The Profession’s Models of Information – some comments

Green, R. (1991). The Profession’s Models of Information: A Cognitive Linguistic Analysis. Journal of Documentation, 47(2), 130-148.

I read this at the coffee shop one morning a couple of weeks ago and, as usual, was quite impressed. She shows that a model of communication is mandatory for information science but that one of information seeking is optional. She also critiques the overuse of ‘information’ and makes the “radical suggestion” that we need a whole new language for library and information science (143). Yes, yes, and yes! [Was cited by Dick 1995; see below for citation. Or this blog post: 2 articles by Archie Dick]

Based on a linguistic analysis of phrases including the word ‘information,’ randomly sampled across a 20-year period from Library & Information Science Abstracts (LISA: 1969-Sep 1989), “establishes three predominant cognitive models of information and the information transfer process” (130, abstract).

Outline of article:

  • Introduction
  • Related Cognitive Models
  • Method
  • Results
  • Analysis
    • Focus of models
    • Compatibility of models
    • Direct communication model
    • Indirect communication model
    • Information-seeking model
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions
  • Appendix A
    • A. Direct communication (DC) model
    • B. Indirect communication (IC) model
    • C. Information-seeking (IS) model
  • Appendix B. Syntagms evoking general frames
  • References

Introduction

In trying to determine the cognitive models within the field the author made two basic assumptions: “(1) the literature of a field incorporates the cognitive models common to the discipline; and (2) linguistic analysis can be used to ferret out what those models are” (131).

Related Cognitive Models

Green discovered three models, two of which take the perspective of the information system and one which takes the perspective of the information user. The first two fall under the critique of

“the traditional paradigm of information transfer criticised by Dervin. In what she refers to as a positivistic or information-theoretic framework, information is perceived as a self-existent and absolute entity, independent of human minds. Information is stored within a variety of types of information systems, which users may approach in order to extract information relevant to their needs” (132).

Method

Pointing out that the phenomena of the information transfer process “is the key event around which library and information science is built,” Green states that

“If the positivistic model of information transfer observed by Dervin is truly representative of the thinking of the profession and if that mode of thinking is as dysfunctional as Dervin suggests (which, no doubt it is), library and information science educators and researchers would have some serious overhauling and restructuring of their cognitive models to accomplish” (132-33/133).

I adore her all over again for that “which, no doubt it is” aside.

There are a couple limitations of the method used that are listed (134). One of them, which is only a possible limitation or less of one than is suspected, would be partially answered if this study were repeated for the period 1990-2010. I would love to see that comparison.

Analysis

As one can guess from the outline of the article above, the three models found are: Direct communication (DC) model, Indirect communication (IC) model, and the Information-seeking (IS) model (135). I will leave it to the interested reader to delve further into this paper on their own if they are interested in these models and the specific support found for them via Dr. Green’s analysis.

Discussion

“As noted previously, communication models and information-seeking models are not inherently incompatible. Given that information transfer is the basic phenomenon around which library and information science revolves, the discipline must have a model of communication from information source to information user. Since the information user is often the initiator of the information transfer, we may have (and in general we would like to have) information-seeking models, too. Thus, a model of communication is mandatory; a model of information-seeking, although desirable, is theoretically optional. The upshot of this recognition is that the discipline’s models of communication are more crucial than its model(s) of information-seeking. … Sadly, our models of communication provide little insight as to how information transfer is actually effected” (141, empahsis mine).

While I will leave the concept of “information transfer” stand for now, this idea of a “transfer” is also to be rejected. Nonetheless, whatever fills the role of this so-called “information transfer” will still be “the key event around which library and information science is built” (132-33). Thus, a proper theory of communication is the basis for all that we do in library and information science, whether theory or practice.

Did the information-seeking model that was discovered accomplish its aims? No, it did not. Although ostensibly focused on the user, the IS model still emphasized the information system far too much, along with paying more attention to quantity vs. quality of the information retrieved (recall vs. precision) (141-42).

The issue is that

“the cognitive models of the user are not considered. Moreover, the cognitive models embodied in the information retrieved are also ignored; the relevance of information to a user’s need is defined solely in terms of shared ‘aboutness’, without respect to compatibility of underlying cognitive frameworks. Consequently, matching information retrieved to information needed is perceived mechanistically” (142).

This provides a an exceptional argument for domain analysis and a focus on epistemological relevance and viewpoint. Just because some source is ‘about’ a topic does not mean it will meet the needs of a user; any user much less a specific user.

The next paragraph warmed my heart to no end:

“Unfortunately, such a view of information retrieval, which is in the same vein as the positivistic or information-theoretic framework as criticized by Dervin, is, one may argue, built into our understanding of the word ‘information’. … This leaves us with the question why we have adopted such heavy use of the word ‘information’ throughout our discipline when the cognitive models associated with it are in at least some respects incompatible with what we are trying to accomplish” (142).

Conclusions

“Shortcomings discovered in the analysis … highlight the areas where our focus of research should be: the cognitive structures of texts; and how readers perceive them, re-mould them, and integrate them with the cognitive models they possessed at the outset of the interaction” (142, emphasis mine).

The question of integration is actually the foundation of all of these questions, as it is of the question of communication.

“A second recommendation stems from the observation that the word ‘information’ predisposes us to think of the retrieval process in a mechanistic sense, which goes counter to our modern understanding of how the process should be viewed. (Ironically, the word ‘retrieval’ also carries this bias.) … The recommendation offered here is a radical one: we need to change the basic inventory of words we use to communicate about our field. We should be more concerned with learning and knowledge than with retrieval and information” (142-43).

Change our language? Yes, yes, yes!

This article provides me the following:

  • A theory of communication is mandatory for LIS
  • A theory of comm is prior to a theory of information-seeking
  • An argument for domain analysis and epistemological considerations
  • A critique of ‘information’ as the basis for my discipline
  • A call to radically change our language within the field

Dick, A. (1995). Restoring Knowledge as a Theoretical Focus of Library and Information Science. South African Journal of Library & Information Science, 63(3), 99.

Casual-leisure Searching – some comments

Wilson, M. L., & Elsweiler, D. (2010). Casual-leisure Searching: the Exploratory Search scenarios that break our current models. In Proceedings of the Fourth Workshop on Human-Computer Interaction and Information Retrieval, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, 22 August 2010. Presented at the HCIR 2010, New Brunswick, N.J. Retrieved from http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/ryenw/hcir2010/docs/HCIR2010Proceedings.pdf

When clearing out my aggregator a couple weeks back I came across this article in ResourceShelf (29 August 2010). It is a short, 4-page article which I printed and read on casual-leisure searching.

It appears to be a preprint from an ACM journal but the real info is lacking. I did some Google Scholar and Google searching and determined it to have been a presentation from HCIR 2010 last month. Daniel Tunkelang’s blog was most helpful, even including having the presentation embedded and linking to the mentioned Technology Review article, “Searching for Fun.”

Fourth Workshop on Human-Computer Interaction and Information Retrieval 22 August 2010

Update: The entire proceedings are available as a (big) pdf from the HCIR 2010 site: Proceedings [pdf: 18.2 MB]  Hmmm, Zotero linked to the entire proceedings; when/how did that happen? The individual article pdf is linked in the 1st paragraph (the one after the citation).

I also found a copy of the preprint at the first author’s uni site.

Casual-Leisure Searching

It turns out that, in fact, it is not only librarians who like to search. Some folks do it just to do it. The authors work in the realm of “exploratory search” and based on two different studies they have done have noticed that information retrieval (IR,) information seeking (IS), exploratory search (ES), and Sensemaking models are all incomplete.

“ES is defined as trying to resolve an information need when the searcher has limited knowledge of their goal, domain, or search system [13], normally involving some kind of learning or investigating behaviour [9]” (28).

They provide a very quick overview of these models and how they assume an information need, and that searching occurs to find information. They then discuss personal tasks versus the work-based focus of most of the research in these areas. Stebbins work on non-work and leisure activities in brought in, situating these activities as hedonistic. The area of the least research on information behavior, especially information seeking, is in this arena of casual-leisure. Some of this is now occurring and they do point to the work of Jenna Hartel and others.

All of these previous models are information-focused but in their work they are beginning to see searching for its own sake.

They did a study on TV-based casual information behaviors and one on harvesting real search tasks from Twitter. This is preliminary work but it is exciting. In the TV-based study they were able to look at both behavior and motivation. One might, if a hard-headed enough nit-picker, describe the behavior as still “wanting to find” but it is the motivation that shows the behavior is tending towards search without finding. These folks still, to me, wanted to find something. But their criteria was so loose that, perhaps, many different things could satisfy what they were looking for.

To me, it is the 2nd study, of Twitter, that shows the most promise in expanding our views, and theories, of search. One could get in a huff and say this is only browsing, except that under the previous models browsing is still assumed to be goal-directed and that it is browsing for something.

Have you ever found yourself endlessly browsing etsy.com, or ted.com, or just sort of leisurely following hyperlink after hyperlink to suddenly notice that 2 hours have elapsed? That sort of browsing or searching has no real goal except to pass the time and, as they note, this can be either a good thing or a not so good thing. But often we do just do this for the experience of it. And I must say that this is one of the few current uses of “experience” that I can get behind. People do, in fact, sometimes search for the experience of it. There is no goal except to pass the time, hopefully in a reasonably enjoyable and non-frustrating manner. But other than that, what is found is of no consequence.

This is another area of daily, mundane, life that as usual until recently has been neglected in science—social or otherwise. Info seeking research began by studying scientists and then corporate work life. Eventually studies of nurses, children, janitors, etc. came along but they were still generally work task related. Only recently has the personal, casual, leisure angle begun to be explored. Now that it is the lack of coverage of our models is beginning to show. Even the more recent exploratory search aspect of information seeking is limited in the same way.

Those who claim that “it is only librarians who like to search, everyone likes to find” are, and always were, wrong.

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, 16 – 22 March 2008

All week

DeLillo, D. (1986). White noise, Contemporary American fiction., 326. New York: Penguin Books.

 

I didn’t say it. The computer did. The whole system says it. It’s what we call a massive data-base tally. Gladney, J. A. K. I punch in the name, the substance, the exposure time and then I tap into your computer history. Your genetics, your personals, your medicals, your psychologicals, your police-and-hospitals. It comes back pulsing stars. This doesn’t mean anything is going to happen as such, at least not today or tomorrow. It just means you are the sum total of your data. No man escapes that (141, emphasis mine).

 

They travel through the air. What like, birds? Why not tell them magic? They travel through the air in magic waves. What is a nucleotide? You don’t know do you? Yet these are the building blocks of life. What good is knowledge if it just floats in the air? It goes from computer to computer. It changes and grows every second of every day. But nobody actually knows anything (149, emphasis mine).

Swift, J. (1996). Gulliver’s travels (Unabridged [ed.].). Mineola N.Y.: Dover Publications.

 

My little Friend Grildrig; you have made the most admirable Panegyrick upon your Country. You have clearly proved that Ignorance, Idleness, and Vice are the proper Ingredients for qualifying a Legislator. That Laws are best explained, interpreted, and applied by those whose Interest and Abilities lie in perverting, confounding, and eluding them. I observe among you some Lines of an Institution, which in its Original might have been tolerable; but these half erased, and the rest wholly blurred and blotted by Corruptions. It doth not appear from all you have said, how any one Perfection is required towards the Procurement of any one Station among you; much less that Men are ennobled on Account of their Virtue, that Priests are advanced for their Piety or Learning, Soldiers for their Conduct or Valour, Judges for their Integrity, Senators for the Love of their Country, or Counsellors for their Wisdom. As for yourself (continued the King) who have spent the greatest Part of your Life in travelling; I am well disposed to hope you may hitherto have escaped many Vices of your Country. But, by what I have gathered from your own Relation, and the Answers I have with much Pains wringed and extorted from you; I cannot but conclude the Bulk of your Natives, to be the most pernicious Race of little odious Vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the Surface of the Earth (92-93).

Reading these two satires on the so-called civilized world and commentaries on the human condition at the same time is a most rewarding experience, despite the centuries that lie between them. While they may be addressing different aspects of these topics they are still highly complementary.

Tuesday, 18 Mar 2008

Shiga, J. (2007). Bookhunter, 1. Portland, Or.: Sparkplug Comic Books.

 

I don’t read many graphic novels but this was kind of cute. The idea of gun-toting, radioactive dye tracing, SWAT team-like book hunters is kind of funny.

 

Well, as long as one doesn’t dwell on it too much.

 

Highly recommended. Very fast read.

Wednesday – Saturday, 19 – 22 Mar 2008

 

Cataloging Policy and Support Office. March 15, 2007. Library of Congress Subject Headings. Pre- vs. Post-Coordination and Related Issues. Report for Beacher Wiggins, Acquisitions & Bibliographic Access Directorate, Library Services, Library of Congress.

 

Found at Cataloging Futures.

 

Saturday, 22 Mar 2008

 

The León manifesto. (2007)., Knowledge Organization, 34(1), 6-8.

 

Some things read this week, 9 – 15 March 2008

Sunday, 9 Mar 2008

Smith, L. C. (1981). ‘Memex’ as an image of potentiality in information retrieval research and development In , Proceedings of the 3rd annual ACM conference on Research and development in information retrieval (pp. 345-369). Cambridge, England: Butterworth & Co.

Linda cited this article when talking about her research on a panel discussion we had in our subject access/analysis seminar. Linda Smith, Dave Dubin, and Oksana Zavalina (Ph.D. student) were asked about how “subject” impacts on their research area(s). Oksana was representing the IMLS Digital Collections and Content team.

What modes of subject access they use. Search strategies. Changes they’d like to see. Search and navigation features needed. Differences between human and machine relevance assessments. Etc. We did not get to all of them, but did some interesting deviating from the ones presented to them. It was a nice discussion.

Below is what Linda wrote about her article on the handout she provided. We also discussed it some and this idea of “non-verbal representation of subjects” and “concept symbols” was intriguing.

Cited documents as concept symbols; most citations are the author’s own private symbols for certain ideas he uses; where documents are frequently cited, their use as concept symbols may be shared.

When I first finished it I was disappointed and did not think this is what the article really said, although these claims are made within. After a few days and making some of the known context explicit in my mind, I have relented.

It is interesting in other ways, too. And I have heard Linda mention this article a few other times; usually in the context of Bush, though.

Monday, 10 Mar 2008

Aitchison, J. (2003). Linguistics, Teach yourself. (6th ed), 257. Chicago, Ill: McGraw-Hill.

 

  • Ch. 16 : seeking a suitable framework
  • Ch. 17 : trouble with transformations
  • Ch. 18 : back to basics (Tue)
  • epilogue (Tue)
  • further reading (Tue)

 

Rosenberg, V. (1974). The scientific premises of information science, Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 25(4), 263-269.

 

Cited by Smith, L. C. (1981) [see above] as “… urges information science researchers to pay more attention to the social, cultural and spiritual aspects of human communication” (353).

 

 

Critiques what he calls the “gestalt of the computer.”

 

Most of the research done to date in information science has been done in what we can broadly call the tradition of Newtonian mechanics. In this tradition the world and man are perceived to be essentially mechanistic (264).

 

Because information science has been so closely linked to the computer, the device has thoroughly colored our view of what information is and how people use it. Broadly speaking, the computer has caused us to view human information processing as analogous to machine processing. The success of this approach is similar to that Kuhn describes with regard to obsolete paradigms (such as Newtonian mechanics) (264).

 

He combines these with a behaviorist psychology as “the basic components of the paradigm underlying information science” (265), which he then critiques.

 

I believe that the essentially reductionist view of man which emerges from the “gestalt of the computer,” is ultimately demeaning to man, is scientifically counter productive, and it is arrogant. Nevertheless, I am not suggesting that all the work that has been done in replicating human intellectual behavior using computers is of no practical value. … However, as a basic principle for understanding, scientifically understanding, the nature of information and its use, the paradigm is of extremely limited value (265-266).

 

Since I have just stated, with an overweening arrogance of my own, that the fundamental premises on which information science is currently based are all wrong, I must support this conclusion (266, emphasis mine).

 

The computer carries with it a set of values—scientific values. These values are basically deterministic, reductionist and mechanical. The paradigm specifically inhibits serious consideration of concepts that are social, cultural or spiritual (266).

 

The problem here is not the direct, tangible harm that the information system does to a specific individual. Rather it is the image of man inherent in it (267).

 

We must begin to pay more attention to the social, cultural and spiritual aspects of human communication [the point Linda cites]. We must recognize that what a man says or writes is not simply the additive sum of the phonemes or the morphemes, the words or sentences he utters. To deal effectively with the transcendent qualities of human communication we must admit as evidence the intuitive, the subjective, and the experiential (268).

 

I love this guy! And considering this was published in 1974 I love him even more. I think he is heading to the right point but he isn’t quite there yet. There simply is no communication without the experiential. To communicate is to experience.

 

Harris, R. (1996). Signs, language, and communication : integrational and segregational approaches. London; New York: Routledge.

  • Preface
  • Ch. 1 : The study of communication
  • Ch. 2 : Before communication

 

Tuesday – Wednesday, 11-12 Mar 2008

 

Park, J. (2007). Evolution of concept networks and implications for knowledge representation, Journal of Documentation, 63(6), 963-983. doi: 10.1108/00220410710836466.

 

Wednesday, 12 Mar 2008

 

 

Abel-Kops, C. P. (2008, January 1). “Just where’s the damn book?,” or, rediscovering the art of cataloging. Retrieved March 10, 2008, from http://eprints.rclis.org/archive/00012940/.

 

Saturday, 15 Mar 2008

 

DeLillo, D. (1986). White noise, Contemporary American fiction., 326. New York: Penguin Books.

 

It’s Spring Break so I began re-reading this.

The encounter put me in the mood to shop. … Babette and the kids followed me into the elevator, into the shops set along the tiers, through the emporiums and department stores, puzzled but excited by my desire to buy. When I could not decide between two shirts, they encouraged me to buy both. … They were my guide to endless well-being. … My family gloried in the event. I was one of them, shopping, at last. (DeLillo, 83).

I shopped for its own sake, looking and touching, inspecting merchandise I had no intention of buying, then buying it. … I began to grow in value and self-regard. I filled myself out, found new aspects of myself, located a person I’d forgotten existed (DeLillo, 84).

I adore this book. This is my first re-read after reading it once and then analyzing its lived morality in an academic essay. I am trying to read it slowly and savor it this time; there is something distinctly not slow about DeLillo’s prose in this work, though.

Some things read this week, 2 – 8 March 2008

Sunday, 2 Mar 2008

Toolan, M. J. (1996). Total speech: an integrational linguistic approach to language, Post-contemporary interventions., 337. Durham, N.C: Duke University Press.

  • Read Ch. 4: Further Principles of Integrational Linguistics, or, On Not Losing Sight of the Language User

 

Sunday – Friday, 2 – 7 Mar 2008

 

Aitchison, J. (2003). Linguistics, Teach yourself. (6th ed), 257. Chicago, Ill: McGraw-Hill.

  • Ch. 1: what is linguistics?
  • Ch. 2: what is language?
  • Ch. 3: the study of language (Mon)
  • Ch. 4: deciding where to begin (Mon)
  • Ch. 5: sound patterns (Mon)
  • Ch. 6: words and pieces of words (Tue)
  • Ch. 7: sentence patterns (Tue)
  • Ch. 8: meaning (Tue)
  • Ch. 9: using language (Wed)
  • Ch. 10: language and society (Wed)
  • Ch. 11: language and mind (Wed)
  • Ch. 12: language and style (Thu)
  • Ch. 13: language change (Thu-Fri)
  • Ch. 14: comparing languages (Fri)
  • Ch. 15: attitudes towards change (Fri)

This book is great fun. Not great fun as in to read it, but as in to make fun of it and to explicitly see how strictly orthodox and, thus, simplistic (and wrong) textbooks and textbook-like texts are as they follow the party line.

Here’s a nice absurdity:

In fact, it is quite impossible for anybody to form sentences and understand them unless they realize that each one has an inaudible, invisible structure, which cannot be discovered by mechanical means such as counting (20).

All I can say to that is “Seriously, what the hell!” So a 5-year-old child learning their native (or even a 2nd) language must “realize” that each sentence “has an inaudible, invisible structure” before they can form or understand any sentence in their language? What kind of idiot makes a claim like that?

Human bigotry gets us this comparison:

Human language is innately guided. Human infants are not born speaking, but they know how to acquire any language to which they are exposed. They are drawn towards the noises coming out of human mouths, and they instinctively know how to analyze speech sounds. Bees present a parallel case: they are not born equipped with an inbuilt encyclopedia of flowers. Instead, they are pre-programmed to pay attention to important flower characteristics … (21-22, emphasis mine).

Humans know, bees are programmed. What a crock! This may be the opposite of anthropomorphizing, but it is just as bad.

Thursday, 6 Mar 2008

Solomon, P. (2002). Discovering information in context, Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, 36(1), 229-264. Retrieved March 6, 2008, from http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/aris.1440360106.

Friday, 7 Mar 2008

Ellis, D. (1992). The physical and cognitive paradigms in information retrieval research, Journal of Documentation, 48(1), 45-64.

 

Saturday, 8 Mar 2008

Sundin, O., & Johannisson, J. (2005). The instrumentality of information needs and relevance. In F. Crestani & I. Ruthven (Eds.), Context: Nature, Impact, and Role: 5th International Conference on Conceptions of Library and Information Sciences, CoLIS 2005, Glasgow, UK, June 4-8, 2005 ; Proceedings, Lecture notes in computer science., 3507 (p. 250). Berlin: Springer.

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.

Some things read this week, 27 January – 2 February 2008

Sunday, 27 Jan 2008

Nonmonotonic Logic. Leora Morgenstern. MIT Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science.

Suggested by fellow classmate Tom Dousha for additional elucidation for Ontologies Development. Highly understandable resource for non-experts in logic, although having a basic grasp probably helps.

Sunday – Wednesday, 27 – 30 Jan 2008

Harris, Roy, and International Association for the Integrational Study of Language and Communication. 2006. Integrationist Notes and Papers : 2003-2005. Crediton, Devon, England: Tree Tongue http://www.librarything.com/work/details/26156294 (Accessed January 26, 2008). Discover UIUC Full Text
[more info here] [WorldCat]

  • 6 : Synchrony and Diachrony
  • 7 : Integrationism and Philosophy of Language
  • 8 : On Determinancy of Linguistic Form
  • 9 : Integrationism and Arbitrariness (Tue)
  • 10 : Integrationism and Etymology (Tue)
  • 11 : Signs and Stories (Tue)
  • 12 : Meaning and Experience (Tue)
  • 13 : On Holistic Models of Language (Wed)
  • 14 : Integrationism and the Foundations of Mathematics (Wed)
  • 15 : Integrationism and Godspeak (Wed)

I believe this is the 1st book I have finished this year.

Thursday, 31 Jan 2008

Markey, Karen. Users & Uses of Bibliographic Data. [paper presented in lieu of her attendance at the 1st LC Working Group Meeting, March 8, 2007]

This is a very interesting statement that ought to be taken seriously. Once we see the data in the forthcoming article: Markey, Karen. In press. 25 years of research on end-user searching. Journal of the American Society for Information Science & Technology.

One should check … actually it was published in two parts in JASIST 58(8), June 2007: 1071-1081 and 1123-1130.

Markey, Karen. (2007) Twenty-five years of searching, Part 1: Research findings.

Markey, Karen. (2007) Twenty-five years of searching, Part 2: Future research directions.

Downloaded the pdfs and imported the data into Zotero. Will need to read them soon.

Looks like Wiley-Interscience is making some improvements on the ASIST Digital Library. Whoever is responsible, thank you.

Friday – Saturday, 1 – 2 Feb 2008

Harris, Roy. 2005. The Semantics of Science. London: Continuum. Discover UIUC Full Text

Re-read Chap. 6 : Mathematics and the language of science

Another rather light week as I was trying to finish my Harris and Hjørland bibliography and essay by Thursday. I did make this deadline thankfully. In the end, neither are what I was particularly envisioning. They really area far cry from what I thought I was aiming for; which leaves me quite ambivalent about it.

I most certainly did not give “just a school assignment” to Dr. Krummel as one simply does not do such things. But in some ways it does seem as if I am far closer to that end of the spectrum than what I wanted to be.

Thus, I don’t know if or when I will post any of it. I have a hard time imagining anyone would actually be very interested in any of it. This is not to say that I think no one should be interested in the topic, whether or not they care what I might have to say about it, but that I just don’t think that many are. If you truly do care I will happily email you the 2 small Word docs. By the way, at 1097 words the essay is far shorter than many of my blog posts. The bibliography has 34 entries in the final count, I believe; there could have been so many more. It is a tad over 13 pages and is 4115 words. Both are definitely much shorter than my natural bent.

But. It is done. So it is time to move forward now.

Today [Sunday, 3 Feb] is the 3rd day of Birthday Month. This year’s Birthday Month—which I intend to attempt to celebrate to the max—is off to a good start. It was welcomed in with a decent snow storm on the 31st-1st; I am a Midwestern, mid-Winter baby so one must have a decent winter storm once during Birthday Month.

There has been a couple decent movies this weekend after finishing the bibliography stuff. I watched Balls of Fury which is pretty good as a ping pong cum-kung fu movie. I also watched Once but I am really ambivalent about the movie. I am better disposed to it after watching all of the extras, but extras should not determine what we think of a movie and perhaps only deepen our understanding and/or appreciation of it.

One that I will highly recommend, though, is the French movie, Blame it on Fidel! This was an very good movie and the kids who star in this movie are simply incredible. Watch the extras and this feeling can only deepen. There is a pretty good description at IMDB but I think it also contains a spoiler about the end of the movie. Perhaps it is not a major spoiler but I certainly am glad I hadn’t read it before watching the movie. Highly recommended.

Some things read this week, 20 – 26 January 2008

Sunday, 20 Jan 2008

Hjørland, B., & Albrechtsen, H. (1995). Toward a New Horizon in Information Science: Domain-Analysis. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 46, 400-425.

Re-read for bibliography.

Monday, 21 Jan 2008

Liddy, Elizabeth D. “Natural Language Processing for Information Retrieval and Knowledge Discovery.” In Clinic on Library Applications of Data Processing, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 1998. Visualizing Subject Access for 21st Century Information Resources. Eds. Pauline A Cochrane and Eric H Johnson. Champaign, IL: Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. [WorldCat]

Busch, Joseph A. “Building and Accessing Vocabulary Resources for Networked Resource Discovery and Navigation.” In Clinic on Library Applications of Data Processing, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 1998. Visualizing Subject Access for 21st Century Information Resources. Eds. Pauline A Cochrane and Eric H Johnson. Champaign, IL: Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. [WorldCat]

Fugmann, Robert. “Obstacles in Progress in Mechanized Subject Access and the Necessity of a Paradigm Change.” In Wheeler, William J, ed. 2000. Saving the Time of the Library User Through Subject Access Innovation: Papers in Honor of Pauline Atherton Cochrane. Champaign, IL: Publications Office, Graduate School of Library and Information Science. [WorldCat]

Only about halfway through; good so far, but somewhat difficult, and longer than the other 2 combined.

This and previous 2 for Subject Access and Subject Analysis seminar.

Tuesday, 22 Jan 2008

Finished reading Fugmann. What a torturous writing style; but some important things are said. Lots of contact with both Hjørland and Integrationism.

Several things for Ontologies [Sorry. Bring lazy here, or conserving my time. If you are interested in what we are reading early on for Ontologies I will send you a list.]

Wednesday – Thursday, 23-24 Jan 2008

Harris, Roy. 2005. The Semantics of Science. London: Continuum.

  • Re-read ch. 4: Science in the kitchen

This chapter is about the connections (if any) between everyday discourse and scientific discourse. Discusses continuity theories (“… science has both feet on the terra firma of empiricism” 81) and discontinuity theories (“… sharp distinction between the language of science and non-scientific discourse” 81); these, of course, conflict. Reocentric semantics is the reason these integrational problems arise, as “[i]t is typical of reocentric semantics to conflate questions about meanings with putative descriptions of realia” (81-82).

Some of the assorted antagonists in this chapter include: Aristotle, Harré, Adam (Genesis), Medawar, Tarski, Wittgenstein, Whewell, Einstein, Carnap and Popper.

Friday – Saturday, 25 – 26 Jan 2008

Harris, Roy. 2005. The Semantics of Science. London: Continuum.

  • Re-read ch. 5: The rhetoric of linguistic science

About the rhetorical topos of ‘linguistic science.’ Includes assorted linguists’ definitions of science. Discusses the “familiar haloes” of science and scientific of implied merit, reliability, and academic prestige.

Some of the assorted antagonists include: Müller, Vico, Osthoff and Brugmann, Saussure, Sapir, Bloomfield and Z. Harris.

Saturday, 26 Jan 2008

Harris, Roy, and International Association for the Integrational Study of Language and Communication. 2006. Integrationist Notes and Papers : 2003-2005. Crediton, Devon, England: Tree Tongue http://www.librarything.com/work/details/26156294 (Accessed January 26, 2008).
[more info here] [WorldCat]

I ordered this print-on-demand book from an English bookseller via abebooks.com. It contains 15 short position papers as essays. The link at “more info here” has the list of the chapters and one essay in the book online, as well as 3 more newer ones.

I adore the preface (blurb on the back only varies up to “The purpose …”):

Integrationist Notes and Papers began in 2003 as an occasional series of leaflets circulated to members of the International Association for the Integrational Study of Language and Communication. The purpose was to give a brief position statement or comment, from an integrationist perspective, on a variety of controversial issues, in order to provoke further discussion and to show that integrationism is not restricted to topics of interest solely to linguists. The word length of each item was determined by the size of an A4 sheet. The present publication reproduces the original texts, with minor corrections, in the order in which they appeared (7).

I’m guessing both sides of an A4 sheet since each is about 4 pages in this 22 cm. book, but perhaps one. Anyway, I think it’s an awesome idea. And not only since it is basically the sort of thing I need to do to see how Integrationism fits with LIS. ;)

Read:

  1. Communication: or How Jill Got Her Apple
  2. English: How Not To Teach It
  3. Texts and Contexts
  4. On Indeterminacy
  5. Time, Language and Angels

Well, it’s barely after 6 on Saturday but I’m going to post this anyway. Things to do later.