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.

Some things read this week, 27 April – 3 May 2008

Saturday – Sunday, 26 – 27 April 2008

Abbott, Andrew. (2008). “Library Research and Its Infrastructure in the Twentieth Century.” Spring 2008 Windsor Lecture, 12 March 2008

Read the pdf, below. [Note: Audio in Real format.]

Windsor Lecture Series
“Library Research and Its Infrastructure in the Twentieth Century”

Dr. Andrew Abbott, University of Chicago
PDF format | audio recorded 3/12/2008

Sorry. Taking a rain check on this one once again. I went to the lecture and took some notes. Wanted to check them against the audio. Then I got the text of the lecture. Now it’s been a week since I read it.

I’d really like to write about it; I think Abbott makes some fine points. And [parts of] his research methodology really resonates with me for much of what I do. I understand that there are vastly different ways to “do research” but his is one I comprehend and feel.

Who knows if I’ll ever get around to writing about it. Thus, I suggest you check out the audio or text of the lecture, whichever works best for you.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

FRBR for Serials

Found at The Serials Cataloger blog in a post called “FRBR for Serials.”

Interesting. All I’m saying for now. Want to see/hear more.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Austin, Michael W, ed. 2007. Running & Philosophy: A Marathon for the Mind. Malden: Blackwell Pub.

  • Ch. 19 : The Soul of the Runner by Charles Taliaferro and Rachel Traughber.

Finished this. Quite good overall even if spotty in a few parts.

Tuominen, Kimmo, Sanna Talja, and Reijo Savolainen. 2002. Discourse, Cognition, and Reality: Toward a Social Constructionist Metatheory for Library and Information Science. In Emerging Frameworks and Methods: CoLIS 4: Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Conceptions of Library and Information Science, Seattle, WA, USA, July 21-25, 2002, Ed. Harry Bruce, 271-283, Greenwood Village, Colo: Libraries Unlimited. [WorldCat]

Looks at metatheories in LIS:

Three different metatheories—the information transfer model, constructivism, and social constructionism—are identified and their assumptions about the relationships between discourse, cognition, and reality are described (271).

The authors are arguing for a constructionist view.

Constructionism’s emphasis on language is heartening.

The primary emphasis of constructionism is not on mental but on linguistic processes. In constructionism, language is seen as constitutive for the construction of selves, and formation of meanings, not merely something that influences thinking (273).

To the following, I can only say, “Hear! Hear!”

Therefore, LIS would benefit from including an explicit theory of language into its metatheoretical repertoire (273).

Also contains a great, short critique of the information transfer model. And a nice view of the evolution of theory and metatheory.

Springer III, Edward V., and Rong Tang. 2002. A Communication Perspective on Meta-Search Engine Query Structure: A Pilot Study. In Emerging Frameworks and Methods: CoLIS 4: Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Conceptions of Library and Information Science, Seattle, WA, USA, July 21-25, 2002, Ed. Harry Bruce, 323-327, Greenwood Village, Colo: Libraries Unlimited. [WorldCat]

This one didn’t stick out so much for me.

Monday – Wednesday, 28 – 30 2008

Forster, Michael N. 2008. Kant and Skepticism. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

This is was interesting [finished it], particularly if one is into Kant and/or skepticism. But probably not the best use of my time currently. Le sigh.

At points I was understanding this a paragraph at a time, basically. The author has a very didactic way of explanation and writing but I can see how it is pretty much required when talking about issues such as these.

The last chapter is a charm, though. In it, “The Pyrrhonist’s Revenge,” Forster shows that Kant’s underestimation of “radical” [if you will] Pyrrhonism undercut his whole frame of transcendental arguments.

I was particularly taken by this paragraph and, even more so, by its footnote:

Hegel and Bardili also imply that classical logic has not been provided by Kant or his predecessors with any epistemological defense capable of protecting it against such skeptical attacks. This appears very plausible[35] (85).

[35] The question of the epistemological security of logical principles has in general received rather scandalously little attention from philosophers, who have tended, instead, to show indecent haste in attempting to reduce other sorts of principles to logical ones, on the assumption that the latter were certain and that their certainty would thereby transfer to the former as well—as, for example, in Kant’s explanation of analyticity in terms of the law of contradiction, and Frege’s attempt to reduce arithmetic to logic (143).

Always one of my pet peeves with logic and logicians who want to use it as the ultimate basis for, well, much of anything, much less of everything, instead of as the wonderful tool (among many) available.

Referring to “Kant’s explanation of analyticity in terms of the law of contradiction” there’s also the matter of inferring belief in the law of contradiction from people’s inability to believe contradictions. At best, one might infer tacit agreement if the principle was articulated. But seeing as I hold that people are able to believe contradictory things, [perfectly healthy, normal people] this bad argument has even less force for me [See for example, “Why Kripke was Puzzled About “A Puzzle About Belief.”] Actually, I don’t so much hold as people can hold contradictory beliefs, although they can, but that most cases of description of people holding beliefs that contradict are by 3rd parties. As most people are fully unaware of their contradictory beliefs 1st person accounts fail to even notice them.

Having re-read that piece on Kripke I am quite proud of myself that my main argument over those years was already one of language in use. When I 1st noticed (remembered) that it was like a slap upside the head. But it also made sense. Another little piece of the puzzle just fell into place.

There are other good reasons why one might want to question the epistemological basis of the law of contradiction (or any other fundamental law of logic), and thus how one gets logic started on a solid epistemological basis.

Cronin, Blaise, and Lokman I Meho. 2008. The shifting balance of intellectual trade in information studies. http://dlist.sir.arizona.edu/2254/ (Accessed April 4, 2008). Or: JASIST 59(4):551-564.

An interesting article with which I do and do not want to argue with their conclusions. Basically, they claim that Information Studies has become a much better exporter to, and somewhat better importer of, other disciplines.

This article also goes a long way towards why I have so many issues with bibliometric studies. To make this an actually doable project meant cutting lots of corners, as any large-scale, interesting study would require. But by cutting those corners then the best one can really get to is to point at what looks like a trend and to make tentative judgements. Have I ever seen an author make that claim in their analysis, though? Rarely.

They claim that the reasons for the “striking increase in foreign citation to the literature of IS can be explained in large measure by two developments” [i.e., exports] (11). One is the “growth of research domains influenced materially by advances in information technology and Internet applications …” (11). “Second, the expansion of ISI’s coverage of domains cognate to information studies” (12). At this point they discuss the case of Lecture Notes in Computer Science, the number one importer from IS. LNCS is not only number one but is so by a factor of 4.35 times the 2nd highest importer, Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence. The 3rd highest is only 3/4 of #2 and it goes rapidly down from there.

Now, admittedly, there is a fairly long tail in the remaining top 200 importers. But. The claim is that the “number of non-IS papers citing the IS literature has risen from 3,982 for the period 1977-1986 to 18,079 for the period 1997-2006, an increase of 354%” (10). That is all well and good, and on one hand I can’t dispute it (accepting all caveats of their methodology).

Knowing that LNCS numbers in the multiple 1000s (at least 3500) I wondered how many of those were published before ISI started indexing them and might in fact contain citations left unaccounted for. So I took me a quick trip to Springer’s LNCS site and had a look around. Here’s what I found:

  • 1975-79: 48 titles
  • 1980-84: 91
  • 1985-89: 208
  • 1990-94: 450
  • 1995-99: 766
  • 2000: 200
  • 2001: 269
  • 2002: 274
  • 2003: 325
  • 2004: 360
  • 2005: 473
  • 2006: 519
  • 2007: 521
  • 2008: 98*

So my hypothesis may be out the window, but …. Do you see anything else interesting?

I’m not going to attempt to do the math, but that is a significant increase in titles published each year. In 2007 there was well over 5x the numbers published between 1980-84, for example.

So the authors’ claim that (part of) the increase is due to an increase in coverage by ISI is, perhaps, not untrue. But neither is it the truth really. If we assume a similar increase in output in LNAI then these two series alone have had a dramatic impact on what looks like increased outside citation of IS. And I can’t really deny that it is an increase in outside citation. But. Is it increased outside citation or primarily an increase in the number of things published? Both appear true. But the one alone could make it look like the other is the case.

The authors also state that, “[by] way of contrast, the level of intra-field citations (IS citing IS) increased by a mere 33% during the same time period” (10). There could be several reasons for this. Perhaps our field hasn’t seen such a dramatic increase in number of publications, perhaps the growth in number of citations per article in our field is far less than in others, and so on and so on.

So I can’t really say that Cronin and Meho are wrong. Neither do I believe that they are. But I do believe, even accepting all of the caveats that they (or anyone) had to to do a study of this size, that their analysis is at best only a part of the truth. First off, though, I find it quizzical to claim that there are more citations because the tools you use to count have increased their coverage of the “inbound” disciplines. That does not begin to show increased citations. At all. I find it even more odd to attribute the massive increase to the increased coverage in ISI. It is not an increased coverage at all. Rather it is a massively increased publication output that continues to be covered by ISI.

And that is far more than I ever wanted to say about this article.

Gnoli, Claudio, Gabriele Merli, Gianni Pavan, Elisabetta Bernuzzi, and Marco Priano. 2008. Freely faceted classification for a Web-based bibliographic archive : the BioAcoustic Reference Database. http://dlist.sir.arizona.edu/2274/ (Accessed April 4, 2008). Presented at: Repositories of knowledge in digital spaces: accessibility, sustainability, semantic interoperability. 11th German ISKO Conference. Konstanz, 20-22 February 2008.

This is a project to watch. It does have a freely available public interface at http://www.iskoi.org/ilc/bard/ but I suggest reading the article so you have some idea what it is doing before playing with it. The article isn’t long.

Thursday – Friday, 1 – 2 May 2008

Wilson, Patrick. 1968. Two Kinds of Power : an Essay on Bibliographical Control. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Loving it so far. [I think that’s all I want to say for now.]

Friday, 2 May 2008

Smiraglia, Richard. 2007. Two Kinds of Power: Insight Into the Legacy of Patrick Wilson. In Proceedings of the Canadian Association for Information Science, Mcgill University, Montreal, Quebec: Canadian Association for Information Science http://www.cais-acsi.ca/proceedings/2007/smiraglia_2007.pdf (Accessed May 1, 2007).

I may well have to write about this later. Seeing as it is bibliometric I need to comment on why I am more accepting of this piece than, say, Cronin and Meho above. There is much more to this piece though, for me, than its bibliometric issues. That is, it is far more meaningful for me as a whole.

Short, 13-pages with citations. Well worth reading as an example of domain analysis around “a classic work” [in our own field even].

The short answer as to why this sits better with me is because in one sense it validates much of my reading of the last 4+ years. The literature described by Smiraglia is a good description of what I have spent my time on for a while now. It is one [good] description of my view of the literature. It validates me.

It ain’t exactly rational, but its true.

Coutu, Walter. 1962. An operational definition of meaning. Quarterly Journal of Speech XLVIII, no. 1:59-64.

Sent here by Budd (1992) The Library and Its Users: The Communication Process, p. 97.

Seems kind of behaviorist, to say the least, but also has some interesting points. Wonder if Harris has commented on it anywhere. Will have to scrub some reference lists maybe.

Some things read this week, 20 – 26 April 2008

Sunday – Thursday, 20 – 24 Apr 2008

Lodge, David. 1992. Changing Places: A Tale of Two Campuses. New York: Penguin Books.

Wasn’t sure if I was going to continue this but I read it on and off on Sunday and made a big dent at dinner in the Alley on Monday. I’m 66% of the way through so I imagine I’ll finish it and then shift back to more serious things.

Finished this Thursday afternoon. I guess it was OK as it had some moments but I can’t recommend it overall.

Wednesday, 23 Apr 2008

2007. Running & Philosophy: A Marathon for the Mind. Malden: Blackwell Pub.

  • Ch. 17 : “Where the Dark Feelings Hold Sway”: Running as Aesthetic Experience by Martha Nussbaum
  • Ch. 18 : The Power of Passion on Heartbreak Hill by Michelle Maiese.

Only one chapter left to go. Good book.

Friday – Saturday, 25 – 26 Apr 2008

Guarino, Nicola and Christopher A. Welty. “An Overview of OntoClean.” In Staab, Steffen, and Rudi Studer, ed. 2004. Handbook on Ontologies. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.

Actually a fairly good article, but I have major concerns over their explanation of rigidity. It has certainly been a bit since I last read Kripke or any other relevant literature on rigidity … but they blow it in their explanation, IMHO.

I think they have it right in the end. But. Their presentation is confused. They use a highly questionable example and then make several implicit assumptions in its use and description. It might actually work if they spelled out all of their assumptions but there must be better examples.

I ran it by one or two people and would read a sentence and they’d say, “See, they’re assuming such and such and they are right.” Then I’d read the next sentence where the assumption seems to be reversed and they went, “Oh!”

Lest you think this is nit-picking—it may be but I do not think so—I also have the same complaints about many of the examples used in the cataloging and classification literature. These examples are critical. Many of these concepts are extremely difficult and nuanced. Crystal clear and meaningful examples are a must. Also, in today’s world, quit with the culturally-specific examples. I fully realize that The Wizard of Oz is fairly international by this point. I also realize that there may be few to no fully international examples available, but with a little care I do think excellent examples could be found for anyone who might be reading this kind of literature in the first place.

Recommend. But read carefully.

Saturday, 26 Apr 2008

Frohmann, Bernd. 2008. Subjectivity and information ethics. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 59, no. 2:267-277. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/asi.20742 (Accessed March 2, 2008).

Recommended if you are into information ethics at all.

Some things read this week, 30 March – 5 April 2008

Note: Not that it matters to anyone but me but my chronology may be a bit off due to Comcast pretty much taking over my life for most of this week and the end of the last one.

Sunday – Thursday, 30 Mar – 3 Apr 2008

Budd, J. (2008). Self-Examination: The Present and Future of Librarianship. , 281. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.

Read ch. 2 Place and Identity (Sun.?) and began ch. 3 Being Informed about Informing (Thu).

For anyone interested in the current debates about the profession/”just who is a librarian?” there is a decent discussion in ch. 2 of this topic, along with one on LIS education. Not saying I fully agree with Budd on either, but he makes some good points on both heads.

Monday – Friday, 31 Mar – 4 Apr 2008

Critchley, S. (2001). Continental philosophy : a very short introduction, Very short introductions, 43. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.

This is an excellent introduction to the split between Continental and Anglo-American (or analytic) philosophy, along with why it needs to be eradicated and some ways to work towards a reconciliation.

The primary reason for the split is the professionalization of the discipline and self-identification by said professionals. Hmmm. Sounds kind of familiar. Sadly.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday – Thursday, 2 – 3 Apr 2008Dousa, Thomas. (2008) Subject Heading Specificity with Especial Reference to LCSH: A Basic Bibliography.

Tom has produced an excellent annotated bibliography for his 3rd assignment in 590SA (Subject access & subject analysis).

Friday, 4 Apr 2008

Budd, J. (1992). The Library and Its Users: The Communication Process. , Contributions in librarianship and information science., 71, 193. New York: Greenwood Press.

Grabbed this because Budd cited it in ch. 3 of Self-Examination. “As one would suspect, the literature on communication is voluminous. That literature will not be covered in great depth here; elsewhere I (Budd, 1992) have examined it in some detail” (79).

Now that was interesting to know, so I grabbed it the next day as quickly as I could. And I might, in fact, read this one first and then go back to Self-Examination.

I need to know about these texts. There is another one Pauline told me about that used to be a textbook, at least 4 editions. I picked up all 4, which we had. It seems our profession goes through cycles in the (mostly) lip service paid to our being in the business of communicating.

Read the Introduction and ch. 1 Libraries, Information, and Meaning at lunch.

As I suspected, and complained about last week, Budd does not make the same mistake here re the need for language for the possibility of communication.

Saturday, 5 Apr 2008

Library of Congress. (1951). Subject Headings: A Practical Guide. , 140. Washington: U.S. Govt. Printing Office.

Read parts of this for Tom’s presentation/discussion of his project this coming Tuesday (see the bibliography above).

Svenonius, E. (1976). Metcalf and the principles of specific entry. In W. B. Rayward (Ed.), The Variety of Librarianship: Essays in Honour of John Wallace Metcalfe (pp. 171-189). Sandy Bay, Tas: Library Association of Australia.

Same as above. Recommended.

Web Ontology Language: OWL (ch. 4 of a soon-to-be published book on the Semantic Web from MIT Press, I believe. Handed out in class last week.)

For 590OD. Good stuff to know, to say the least. But it just feeds my beliefs that the Semantic Web will not save the world despite what Sir Tim and others might think. There is actually so little of importance that can be modeled using First Order Logic, or, should I say, there is so much more of importance than what can be modeled by FOL.

In fact, I believe they even blow one of their examples. I may have to go to class on Tuesday just to find out. Or else I’ll simply talk to Allen or Karen about it

Some things read this week, 24 February – 1 March 2008

Monday, 25 Feb 2008

White, Alan R. Introduction. In White, Alan R, ed. 1968. The Philosophy of Action. London: Oxford University Press.

This edited volume on the philosophy of action includes articles by J. L. Austin, Danto, Davidson, Anscombe, and others (some classics). I probably won’t read much more of it and I think I grabbed it when I saw it in the stacks due to … oh, who knows why I grabbed it a few days ago. ::shrug::

The Introduction was fairly interesting. He primarily covers:

  • A. The nature of action
  • B. Descriptions of action
  • C. Explanations of action

The first part gives an overview of action by pulling apart ‘do, ‘action’, and ‘act’, as they are not the same thing. It then quickly narrows to focusing on human action. The last section addresses the following questions:

(i) How does each of these explanations actually explain? (ii) How are the different explanations, and the various factors that occur in each, related to each other? (iii) Are some of these kinds of explanations mutually exclusive? (iv) How many, if any, of these explanations give an explanation of a causal kind, or, if this is different, of the kinds which are found either in explanations of human characteristics other than behaviour or in explanations of inanimate nature (13)?

Here’s an example sentence from the section addressing question (ii) above:

To give the motive for a deed is to indicate that desire for the sake of satisfying which the deed was done, provided that what was done was not itself the deed which was desired, but a deed which the agent thought would bring about or would amount to what was desired (14).

Either excruciatingly painful, pure mental masturbation, or both, depending on your temperament.

Black, Alistair. The information society: a secular view. In: Hornby, Susan, and Zoë Clarke, ed. 2003. Challenge and Change in the Information Society. London: Facet.: 18-41.

Critiques the “near-paradigmatic status” of the information society. Argues that the discourse around the information society is a mirage. It is also exposed as a ‘regime of truth” whose “legitimacy, [and] sustenance, is drawn from a wide array of interested parties who, albeit perhaps not in any conspiratorial way, stand to gain social or professional recognition, if not material reward, from establishing the information society as a ‘given’ phenomenon, as an incontrovertible ‘fact’ (19).

Yes, that certainly implicates librarians and libraries.

Demonstrates that the information society fits within modernity and that there have been equally important ‘information ages’ previously.

The information society cannot be conceptualized as a post-industrial, post-modern phenomenon, for its essences – scientific progress and individual and social emancipation among them – are surely rooted in the modern societies which have flowed, over the past three centuries, from industrialism, capitalism and the Enlightenment project (33).

Also touches on the utopianism of the information society. Quite interesting and recommended.

The book includes sections on: The information society: fact or fiction? (3 chaps.); The information society and daily life (3 chaps.); The information society and policy (2 chaps); and, The information society and the information professional (4 chaps).

Tuesday, 26 Feb 2007

Read 2 more chapters and the Introduction in the above information society book.

From the Introduction:

Our idea from the outset was to let the authors have their own voice and to allow debate and discussion within the text and between the authors.

This book is intended for those people in professional practice and in the field of academic study and research who have an interest in the information society and its impact on the profession. We hope that this collection will enable the reader to consider different viewpoints and aspects of the information society (xiii).

Cornish, Graham P. Freedom versus protection: the same coin or different currencies. P. 169-183.

Discusses “three basic concepts in the information world which appear, on occasions at least, to be at odds with each other: the right of freedom of expression, the right of freedom of access to information and the right to protect what we create (mostly copyright) (169).

Brophy, Peter. The role of the professional in the information society. P. 217-232.

Discusses the impact that the information society is having in the information professions, professionalism, and professional ethics.

Tuesday, 26 Feb 2008

Abbott Andrew. (2007 preprint) The Traditional Future: A Computational Theory of Library Research.

Recommended to me by Nathan in a comment in Oct 2008. I finally got around to reading the Peter Brantley article, The Traditional Future, on 2 December. I immediately and dutifully saved the Abbott preprint and printed it as soon as I could do so double-sided (easily).

Dr. Abbott is coming to GSLIS in March to give the Spring 2008 Windsor Lecture.

The title of his talk is “Library Research and Its Infrastructure in the Twentieth Century.”

I have known that he iss coming for a while now and have held this article for reading until closer to his visit. I’m not a standard social science researcher nor a traditional library researcher (although much closer to library researcher) so I may not be qualified to comment on some of this but it seems fairly plausible, if admittedly somewhat schematic. I also do not enjoy his use of the computing metaphor. The world faces enough issues from analogizing practically everything to computers.

All in all, fairly interesting. I will enjoy going to his lecture more prepared than most. There were also a couple of connections to the rhetoric of science and division of labor, which are important ideas in my current work.

Wednesday – Thursday, 27 – 28 Feb 2008

International Society for Knowledge Organization, and University College, London. 2004. Knowledge Organization and the Global Information Society: Proceedings of the Eighth International ISKO Conference, 13-16 July 2004, London, UK. Ed. Ia McIlwaine. Würzburg: Ergon.

  • Green, Rebecca and Lydia Fraser. Patterns in verbal polysemy. 29-34.
  • O’Keefe, Daniel J. Cultural literacy in a global information society-specific language: an exploratory ontological analysis utilizing comparative taxonomy. 55-59.
  • Binding, Ceri and Douglas Tudhope. Integrating faceted structure into the search process. 67-72. (Thu)
  • Mai, Jens-Erik. The role of documents, domains and decisions in indexing. 207-213. (Thu)

I really liked the Green and Mai articles. Mai, especially, will be valuable for my CAS paper as a widening of the concept of domain analysis.

Wednesday – Saturday, 27 Feb – 1 Mar 2008

 

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

 

Began this again. Read about half in the back half of December but had to put it aside to finish my bibliography and a new semester and ….

  • Introduction.
  • Ch. 1: On Inscribed or Literal Meaning (Thu)
  • Ch. 2: Metaphor (Fri-Sat)
  • Ch. 3: Intentionality and Coming into Language (Sat-Sun)

Thursday – Friday, 28 – 29 Feb 2008

Skare, Roswitha, Niels Windfeld Lund, and Andreas Vårheim, ed. 2007. A Document (Re)turn: Contributions from a Research Field in Transition. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

  • Ørom, Anders. The Concept of Information versus the Concept of Document. 53-72.
  • Frohmann, Bernd. Multiplicity, Materiality, and Autonomous Agency of Documentation. 27-39.
  • Drucker, Johanna. Excerpts and Entanglements. 41-52.

Saturday, 1 Mar 2008

McGarry, Dorothy. An Interview with Elaine Svenonius. 2000. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 29(4):5-17.

Sent to me by Bryan Campbell back in mid-Jan; finally found the time to read it. I knew Svenonius had done “some things” in our field, but I simply had no idea!

Saturday, 1 Mar 2008

Mai, Jens-Erik. 2005. Analysis in indexing: document and domain centered approaches. Information Processing & Management 41, no. 3:599-611. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6VC8-4BN0DSN-2/2/041a56f590f2166e0305c00d5d311a73.

This article appears to be the formal, published representation of Mai’s ISKO article above, The role of documents, domains and decisions in indexing. It will be used to expand the concept of domain analysis, primarily, and perhaps also in my commentary on applications of Integrationism to LIS, in this case indexing.

Recommended.

Omega and Alpha

The end approaches and Tuesday I spent preparing for it.

A few weeks ago I sent in a petition to the Grad College to move my “additional” 2 hours from my MS (42 vs. 40-required) to my CAS. That was approved last Friday (Feb 1st).

Seeing as I had 72 completed hours that put me at 32 for the CAS and as I’m doing (fingers and toes crossed!) my 8-hour paper this semester I applied for (another) May graduation (also 40-required hours).

I did finish my Bibliography class last month but it remains ungraded so I will have an additional 4-hours at the end after all.

I also have what I continue to think of as an Incomplete (4-hrs.) but it is actually an F now. That could be changed if I could turn something in but that is looking unlikely. It is the independent study I was working on last spring on Terminology Services.

I’m still immensely interested in many aspects of the topic but even though my advisor and I went into the semester thinking I could probably do something she could grade we agreed Tuesday that I best just focus on my CAS paper. So I also filed a petition to have the grade changed to a W for Withdrawn. It’ll remain on the transcript—Independent Study will be so illuminating—but have no effect on my GPA. Current impact? OMG!!

[Of course, it’s all relative. As UIUC grads know, here an A- will reduce your GPA. I got one and it was deservedly so (last MS semester). So I had a 3.96 last graduation and now I have 3.76. Ouch!]

Don’t confront me with my failures.
I had not forgotten them.

Jackson Browne. These Days. For Everyman. [WorldCat]

I do actually have a terminologies idea but it is way too deep for a semester paper, especially if I’m actually trying to graduate ….

… and find a job. [I once ended up in the Army for quite awhile trying to avoid finding a job.]

As to the topic, I’m not even ready to talk about it here. I’ve put a couple of feelers out and I’m noticing bits here and there and trying my best to record them for now. My 1st coherent comments on the matter came in an IM conversation with my good buddy, Iris, who was so kind to “listen” as I tried to “say” something coherent. Thanks, Iris. All in all, all I have at the moment is one half of a hypothesis that seems pretty uncontroversial (but how it is fleshed out might well matter to some) and another half that is the vaguest hand waving in the direction of something that is hard to state even in skeletal form. To me it sounds like it couldn’t be the slightest bit controversial in skeletal form (but I know better). As to how it’d play if actually coherently fleshed out I cannot begin to say. But I sure as hell would like to.

I am pretty certain that what I am claiming is so. The question is whether or not the differences make a difference. Finding those differences will involve falling down a couple of rabbit holes once the descent of the current one begins to slow down.

Seems I now have a “research agenda” as a future academic librarian. I just need to find the job interview way of saying it. :( Luckily I am pretty much there now with the current one, which I foresee going on for a long time, at least the Integrationism bit.

Which brings us back to the Alpha. It seems that I am officially on the job market and looking for a job. There is no way that I can rely on staying here no matter how many people might tell me they want me to stay. All I can say is “Show me the job(s)” then. Cause I’d be happy to stay for the right job.

One of the problems with UIUC is the fact that we have an LIS school and a large academic library (40 some odd truthfully). Lots of folks stick around here for assorted reasons—townies all along, spouse still in grad school, …. Despite the size of our library there are not that many full-time openings available, nor do they tend to hire our own grads.

But one of the benefits of being large is we get lots of grants and there are all sorts of grant-funded Visiting Professorships in the library. There might also be hourly work available, but that means no benefits, which might be OK if you have an employed spouse. I really have little doubt that I could stay, at least for a while.

I have told my bosses (and others) that as much as I’d like to stay I certainly do not have to. I also have no need to take any job just to stay. Nor will I.

Personally, I think I could do the institution a lot of good if they kept me around. Not just for UIUC or the Library but for GSLIS, too. Just an opinion, mind you.

I can go anywhere, technically. I have no restraints. I’m pretty certain I don’t want to be in a major city, though. Nor do I want to be at a school with 400 students in the middle of nowhere.

Most of the above was written a couple days ago but I am having a hard time finishing this as I need to be careful. I don’t want to seemingly rule something out so that someone on a search committee can say, “That describes us so he doesn’t even want to be here!”

I am a long way from applying for any jobs that I don’t want (as best as I can tell from all sources short of visiting). In fact, I doubt I’ll get to that point. That behavior has never made sense to me.

Of course, telling what kind of job it really is based on a job ad/description is a crap shoot of the highest order.

So. I want an academic position; tenure is not important. I could take it or leave it. I will pursue continuing opportunities to learn about interesting things and to share that with others via formal and informal publishing whether or not I am required to do so.

I want to do cataloging/metadata work, preferably descriptive and classificatory work of resources more towards the individual end than in the aggregate. Vocabulary work and other forms of classificatory structures are also on the table.

Serials do not scare me. In fact, that is where most of my current experience lies, although I also do monographs now. I do not think I am ready to be an electronic resources librarian but I do hope to learn more of what I need to feel qualified, along with many other things that I am interested in but have little or no experience with yet.

Working with people who are interesting, hopefully fun, and who are actively engaged in helping each other learn their craft so as to provide better service to their patrons and to move the profession forward are all important. I am not out to save the world (20 years in the Army demonstrated the futility of that endeavor) but I do want to make it a better one.

Anyone knowing of anything they think I might be interested in is welcome to point me towards them. :)

Uncontrolled Vocabulary, the Carnival, and the LC Working Group; or, the recognition of frustration

Back in December, a few days before the deadline passed for comments on the Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control, I wrote a post called just that.

In it I expressed much frustration; with both the big picture issues facing bibliographic control and those of my daily frustration in trying to use the tools my profession supplies me to do so.

I was popping off in that post. Clearly. Heck, I even tossed out an f-bomb. I was (am) mad.

Well, thanks to Anna Creech (or so I believe. By the way, thanks, Anna!) that post showed up both on Uncontrolled Vocabulary #24 [revisited momentarily in #25] and in the Carnival of the Infosciences (#86) about a month after I wrote it.

My first reaction to learning it had been discussed on Uncontrolled Vocabulary was mild shock. Oh my! Which idea in it had they latched onto? Hopefully not my (temporary) defeatist attitude regarding my personal feedback on the report. Thankfully, not.

Greg’s initial “almost motivated me to advocacy” line really struck me. A fair few of my colleagues—I’m guessing a significant percentage—have no real idea of the issues catalogers and metadata folks go through with their tools, or the lack of them.

Everyone picks on the OPAC because it’s easy to do so, and most stripes of librarian have to use one. My gripes are much broader. Yes, the OPAC sucks. But so do the various modules in the ILS. I have almost 7 years experience with Voyager’s circulation and cataloging clients due to working in Circulation; (minimal) Cataloging (E-Reserves); and now Cataloging. I have no doubt the Acquisitions folks have complaints about aspects of that module, and so on.

In cataloging, besides needing our ILS module, we need our classification schedules—either in print or online, or both—DDC in our case, AACR2, subject headings list (LCSH), Classification Web, Cataloger’s Desktop, “foreign” language encyclopedias, Connexion (WorldCat), Cutter tables, ….

Then there are the assorted policies emanating from the many organizations involved. Let’s just leave that at many. And some number of these policies actually constrain the work we can do in most libraries.

While OCLC policies do allow qualified libraries to enrich WorldCat records centrally, some consider these policies to be overly restrictive (On the Record : Report of The Library of …, 13, emphasis mine)

These not very well expressed reasons are why I and many others are frustrated. And most of our colleagues cannot even feel our pains. Folks working with other forms of metadata face similar and related issues with their assorted tools, or lack thereof.

Cooperative cataloging. That’s existed for a long time. Right? People use the phrase all the time so it must be an “entity” of some sort one would assume. I would beg to differ.

I do appreciate the Working Group’s calls for increased cooperation and “distribution of responsibility for bibliographic record production and maintenance” (16). I particularly like:

1.2.4.1 LC, PCC, and OCLC: Explore ways to increase incentives and tools for contributions of new bibliographic records, as well as upgrades or corrections to existing records … (18).

While I realize that some may need incentives, could you please just get out of my way and let me do my (basic) job? Yes, there is a bigger context to this such that this item makes wonderful sense. But I still find it more than mildly ironic.

As slight side excursion based on the first quote from the LC report above:

While OCLC policies do allow qualified libraries to enrich WorldCat records centrally, some consider these policies to be overly restrictive (On the Record : Report of The Library of …, 13, emphasis mine)

When will we stop talking like this? Could someone please explain to someone intelligent involved in writing this report that there is not a single library that has ever produced any kind of surrogate, much less added any records to WorldCat. Nor will there ever be.

This poor use of language (rife in our field and made fun of here before) leads to issues with policies which must be defined within the context of this poor use. Libraries, qualified or not, do not really do anything. People of the cataloging persuasion (or assignment) catalog and add or correct records in WorldCat.

But it is libraries that are “qualified” by our various cooperative agreements. This is part of the problem.

I am not through reading the final report yet, about half-way (read this past Mon. at the diner for dinner. Now 2 past.).

This realization that:

A fair few of my colleagues—I’m guessing a significant percentage—have no real idea of the issues catalogers and metadata folks go through with their tools, or the lack of them.

… I had due to my post being featured in these 2 collective stalwarts of the bibliogosphere around the same time. I was aware of the UV appearance first and there is really something odd about hearing your post discussed on the web.

Like Greg, my realization almost led me to advocacy. But this is a delicate situation for a multitude of reasons. I try to be very careful on the few times I bring my actual experiences at work here. Almost every one of my complaints is with something other than my institution and I do not want to give the impression otherwise. But there is so much that does not get talked about in our field (not only in cataloging, of course). Even critique towards a positive end state is rarely publicly welcomed and/or welcomed in public.

Thus, as much as I would love to spend more time talking about these issues here and perhaps shedding a little light on them for a handful or two of people, I simply cannot do any more than the rare instance when I do. Which lines can or cannot be crossed, and which of the first are wise to do so seem like questions best answered by avoiding them (like everyone else).

There was a bit of discussion in the comments at Uncontrolled Vocabulary #24 about what I was saying. I came a tad late to the party but was able to add a comment clarifying what I was trying to say.

As I wrote there, I am feeling a bit better as I am learning to try and modify in increments. I just wish when you weren’t allowed to change some specific field it would tell you versus making you look in some crazy long document, especially if you forgot the 1st sentence about increments. Other validation errors tell you what the problem is.

But. Yes. I remain frustrated when I cannot do something like change a title that is wrong in a pre-pub record.

I also got a decent amount of long-term headaches taken care of and off of my desk the last couple days. :) I don’t do resolutions anymore but I did swear I was going to move some of that stuff. About half is gone (mostly in the last 2 days) and I’m waiting on an answer on 2 things.

I do feel bad about some of that stuff sitting there for a couple months sometimes. But let’s be realistic here. They give me these things (or wait for someone like me to come along) because they are nightmares and they don’t want to do them. I get a lot of found stuff. Some of it has been sitting somewhere from 2 years to several decades. Literally. So, honestly I can’t really sweat the couple months it’s been on my desk. And as I said it is moving on.

Hope is hard when you are continuously frustrated from doing your job.

Accountability and Acts of Professional Classification

As I wend my way through ever more readings on integrational linguistics I become even more enamored of this view of language. Vastly more important than the valid reasons for liking it that arise from the excellent philosophical, sociological and historical critiques of Western views of language, and of academic linguistics, in particular, that Roy Harris and others have generated is the fact that it begins to explain my own lived and felt experiences of language use. And that is one powerful reason.

I have just finished the book, Integrational Linguistics: A First Reader (full citation below), with the last section, entitled “Language and Society.”

Ideas from 2 chapters read Tuesday (18 Dec) really resonated with me regarding issues within librarianship and, in particular, professionalism. The first are from Hutton’s chapter, “Law Lessons for Linguists? Accountability and Acts of Professional Classification.”

Hutton writes:

Thus, while academic linguists might consider themselves professionals, and might even be regarded as such by non-academics (for example in marketing surveys, sociological categorizations, etc.), they rarely have the kinds of professional skills that are exercised at the intersection of academia and society. In this sense, they are not professional experts: their professional standards and professional knowledge are largely discipline-internal. Linguistic theories are created, debated, rejected or affirmed primarily by other linguists, and career advancement in linguistics, as in other academic careers, depends on peer review, on what ‘the field’ has to say. This is not necessarily to imply the theoretical beliefs of doctors and lawyers or better grounded in empirical reality than those of linguists; rather that there is no automatic challenge to linguists’ professional language that arises out of their daily professional experience. They do not have to explain themselves, or what they are doing, to others qua specialists (294-295).

In brief, linguists are not accountable or responsible to non-linguists, broadly speaking, for their acts of classification (303).

The discipline of linguistics as a whole can only make a contribution to interpretive issues by accepting, at least in principle, some form of social accountability for its acts of classification. As long as linguists seek to accrue all the trappings of professionalism, such as academic status, prestige, influence on neighbouring disciplines, a masterful and opaque terminology, with none of the costs (the scrutiny of those acts of classification, public debate, criticism, challenges to those ideas from ethical and other standpoints, a critique of opaque terminology), the profession will continue to experience a sense of crisis that threatens the existence of linguistics departments in the United States and worldwide (303).

Any new metalanguage must arise out of a genuine attempt by linguists to understand the beliefs, practice and customs of … in relation to language, … (303-304).

Take that 1st paragraph and substitute librarians and (academic) librarianship and you have a pretty accurate description of librarianship and particularly academic librarianship. Be aware that I am not arguing that this is how it should be; in fact, I am arguing the opposite.

These sentiments, I feel, go a long way to explaining much of the angst and, often, hostility that goes along with many of the changes we face in the practice of librarianship. Long gone is that world where we are free to dictate, with no responsibility for, our practices.

We need a new metalanguage of librarianship. We need a metalanguage which is fully engaged and conversant with “the beliefs, practice and customs of” our patrons; whomever they are. We must strive for “social accountability for [our] acts of classification,” broadly construed.

I do believe that academic librarianship is, perhaps, a bit more accountable than linguistics in that there is some influence on our career advancement that isn’t strictly internal, but it is not much.

Perhaps, as Hutton claims, if librarianship was more engaged with those we serve we would not be facing such an existential crisis as we are currently. We must begin to explain ourselves. And by that I do not mean marketing. If you choose to spin it broadly as marketing fine. But marketing serves a vastly different aim than does explanation. Both are needed, but we must not confuse the goals to be achieved by each means.

Morris on translation: I also take much of what Morris writes about translation as a highly applicable (metaphoric?) description of what we do with our classifications, subject headings, thesauri and other forms of description/subject analysis. Thus, all of his caveats about translation apply to our work as well.

He also had some comments on anthropology as “cultural translation” that I wanted to include but the quotes didn’t work as well. I also see much of what I do as a “cataloger” as anthropological. It is cultural anthropology in many and varied ways, be it description and translation of other “cultures” to description, interpretation and evaluation of assorted material cultures and artifacts. Thus, many issues of concern to anthropology ought to concern us in our libraries and as librarians.

… but the translator is exceptionally well placed to appreciate how many areas of human life are taken in, experienced and expressed in irresolvably distinct ways. The issue is not whether something will be lost, a nuance or a shade of meaning, for these certainly will, but whether something more important, the overall sense of a text, its meaning in its context, will be permanently obscured even by the careful and respectful moving of each linguistic brick (313).

This directly and forcefully applies to the work of assigning subject descriptors and classifications, at least as currently practiced. Our tools and practices constrain us in our ways that we can “translate” what a work is about. Sometimes our tools work well towards this end, but more frequently they fail us and force us to describe something in ways in which the creator and the audience would disagree with our translation. We may only lose some “nuance or a shade of meaning” but we will often obscure meaning by removal of important context.

The essential problem that aspiring innocent translators face is not the oneness of the world, or the sameness of experience that they imagine can be relexified, language by language. It is the differences we experience in contact with another society which happily afford us meaningful surprises. But beginning translators, intent on finding the word or phrase that corresponds to the ‘same’ experience in their own language, overlook and miss the significance of what might otherwise surprise them (314).

Ah, yes. Searching LCSH and DDC for that subject heading or classification “that corresponds to the ‘same’ experience in [our] own language” can cause us to “miss the significance of what might otherwise surprise [us]” or, even worse, to ignore it.

Here is a kind of limit to the idea that we should trust not the teller but the tale. No tale is told with absolute completeness, the listener must always supply what language points to. The translator-listener must not only supply what the listener in the original language would normally supply from experience of that other society, but also specifically refrain from supplying what would not be supplied. And in a sense, business letters, government documents, personal accounts, words spoken in court, all are tales (315).

Our tools, due primarily to their slowly changing nature, can force us to supply “what would not be supplied” and to leave out “what the listener in the original language would normally supply.”

The specific ways we analyze and teach language, and the tools we use – dictionaries, grammars and so forth – not only illuminate but can interfere with our understanding, impose a kind of pattern that diverts attention as one tries to listen to the language of the text, which is someone else’s language, after all. The continuity of the writer with his world may be lost to the translator in the choppy reduction that the formal study of language implies.

These wonderful tools of analysis, instruction and reference, monuments to the creative richness of a tradition of thought, all essential in translation, may also have the effect of authorizing translators to only think in their terms, and so constitute a limitation on the imagination (315).

DDC, LCC, LCSH all authorize us “to only think in their terms,” even when their terms are clearly wrong. These are fine tools, and they are testaments to “the creative richness of a tradition of thought” but like any tool they have their limitations. Just as any particular hammer or screwdriver is not suited to any and every job that calls for a hammer or screwdriver, respectively, neither is every classification system or subject description language suitable for every job to which they might be applied.

These are somewhat tentative thoughts in that I imagine they could be said better, and that much more could be said. They are not tentative in the sense that they are metaphorical. Please do not fall into the orthodox linguistic view of metaphor as an aberrant kind of meaning. Far more is metaphorical than most can even begin to imagine, much less comprehend. Without metaphor meaning could not even begin to exist in anything close to what we know it as. Even analytic philosophers and logicians with their seriously impoverished views of meaning could not get started as their way of imagining meaning is itself metaphorical.

For my own CAS purposes: These ideas also mesh with Hjørland’s views on domain analysis, subject expertise, epistemological priority, and so on.

Hutton, Christopher. 1998. Law Lessons for Linguists? Accountability and Acts of Professional Classification. In Harris, Roy, and George Wolf, eds. Integrational Linguistics: A First Reader. 1st ed, Kidlington, Oxford, UK: Pergamon, 1998.

Morris, Marshall. 1998. What Problems? On Learning to Translate. Also in the above.

Some things read this week, 18 – 24 November 2007

Sunday, 18 Nov

Norman, Richard. “Holy Communion.” Eurozine [First published in New Humanist 6/2007].

Discusses New Wave Atheism and how it is aggressively antagonistic to religion, which is the wrong way to proceed. I most certainly agree with this.

When recent books by Dawkins, Hitchens and others began coming out I was excited at first. It was good to see that intellectuals were once again engaging with the issues of the day. But as soon as the reviews started appearing I was more appalled than anything. The overly simplistic argumentation, the selective choice of examples, and the tack taken was wrong, for many reasons.

I am what many would call an atheist. I much prefer the term agnostic, though, as that is the best I can epistemologically claim. If you like, I have faith that there is no god (or gods), except those which we create in our own likeness. But I cannot know this.

Whatever our beliefs, be they atheism, humanism, Hinduism, Catholicism, some form of Protestantism, Islamism, etc., we are all in the same boat. Many of us have the same beliefs and goals about how others ought to be treated or how the world could be. We need to work together toward these. Clearly, there are differences between people and groups of people, but aggressive differentiation serves no useful purpose.

Hjørland, Birger and Jeppe Nicolaisen. “Bradford’s Law of Scattering: Ambiguities in the Concept of “Subject.” In F. Crestani and I. Ruthven (Eds.). CoLIS 2005: Context: Nature, Impact, and Role; Lecture Notes in Computer Science 3507: 96-105.

Hjørland, Birger. “Towards a Theory of Aboutness, Subject, Topicality, Theme, Domain, Field, Content . . . and Relevance.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 52.9 (2001): 774-778.

Sunday – Tuesday, 18 – 20 Nov

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

  • Ch. 4: The Concept of Subject or Subject Matter and Basic Epistemological Positions

Monday, 19 Nov

Harris, Roy. The Language Connection: Philosophy and Linguistics. Bristol, U.K: Thoemmes Press, 1996. [Re-reading]

  • Ch. 8: Metalinguistic Improvements
  • Ch. 9: Metalinguistic Mistakes
  • Ch. 10: Metalinguistic Illusions

Monday – Tuesday, 19 – 20 Nov

Hjorland, Birger. “Information Retrieval, Text Composition, and Semantics.” Knowledge Organization 25.1/2 (1998): 16-31.

Argues for a broader—and different—view of semantics within LIS. Primarily contrasts Wittgenstein’s early “picture theory” with his later “theory of language games,” but has several useful touchpoints for shifting to a more integrationist theory.

Tuesday, 20 Nov

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

  • Postscript

Tallis, Raymond. Escape from Eden. New Humanist 118(4), Nov/Dec 2003. Found via The End of Cyberspace blog.

I know what I said—and I stand by it—about link posts but I’ve gotten more interesting links from Alex Soojung-Kim Pang’s link posts than everyone else combined.

By the way librarians, have you seen his post from 17 Nov, “Libraries as space 2.0…and early indicators of social IT trends?” He ends with the following:

But if I’m not mistaken, librarians started talking about information commons around 2001– well before Friendster, LinkedIn, and all the rest of Web 2.0 happened. I wonder what librarians are talking about these days?

Perhaps some of you can help him out with that question.

From the Tallis article which is a discussion of how it is that humans are more than just the animals that we are.

Criticising the language of the biologisers is not, however, enough. Defenders of human exceptionalism must, given our undoubted biological origins, find a ‘biological’ basis for our unique escape from biology and a ‘biological’ explanation of how we acquired the ability to run our lives — as opposed to being run by genes that happen to delude us into believing that we are running our lives. Given the relative triviality of the genotypical and phenotypical differences between ourselves and our closest primate cousins, this may seem a tall order.

Harris, Roy. Language, Saussure and Wittgenstein: How to Play Games with Words. London and New York: Routledge, 1988.

  • Ch. 1: Texts and Contexts (Tue)
  • Ch. 2: Names and Nomenclatures (Tue-Wed)
  • Ch. 3: Linguistic Units (Thu)
  • Ch. 4: Language and Thought (Fri AM)
  • Ch. 5: Systems and Users (Fri)
  • Ch. 6: Arbitrariness (Fri)
  • Ch. 7: Grammar (Sat)
  • Ch. 8: Variation and Change (Sat)
  • Ch. 9: Communication (Sat)
  • Ch. 10: Language and Science (Sat)

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.

Saturday, 24 Nov

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

  • Ch. 1: Introduction.
  • Ch. 2: The rationalistic tradition.
  • Ch. 3: Understanding and Being.
  • Ch. 4: Cognition as a biological phenomenon.