The Archaeology of Knowledge ; and, The Discourse on Language. New York: Pantheon Books.

Goody, Jack. 1987. The Interface Between the Written and the Oral. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Green, Rebecca, Carol A Bean, and Sung Hyon Myaeng, eds. 2002. The Semantics of Relationships: An Interdisciplinary Perspective. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Gregory, Gwen Meyer, ed. 2005. The Successful Academic Librarian: Winning Strategies from Library Leaders. Medford, N.J: Information Today, Inc.

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

Harris, Roy. 1973. Synonymy and Linguistic Analysis. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

———. 1980. The Language-Makers. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

———. 1981. The Language Myth. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

———. 1987. The Language Machine. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press.

———. 1988. Language, Saussure and Wittgenstein: How to Play Games with Words. London: Routledge.

———. 1990. The Foundations of Linguistic Theory: Selected Writings of Roy Harris. Ed. Nigel Love. London: Routledge.

———. 1996. The Language Connection: Philosophy and Linguistics. Bristol, U.K: Thoemmes Press.

———. 1998. Introduction to Integrational Linguistics. Kidlington, Oxford, UK: Pergamon.

———. 2005. The Semantics of Science. London: Continuum.

Harris, Roy, and Christopher Hutton. 2007. Definition in Theory and Practice: Language, Lexicography and the Law. London: Continuum.

Harris, Roy, and George Wolf, eds. 1998. Integrational Linguistics: A First Reader. Kidlington, Oxford, UK: Pergamon.

Henson, Jim. 2005. It’s Not Easy Being Green: And Other Things to Consider. New York: Hyperion.

Hjørland, Birger. 1997. Information Seeking and Subject Representation: An Activity-Theoretical Approach to Information Science. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press.

Lakoff, George. 1987. Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About the Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Litwin, Rory, ed. 2006. Library Juice Concentrate. Duluth, Minn: Library Juice Press.

Martel, Yann. 2001. Life of Pi: A Novel. New York: Harcourt.

McIlwaine, Ia, ed. 2003. Subject Retrieval in a Networked Environment: Proceedings of the IFLA Satellite Meeting Held in Dublin, OH, 14-16 August 2001 and Sponsored by the IFLA Classification and Indexing Section, the IFLA Information Technology Section and OCLC. München: K.G. Saur.

Morville, Peter. 2005. Ambient Findability. Sebastopol, Calif: O’Reilly.

Nhat Hanh, Thich. 1991. Peace is Every Step : the Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life. New York N.Y.: Bantam Books.

Olson, Hope A. 2002. The Power to Name: Locating the Limits of Subject Representation in Libraries. Dordrecht [The Netherlands]: Kluwer Academic.

Paglia, Camille. 2006. Break, Blow, Burn. New York: Vintage Books.

Raber, Douglas. 2003. The Problem of Information: An Introduction to Information Science. Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press.

Said, Edward W. 2004. Humanism and Democratic Criticism. New York: Columbia University Press.

Svenonius, Elaine. 2000. The Intellectual Foundation of Information Organization. Ed. W.Y. Arms. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Toolan, Michael J. 1996. Total Speech: An Integrational Linguistic Approach to Language. Durham, N.C: Duke University Press.

Winograd, Terry, and Fernando Flores. 1987. Understanding Computers and Cognition: A New Foundation for Design. Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley.

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

NASKO 2007 – Day 2, part 2

Plenary: Issues in Knowledge Organization Research: An Interactive Panel Discussion. Joe Tennis, moderator.

Tennis’ intro:

Do we all come with the same purpose?

Dow we all come with the same conceptualization of the problem space?

  • James Turner, Professor, University of Montreal.
  • Clare Beghtol, Professor, University of Toronto.
  • Jens-Erik Mai, Professor and Vice Dean, University of Toronto.

James Turner

Initial comments were on papers presented on the 1st day.

Pimentel: Conversations. Right way to do it?

Zhang: Breaking down to component parts of resource/granularity.

Campbell: “World seems hostile to rigor and good practice.” “The Web is not one thing/community, especially Web 2.0 and the Semantic Web.” [paraphrases of Campbell]

Feinberg: “Browsing different than searching, but same goal.” Personal KO schemes; get at them via ethnomethodological methods (interviews, …).

Kasten: reactive -> centralized; proactive -> decentralized, hmmm?

Lots of nostalgia re vertical files; might mean something

  • browsing
  • personal KO

Clare Beghtol

Purpose(s) of KO

“Classification is a cognitive imperative.”

  • “Language is classification.”
  • “What behavior is not classification?”

“We have not kept control of structure; now we worry that the structure conveys little meaning.”

Assumption ethics. [I think this is what she said; didn’t get the references (down)].

Jens-Erik Mai

“What is KO (in this day)?”

Computer science doesn’t know what we know; from comment by James Turner in his intro, BUT

“do we know what we know?”

Universe of knowledge: The organization of this has been our goal for past 130 years. Now we know there are lots of ways to do it and that there is no one way.

Realization that users are important.

“KO used to be about system (“the one system”), what should we teach now?”

“What is common to us and our new organization?”

Clearly, James Turner set the stage by recapping the symposium so far. Clare Beghtol added valuable commentary and provided some theoretical reminders/possibilities. Jens-Erik asked a lot of questions and added a bit of commentary to get the audience primed to contribute to the conversation which was a good half of the plenary. Very nice method.

Discussion portion of Plenary

[Comments will be attributed where I can; did not know who some people were and most did not introduce themselves before speaking. “**” – will mean the commentor is unknown. Also, unsure anymore what is paraphrase and what is a direct quote, and even then there is much context missing so be wary in drawing any inferences from these very disembodied and decontextualized snippets of conversation.]:

Barbara Kwasnik – principled guidelines for construction/designing an organization ….

Richard Smiraglia – gave examples of ed of KO as to “do we know what we know?” [Wish I had gotten an example or 2 down!]

** – vertical files.

Rebecca Green – how often are different classifications compatible? Is our biggest issue mapping from one persons classification to another?

Joe Tennis – there are lots of bad ways, wonder if there are any good ways? Maybe so at the local levels, not so much more globally.

** – attempt to close knowledge off to people — rights, censorship, IP, … — do these issues belong to the field and the new organization?

** – examples of, “Yes, these are (or should be) important issues to us.” [Again, wish I had recorded these.]

D. Grant Campbell – we have plenty of diverse user studies. We need to synthesize these for useful patterns/meta-analysis.

DGC – granularity is a Pandora’s Box; maybe we need to open it though. Maybe the semantic relationships folks (Beghtol, Green, …) can help. [Dr. Green’s presentation, which hadn’t happened yet, is a step toward granularity and coherence in the content vs. carrier issue(s).]

Barbara Kwasnik – natural language processing as a 1st disambiguation.

Jens-Erik Mai – user studies – we don’t know what we need to know about users, despite these studies. [Amen to this! We know some but, honestly, besides not knowing what we know (Grant’s assertion) we also do not know what we do need to know about users.]

JEM – what happens when universities/scholarship take back peer reviewing and “we” publish digitally (without publishers)? What does this mean for classification? [Very important questions to consider as we redefine (or define for the 1st time) what it is that we need to know.]

** – from an IR perspective

evaluation needs to shift from system/KO scheme to “does it get the job done?”

is it about subject contents (knowledge) or objects?

DGC – over-reliance on hierarchy; need other visualizations.

I really think that this could have gone on for a lot longer and I wish it had been possible to do so. But I imagine most everyone else feels this way, too. These kinds of discussions are so important and, yet, so rare.

Closing Session: Knowledge Organization in North America, Kathryn La Barre

Kathryn provided a synopsis of the symposium. Photos of Kathryn’s slides begin here.

This is another presentation from which I have few notes as I was trying to be more present than I might be normally, which is why I have all of her slides. A quick snap and focus on the spoken content.

The slide, “Charge” provides a good recap of many of the key questions/research agenda to have arisen during the day and a half of this (hopefully historic) Symposium.

The ideas on that slide define a large portion of my life right now and for the foreseeable future. One of the previous slides, “terms/concepts/topics,” does also but in a more atomic sense. Even the title of the slide carries so much meaning to me. Are these terms and ideas that you conflate? We can’t even begin to talk about each of those words as terms, concepts, or topics without, at least, jumping into a deep ditch. It may not be a bottomless chasm but it gets very deep, very quickly.

Once again, thanks to all involved, in particular those who had the vision and brought it to fruition. Here’s to more wonderful ideas hatched amongst colleagues over drinks!

I hope to be involved with the (almost) newly formed ISKO-NA. I also hope to be able to attend ISKO in Montreal next year.

Have I mentioned how much I love these little intimate, relaxed conferences/conversations?

NASKO 2007 – Day 2

Conference photos here. More touristy photos here [includes some conference attendees]. Everyone’s photos here [which means jennimi and me.]

Rebecca Green has a much better synopsis than I will produce at 025.431: The Dewy Blog.

Plenary: Issues in Knowledge Organization Research: An Interactive Panel Discussion. Joe Tennis, moderator.

  • James Turner, Professor, University of Montreal.
  • Clare Beghtol, Professor, University of Toronto.
  • Jens-Erik Mai, Professor and Vice Dean, University of Toronto.

comments from panel and audience will be in Day 2, part 2 post.

Contributed Papers Session 3:

An Irrational Truth, Or the Marginalization of People Through Classification in Natural Disaster Settings. [Note: Paper title is different from presentation title.] Randall Kemp, University of Washington.

This was quite an interesting paper. The big issue here, though, is that there are so many classifications going on in a natural disaster situation. There is the immediate triage of various [multiple kinds of] caregivers and emergency responders. There is the preplanning classification[s] built into the disaster plans of the incident commanders. There are the classifications needed to communicate with the media. There are the classifications needed by policy makers. Some of these are immediate, some are long-term, some are flexible and changeable, some are fixed. And this only begins to scratch the surface. The question quickly becomes, “How do we find the people in all of these classifications?” Despite all the complicated issues, this is important work.

The Economic and Aesthetic Axis of Information Organization Frameworks [extended abstract]. Joseph T. Tennis, University of British Columbia.

Information Organization Frameworks (IOFs) “are made up of a distinct structure, work practice, and arise from a discourse.”

I think Joe is on to something here, but this economic axis is an oversimplification.

Tagging for Health Information Organisation and Retrieval. Margaret Kipp, University of Western Ontario.

For those interested in tagging, and in particular the intersection of tagging and traditional classification, Margaret Kipp’s work is worth watching. Go find her earlier stuff and keep an eye out for her future work. I believe Louise Spiteri is one of the few others working in this space.


Contributed Papers Session 4:

Faceted Navigation and Browsing Features in New OPACs: A More Robust Solution to Problems of Information Seekers? [extended abstract] Kathryn La Barre, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

I’m really hoping that Kathryn’s research agenda can be funded. We really need to know whether these types of systems are actually effective or whether they just appeal to our beliefs.

Study on the Influence of Vocabularies used for Image Indexing in a Multilingual Retrieval Environment. Elaine Ménard, Université de Montréal.

While image retrieval is not my area, I found this fascinating [even though still in its early stages] based on my readings in the area of multilingual thesauri.

Coffee break

Contributed Papers Session 5:

In the Margins: Reflections on Scribbles, Knowledge Organization, and Access [extended abstract]. June Abbas, SUNY Buffalo.

June rocks! She has a tablet PC so was able to scribble on her own presentation.

She cites Wilson (1968) reminding us that “What a text says is not necessarily what it reveals or what it allows us to conclude … but what is not said may interest us more than what is said” (p. 18). Alert readers of this blog ought to have learned this lesson by now. 😉

She asks whether “reasons and uses of annotation in the print environment [can] also be extended to the digital tagging practice as well?”

Where do we go from here?” “What we need to consider now is how we can use these sources to adapt, augment, revitalize our knowledge organization structures.”

Motivations? Personal findability or organization; communal or familial sharing; meaning making; performative act?

Did I mention that June rocks?

Performance Works: Continuing to Comprehend Instantiation. Richard P. Smiraglia, Long Island University.

Anticipating New Media: A Faceted Classification of Material Types. Rebecca Green, OCLC Dewey Decimal Classification (and Nancy Fallgren, University of Maryland).

While perhaps not the sexiest of topics, it is extremely important and far more complex than our general, in practice, orientation of a simple dichotomy of content vs. carrier, which itself is often highly confused. This is productive clarification of many of the involved issues, and I am really glad to see it for many reasons. Not the least of which is Hjørland’s comment regarding the need to record and qualitatively discuss our disagreements in the literature so that we may truly learn.

Content vs. carrier, or content and carrier, or perhaps content and carrier and what else? Content, infixion, and carrier per T. Delsey (see Delsey cites in her paper). When and in what ways does one facet limit or impose constraints on the other? They are interdependent (see L. Howarth 1997 cite in her paper).

The FRBR Expression entity: “Another development of the content vs. carrier issue questions whether there may be the need for intermediate bibliographic categories between pure intellectual or artistic content and pure physicality” (88). The FRBR Expression entity bothers her because it is being used to mean lots of different things: two editions of a work, two translations of a work (in the same or different languages), different interpretations of an artistic performance, printed text vs. audio recording of text being read (or performed) (88).

I fully agree with her here. IFLA FRBR folks did some wonderful work in their documentation. They also blew a few things, some of which are because they wanted to keep it simple, some perhaps because they were too close to the issues and document, while others may have been due to a compromise … or a mixture. The Expression entity is one such failure. Manifestation and that unfortunate line drawn between Manifestation and Expression level which supposedly shows the line between the intellectual and the physical. That diagram in, and of, itself is a disaster, imnsho. I think the committee knew what they meant, kept the documentation simple (which I agree can be a benefit usually) and thus blew it.

Both Manifestation and Expression are complex creatures. Neither is (only) what they purport to be; they are both so much more than that. And this is not a good thing. Manifestation is a purely conceptual entity that is composed of one or more physical items. Its component parts (if more than a singular instance) may never be all together in one physical space-time grouping.

Another reason the “line of demarcation” was unfortunate on that diagram that has now been replicated ad nauseum with a subsequent loss of the little nuance in the text is that the physicality of a Manifestation is a vastly different kind of physicality of an Item. But it is not a difference than can easily be explicated in a sentence or two.

Another issue with the physicality line and much along the lines of Dr. Green’s issue here is that, although non-physically instantiated Expressions are logically possible, they are generally not the sort of entity that libraries are in the habit of worrying about. Libraries do the recorded information and knowledge of humankind. Thus, almost every Expression has some form of physicality. And generally this physicality is of the sort in which we now have a conceptual and physical Manifestation and an Item. Electronic-based media is adding some twists to the mix, to be sure, but they can be accommodated if Dr. Green’s initial attempt at explicating these issues is furthered.

By the way, all of that from “I fully agree with her. …” was all me.

Dr. Green showed 4 ways in which DDC attempts to show content and carrier distinctions. She said that perhaps we’ll see some payoff from her work soon in the schedules. I am unsure of how I feel about the DDC, specifically, and classification structures like it, for many and complex reasons, but I am glad that Dr. Green is working on it.

I want to recant my opening line a bit to, “While I know some of you won’t find this a sexy topic, it should be considered far sexier than it is.” This is a complex and old topic, with plenty of hard practical and philosophical problems. I have the feeling that this is a prime bit of description that would be well served by faceting. But we need to do a good job conceptually, experiment, refine, implement, test and provide feedback in the literature.

Closing Session: Knowledge Organization in North America, Kathryn La Barre (synopsis of the symposium). The “charge.”

I will try to add some notes on this on the Day 2, part 2 post. Or not. See Rebecca Green for a good summary.

I apologize to all those authors/presenters whose papers I did not get to comment on. This is way “behind schedule” and I’ve just decided to start a 3rd post to finish this out. Unfortunately, I now have more pressing things than conference reporting. Of course, I think of this as far more than conference reporting. Which is why I didn’t say I have things of more importance; that would be so far from the truth.

Thanks again to all who made this symposium possible! It was an amazing time and experience.

Some things read this week, 17 – 23 June 2007

Monday, 18 June

Hjørland, Birger. “Semantics and Knowledge Organization.” ARIST 41 (2007): 367-405.

Cited by Zhang, J. (2007). Ontology and the Semantic Web. Proceedings of the North American Symposium on Knowledge Organization. Vol. 1. Available:

As much as I need to summarize this for myself I have run out of time, so:

The aim of this chapter is to demonstrate that semantic issues underlie all research questions within Library and Information Science (LIS, or, as hereafter, IS) and, in particular, the subfield known as Knowledge Organization (KO). Further, it seeks to show that semantics is a field influenced by conflicting views and discusses why it is important to argue for the most fruitful one of these. Moreover, the chapter demonstrates that IS has not yet addressed semantic problems in systematic fashion and examines why the field is very fragmented and without a proper theoretical basis. The focus here is on broad interdisciplinary issues and the long-term perspective (from intro, 367).

It is fairly reassuring to know that I have read about half of the sources he cites as “addressing semantic issues in KO and IS” on p. 370.

It is less reassuring, on one hand, to have this and particularly the other Hjørland article below reinforce my belief that Information Science is not a science. On the other, it is nice to know that someone with far more stature in the field feels the same way. [By the way, I also do not believe that most of modern experimental physics is science, but for different reasons. These views are when I am using “science” in a narrow sense.]

Houston, Ronald D. and Glynn Harmon. “Vannevar Bush and Memex.” ARIST 41 (2007): 55-92.

Stumbled over when copying the previous article above.

Actually quite good. I was really quite torn with myself as I was copying this, but I knew I ought to make the effort to learn a bit more.

Karen, I highly commend it to you. Also commended to others but Karen has been the one here making me think deeper about my views on Bush and AWMT.

This review examines the history, historiography, influences, and apparent misunderstandings surrounding Vannevar Bush’s memex concept and discusses the the manner in which the literatures of information science and other areas have cited the memex and its central idea of knowledge management (KM) by associative trails. The review also challenges the central memex premise that the mind works exclusively through associative thinking by reviewing some competing psychological movements and theories that emerged before and after Bush framed the memex concept (1st paragraph of intro, 55).

The article focuses on Bush’s distinction of personal KM and shared KM in the memex as a primary contribution. It also takes pains to point out Bush’s subsequent downplaying of the technological side and his emphasis on associative trails/thinking.

To provide a short[er] overview I will list the section headings: Introduction; Bush on the Memex; Challenges to Bush’s Associative Thinking Premise; Interpretations of the Memex Legacy; Some Early Reactions to the Memex; Positive Reactions to the Memex: The 1960s and 1970s; The Memex Inspires: 1962 Onward; Apparent Misinterpretations: 1965 Onward; The Memex in ARIST, 1966-2005; The Hand of Mammon: 1985 Onward; Vannevar Bush Reanimated; Memex Influence on Shared KM and the World Wide Web, 1993; The Influence of Memex on Literary Theory; Some Recent Influence of AWMT on Marketing Thought; Memex in the Library; Influence of Memex on Education; Summary and Conclusions; and Epilogue.

Some of my favorite quotes from the article:

“The memex concept and its underlying assumption that the mind works only or essentially through associative reasoning have had a broad, enduring impact throughout information science” (55). Can you say, “Understated?”

“On one hand, associationism has proved to be enormously successful in explaining many thought processes and in providing a basis for hyperlinking and Web technologies; as a consequence, the current task is often seen to consist in building on that associationist infrastructure. On the other hand, some observers have argued that new technologies and approaches are needed to compensate for the shortcomings of Web associationism” (60).

“The memex’s legacy also rests in part on the subsequent conflation of its analog ideas with their digital realizations some decades later” (emphasis in original, 61). I’ll leave it to you to read the article and find out Bush’s views on digital computers, but this is a key point.

“In other words, Bush appears to have served as something of a godparent to the godparents of Berners-Lee, the father of the Web” (68). Please notice the relationship here; it is neither direct nor lineally descendant.

“As documented in the pages of ARIST, then, authors writing about some 25 information science topical areas have acknowledged the memex. In some cases this was simply paying homage to Bush’s notion of the memex, largely as a matter of scholarly ritualism” (72). Oh, yes, because scholarly ritualism lends serious credence and authority to an argument. Michael Gorman, please come smack me down for having the audacity to doubt that scholarly ritualism serves any real intellectual work in the transmission of ideas and knowledge.

“First, we can safely say that the legacies of Bush and his memex endure and remain positive despite their 60-year journey over rocky roads. Although controversies may continue about whether Bush’s concepts or technologies were original, or about his true place in history, his AWMT article retains its inspirational magic” (81). While inspiration is a mighty fine and important thing, magic has no place in IS as a discipline; notice the second letter in that acronym. The art and science of information science need to work together to provide the illusion of magic and wonder for the user, when possible. And while we are users of our own systems and need to be inspired, those of us working in this area have already “peeked behind the curtain” and need to finally fully step behind it. Magic has little place back here.

“Second, although some textbooks since 1995 have tended to credit AWMT as a key root or origin of information science, personal computers, the Internet, the Web, and hypertext, that position distorts the historical record” (81). Amen! Read the article to get more perspective on this.

“Breakthoughs often consist of new syntheses or Gestalten that are more than the sum of their parts: The memex qualifies as such a breakthough” (82). Read the article to find out why I scribbled “kind of humorous, considering …” in the margin.

“Sixth, as argued earlier, authors who cite Bush, AWMT, or the memex need to do so less ritualistically, more critically, and for substantive reasons” (83).

I highly recommend this article; in particular, to LIS students or to anyone who thinks they need to drop a Bush citation in something. I am glad I took the time to read it and have no doubt that I will revisit it at some point.

And while my views on Bush and the memex are quite a bit more nuanced now than prior to reading this, I will still make fun of you if you simply add a ritualistic or uncritical reference to Bush in something. That is perhaps all I ever really meant, but this article has given me a much clearer idea of what constitutes an uncritical reference.

Tuesday, 19 June

Dewdney, Patricia and Gillian Michell. “Asking “Why” Questions in the Reference Interview: A Theoretical Justification.” Library Quarterly 67 (1), 1997: 50-71.

Citation provided to me by Christina Pikas via email 17 June due to our comments re theories of communication back on my David Bade LC WG posts, in particular for the Grice reference. She says I “opened up a bag of worms with this one” but she also knows I like to be schooled. 😉 Thanks, Christina.

This is a valuable article, which if it had been assigned in my reference class I might not be saying things like, “We really never discussed the reference interview.” Of course, this is a small part of reference interviewing, or so I imagine, since it only deals with “why” questions.

Christina “assigned” it to me due to the Grice reference and the accompanying section on “Cooperative Discourse” (55-57).

… the preceding analysis drawn from linguistics, philosophy, and cognitive science shows that “why” questions are unlikely to work well in the reference interview because they are perceived by the user as ambiguous, intrusive, or irrelevant. Furthermore, because “why” questions invite false inferences, both the user and the librarian tend to violate the rules governing cooperative behavior (62).

Contextualization, neutral questioning, and help chaining are suggested solutions to the problem of “why” questions.

I do believe that these ideas are important in communication, but I also have some doubts about how relevant this is to my (attempted) critique of Bade’s attempt at communication as I said at some point in that earlier conversation. Useful reading, nonetheless.

Frohmann, Bernard P. [Really is Bernd; just using the data on the article itself.] “An Investigation of the Semantic Bases of Some Theoretical Principles of Classification Proposed by Austin and the CRG.” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 4 (1), Fall 1983: 11-27.

Cited by Hjørland above with multiple references, including: “Frohmann (1983) has discussed the semantic bases and theoretical principles of some classification systems. His is one of the few papers in IS to recognize that problems in classification should be seen as problems related to semantic theories” (378).

Why, oh why does CCQ no longer have articles like this?

Demonstrates that Austin’s a priori semantics for machine-based classification is unclear and that it does not both meet the CRG’s criterion of adequacy, to which Austin subscribes, or can serve the purpose of machine retrieval.

[Criterion of adequacy “states that a necessary condition of an adequate system is that it be based upon a classification of knowledge (CRG 1955, 6)” (11). Further implications of this criterion are spelled out in the paper. Full cite for the canonical CRG paper is below.]

Looks at the semantics of the Classification Research Group (CRG) and shows that they are an a posteriori semantics; that is, “the semantic relations between terms are not given a priori but depend upon human activities. Since there is no a priori restriction upon the way human beings employ words in linguistic practices, there is no way to determine semantic relations between terms other than to look and see how people actually employ words” (13).

Then demonstrates that Austin clearly subscribes to an a apriori semantics; that is, “that there are context-free, or subject-neutral, generic relations” (19), according to which the hierarchies are given a priori by the meanings of the terms involved” (21).

A Wittgensteinian criticism is then leveled against Austin’s semantics. Frohmann points out that even if his argument is sound [I believe it is], “it does not follow that an information retrieval system cannot be both machine-compatible and adequate” (26).

Highly recommended for anyone interested in semantics of classification systems and information retrieval.

And CCQ, please ….

[Classification Research Group. “The Need for a Faceted Classification as the Basis of All Methods of Information Retrieval.” UNESCO document 320/5515 (International Advisory Committee for Documentation and Terminology in Pure and Applied Science). Paris, 1955.]

Wednesday, 20 June

Beghtol, Clare. “Classification for Information Retrieval and Classification for Knowledge Discovery: Relationships between “Professional” and “Naïve” Classifications.” Knowledge Organization 30 (2), 2003: 64-73.

Cited by Smiraglia (2007) “Performance Works: ….”

Examines the purposes, methods, similarities and differences between “naïve” and “professional” classifications.

In this paper, classifications for information retrieval are called “professional” classifications because they are devised by people who have a professional interest in classification, and classifications for knowledge discovery are called “naïve” classifications because they are devised by people who have no particular interest in studying classification as an end in itself (abstract, 64).

Despite liking the ideas in this article, I’m still not comfortable with these labels, especially since the 2 types of classifications serve different purposes. Could not a professional in another discipline just reverse the labels? What makes classification for info retrieval more professional than classification for knowledge discovery? Just because it is what “we” have been doing for so long now? One could easily argue that classification for knowledge discovery is epistemologically superior to classification for IR, and thus more “professional.” Anyway ….

There are important ideas in this mini “naïve” classification of classifications. Yes, I think one would have to agree that this is a “naïve” classification. Read the article and you’ll understand why; in addition to the fact that it isn’t a classification for IR.

This is an initial exploration of “naïve” classifications “to see how authors characterize their purposes and what classificatory methods they use” (65). The initial list of purposes includes:

  1. discover gaps in knowledge
  2. fill gaps in knowledge
  3. reconstruct historical situations and evidence
  4. facilitate integration and communication of findings
  5. suggest revisions or amplifications of accepted classifications (66)

These are not meant to be mutually exclusive and certainly not meant to be exhaustive. Examples of a “naïve” classification fitting each of these purposes is given.

Methods of construction are similar despite the differences in purposes. Beghtol claims two major implications follow from this funding.

  • Need to examine whether “naïve” classifications may support information retrieval (as a purpose).
  • Further comparisons will provide insights into their relationships; how different environments account for flexibility or rigidity, for one.

There are several other ideas in the paper, but I will leave it to you find them.

For those interested in classification, highly recommended.

ISO/IEC FDIS 13250-2. Information Technology — Topic Maps — Part 2: Data Model. 2005-12-16.

For Topic Maps class.

Thursday, 21 June

ISO/IEC FDIS 13250-3. Information Technology — Topic Maps — Part 3: XML Syntax. 2006-06-19.

For Topic Maps class.

Hjørland, Birger. “Fundamentals of Knowledge Organization.” Knowledge Organization. 30 (2), 2003: 87-111.

Cited by Smiraglia (2007) “Performance Works: ….”

Read this article! I do not fully agree with everything he says, but he is generally spot on.

Demonstrates that the filed has been driven by information technology and is “largely atheoretic and fragmented” and, thus, it is “difficult to sketch the more theoretical and scientific progress in this field” (88).

As a theoretical concept, “information” tends to move LIS and KO towards theories about control, feedback, coding and noise in transmitting messages, while “document” tends to move LIS towards theories about meaning, language, knowledge, epistemology and sociology. Therefore, in LIS there may be a whole paradigmatic conflict hidden in those words (90).

What an excellent analysis, and I certainly know which side of that conflict I want to work on. Such an analysis has serious implications in issues of power, control, and basic rights, also.

I love some of the distinctions that he rejects as basic methodological ones, such as machine-based methods vs. “manual” methods, or quantitative vs. qualitative methods (104). He also claims that, “In general our knowledge of how humans classify is limited” (104). As a footnote in this area (fn12) he has a comment regarding the need to record and qualitatively discuss our disagreements in the literature so that we may truly learn. Amen!

Smiraglia, Richard P. “Whither Knowledge Organization?: An Editorial.” Knowledge Organization. 33 (1), 2006: 8-10.

Found while getting the Dahlberg from last week.

OK, need to check the formatting and this has to go to press; ready or not.

NASKO 2007 – an historical moment, or perhaps only a moment in time

Last Wednesday morning I headed out for Toronto, Canada with my advisor, Kathryn La Barre, for the North American Symposium on Knowledge Organization, June 14-15, 2007.

The conference was Thursday afternoon and all day Friday with approximately 40 people in attendance. Big names, little names, old names, young names, academics (mostly), corporate folks, those in various middles.

At the end of the 1st day we had a business meeting at which the North American chapter of the International Society for Knowledge Organization (ISKO-NA) was born. I do not mean to be pretentious, but this was an historic moment. I am a bit too fresh to this field to know all of the history but this moment has been a long time in coming and is long overdue.

ISKO’s Mission

Founded in 1989, ISKO is the leading international society for organization of knowledge. ISKO has a broad and interdisciplinary scope. ISKO’s mission is to advance conceptual work in knowledge organization in all kinds of forms, and for all kinds of purposes, such as databases, libraries, dictionaries and the Internet.

As an interdisciplinary society, ISKO brings together professionals from many different fields. ISKO counts more than 500 members all over the world, from fields such as information science, philosophy, linguistics, computer science, as well as special domains such as medical informatics.

In order to achieve its mission and goals, ISKO works to

    • promote research, development and applications of knowledge organization systems that advance the philosophical, psychological and semantic approaches for ordering knowledge
    • provide the means of communication and networking on knowledge organization for its members
    • function as a connecting link between all institutions and national societies, working with problems related to the conceptual organization and processing of knowledge

We were welcomed by Brian Cantwell Smith, Dean of the Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto. He told us that despite a hiring freeze across the university FIS was being allowed to double both the number of faculty and students.

Richard Smiraglia, Long Island University, and Chair of NASKO 2007 was the next to welcome us.

[Conference papers available at dLIST.]

Next up was Clare Beghtol as the moderator for Contributed Papers Session 1. Papers presented in this session were:

Exploring Classification as Conversation. David M. Pimentel, Syracuse University. [my pre-conference comments here.]

I think that David is on to something here. I had a nice (but short) chat with him on Day 2. He seems to have narrowed his ideas a bit from what is in the paper, which is fair. I’d like to see this progress and then would be real interested in how we conceptualize and then build systems that can implement such ideas.

Ontology and the Semantic Web. Jane Zhang, Harvard University.

Coffee break

Jens-Erik Mai as moderator of Contributed Papers Session 2:

Everything Old is New Again: Finding a Home for Knowledge Structures in a Satisficing World. D. Grant Campbell, et. al., University of Western Ontario.

This paper is about “moving” vertical files to the Semantic Web. They are working within the area of Alzheimer’s Disease and providing a question and answer system that is designed for patients, family members, care givers and doctors. On the way home I realized that this is not really very Semantic Web-like at all. I guess one could say it is minimal-level SW. I guess I’d concede that, but only with a “barely.” This is not to suggest that it is not a useful project. I do believe that it shows promise. It just isn’t all that semantic.

Beyond Retrieval: A Proposal to Expand the Design Space of Classification. Melanie Feinberg, University of Washington.

Knowledge Strategy and its Influence on Knowledge Organization. Joseph Kasten, Dowling College.

Business Meeting: Rebecca Green was elected to chair the meeting and Clare Beghtol was elected as recorder.

A short discussion ensued as to establishing a North American chapter of ISKO. This was unanimously supported.

Richard Smiraglia, Joe Tennis and Kathryn La Barre were elected to draft our by-laws, submit a formal application to ISKO and to begin the process for our next meeting in 2009.

I am seriously looking forward to being involved with this organization and I hope that it will be a long-lived one. Kathryn has my name (formally) and will help me get involved with the planning for the next conference.

Day 2 will be covered in another post. But before I forget:

I really enjoyed myself at NASKO 2007! Thank you to our hosts, the planners, the student volunteers, the presenters and all in attendance for such a wonderful time.

Stop the World – I Want to Get Off


Let me just state for the record: As much as I will miss all my friends who will be at ALA (including the wholesale category I forgot when I was making decisions) and as much as I wish I had been able to accept the offer to be on a panel discussion of a topic near and dear to my heart I am so happy I am not going. I simply cannot do a 3rd conference in a 4-week span.

I am so far behind!

I have barely scratched the surface of reporting on NASIG (not entirely my fault as the slides were not posted before I left for NASKO) and I now have the wonderful and historic NASKO and forming of ISKO-NA to report on.

I have a class that started last Tuesday and already missed a full day (on campus session) on Wednesday [Thanks for the notes, Ben!]. I have to finish my Terminology Services independent study. I have homework.

I have to do my CV. I have to buy an interview suit. I seriously need to talk with some folks as there are things afoot and damn it I am their librarian!

I have pictures to upload which require metadata.

And let’s just leave the household stuff alone, except for the fact that I have a mildew issue and thus cannot close up the apartment and use the AC (not all that effective anyway) and it’s in the mid-90s today. And then there’s what the mildew does to me ….

Anyway ….

I have really enjoyed these conferences the last few weeks. I have seen old friends, met new ones, met my intellectual crush, met other leaders in my area(s) of interest, been present for a historic occasion, fell in love with a big city.

Thanks to those who provided me transportation, housing, conversation and friendship. My heart is strengthened by all that people do for me. I only hope that my efforts to uplift others is also useful, and that when I am in a place where I can do the sorts of things that others have been doing for me that I do so.

I have put/am putting pictures of my Toronto trip in 2 sets at Flickr: O, Canada and NASKO 2007. The 1st is more touristy and the 2nd more conferency. My amazing friend Jennimi also took photos.

Hopefully I will have more to say about both conferences and other things. So much going on in this little head of mine and so little time for any of it. As much as I wish I was “producing” and not just consuming, I am very grateful to all those who I admire and respect who have counseled me to just keep reading and that “it” will come out when I’m ready.

Jenny, Jennimi, June, Steve, Kathryn and others. Thank you.