Some things read this week, 3 – 9 February 2008

Monday, 4 Feb 2008

Portrait: Charles Taylor by Ben Rogers. Prospect.

At the heart of Taylor’s thought is a critique of “naturalist” modes of thinking, whether manifest in philosophy, social science, economics or psychology. For Taylor, naturalism is the view that all human and social phenomena, including our subjectivity, are best understood on the model of natural phenomena, by using scientific canons of explanation. So wherever possible, apparently complicated social entities should be reduced to their simple component parts; social and cultural institutions and practices explained in terms of the beliefs and actions of individuals; value judgements reduced to brute animal preferences; the physical world to sense data; sense data to neurological activity and so on. Taylor believes that in the last 400 years, naturalism has fundamentally reshaped our individual and collective self-understanding. Seeing the limits of this mode of thought promises to give us a critical purchase on ourselves and our culture.

Taylor’s critique starts from the belief that you can’t understand human actions unless you make an imaginative leap into the worlds of the agents—a leap which has no counterpart in natural science. You can’t understand ethical or aesthetic values on the model of animal preferences because all human cultures give central place to some version of the distinction between “lower” appetites and higher goals by which appetites should be judged and regulated. Taylor argues, in short, that narrowly scientific, reductive approaches to the human world always prove “terribly implausible.”

I really need to look into Taylor’s views on naturalism because as much as I am a child of Big Science I, too, believe that naturalism ala Taylor is not an unmitigated good and, in fact, is quite dangerous. Science cannot, nor should it try, to explain everything.


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


Re-read ch. 7: Science and common sense.


Brachman, R.J. 1983. What IS-A Is and Isn’t: An Analysis of Taxonomic Links in Semantic Networks. Computer 16, no. 10:30-36.


For Ontology Development. This article gave me the giggles in so many places; especially in the context of my current work. With this many facets of what it is to be an IS-A relationship, much less the combination of those facets, it simply boggles the mind to think we’ll ever be able to globally represent these relationships in our statements about the/our world(s).

There are several axes along which IS-A links can vary:


  1. type of conceptual entity that a node can represent (description, set, predicate)
  2. basic syntactic function of the link (sentence-forming vs. description-forming)
  3. for sentence-forming ones:
    • quantifier (e.g., universal vs. default)
    • modality (necessity vs. contingency)
  4. does the link make an assertion (33).

Highly recommended. Not as difficult as one might think.

Tuesday – Wednesday, 5 – 6 Feb 2008



MacDorman, Karl F. 2007. Life After the Symbol System Metaphor. Interaction Studies 8, no. 1:143-158.


Found at Wikipedia via UIUC Language Evolution Group wiki back in late Sep 2007.


Wednesday, 6 Feb 2008



Bates, Marcia J. Hjørland’s critique of Bates’ work on defining information. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology.


Sent my way by Christina.

Thursday – Friday, 7 – 8 Feb 2008



Harris. The Semantics of Science. [see above]

Re-read ch. 8: Supercategory semantics.

Saturday, 9 Feb 2008



Wright, Lawrence. The Spymaster. The New Yorker. Jan. 21, 2008: 42-59.


Given to me by Pauline Cochrane as a possible job opportunity.


I am really loving the newest update to Zotero. I can now drag-n-drop citations directly from Zotero into WordPress. Talk about a serious reduction in work flow! Previously I was exporting a citation as HTML, opening the web page, viewing the source, copying the piece of HTML I needed, and then pasting it into the Code view of WordPress. Now I just drag-n-drop a citation right out of Zotero into the WYSIWYG editor of WordPress and it is automatically formatted and includes the COinS metadata. Woohoo!!

The only issue at the moment is some slightly wonky formatting in WordPress. I’m not sure if it is WordPress or Zotero causing it though. I need to play with other citation formats and see if they cause the same issues. It could be WordPress though as they seem to have changed some of their HTML formatting in the version I upgraded to last week.

Nonetheless, this is a massive improvement in functionality and will probably encourage me to actually input more stuff into Zotero in the first place.

Books Read in 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was quite a year of reading.

Books read in 2007

Dates are the dates I read the book.

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

Ambient Findability / by Peter Morville. [WorldCat]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much of it.

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

Read 12 out of 13 chapters in this book.

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

Read almost 2/3rds of this.

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

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

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

Halfway through it; my currently most active book.

Author-Date Bibliography [COinS data]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some things read this week, 25 November – 1 December 2007

NOTE: CommentPress version of LC Working Group Draft Final Report needed

Please see last entry. We really need a CommentPress install of the LC Working Group’s Draft Final Report. Can anyone do this service quickly?

Sunday – Tuesday, 25 – 27 Nov

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

  • Ch. 5: Language, listening, and commitment
  • Ch. 6: Towards a new orientation
  • Ch. 7: Computers and representation
  • Ch. 8: Computation and intelligence (Mon)
  • Ch. 9: Understanding language (Mon)
  • Ch. 10: Current directions in artificial intelligence (Tue)
  • Ch. 11: Management and conversation (Tue)
  • Ch. 12: Using computers: A direction for design

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

This is at least the 24th book I have read so far this year. I have also re-read 3 of these 24 for a 2nd time this year, too, i.e., read 3 of them 2x this year. I have (at least) 5 more that are in various states of being finished. This is a lot more books than last year, which I am happy about, but it also means that I have read fewer articles. Trade-offs are plentiful in life.

Sunday – Wednesday, 25 – 28 Nov

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

  • Ch. 4: Hypermodernism (Sun)
  • Ch. 5: Postmodern Realism (Wed)

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

Sunday, 25 Nov

Hjørland, Birger. Read half a dozen or so book reviews, encyclopedia articles and letters to the editor.

Tuesday, 27 Nov

Harel, David. Computers Ltd.: What They Really Can’t Do. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. [for LIS452]

  • Ch. 2: Sometimes we can’t do it

Hjørland, Birger. “Documents, Memory Institutions and Information Science.” Journal of Documentation 56.1 (2000): 27-41. 14 September 2007.

Stewart, Todd. “Topical Epistemologies.” Metaphilosophy 38(1), January 2007: 23-43.

This was mentioned in the list of faculty publications in the ISU Philosophy Dept. Alumni Newsletter Fall 2007 that I received today. I thought perhaps it might have something to add to the epistemological work that Hjørland recommends so highly for our field; which I agree with. I’m not sure though. Todd is focusing on something different than most of the epistemological work we need to do as librarians; although, it might well apply to the work we need to do within our own field.

…when we engage in the study of a topical epistemology what is called for is the application of our best analyses of epistemic concepts to specific subjects or, alternatively, the development of a substantive rather than a conceptual account of whether and why it is that beliefs about a specific topic are justified or unjustified. What is called for is an explanation of whether and why it is that beliefs about a particular topic are actually or possibly justified or unjustified (24-25).

An interesting issue, which I cannot address here, is that the development of a topical epistemology may be rather fruitless prior to some sort of an agreement about the correct semantic or ontological analysis of concepts or objects as they apply to a topic… (26). [Amen!!]

If you believe in the epistemological project of librarianship as much as Hjørland, myself and, hopefully, others you may find this an interesting read. Again, I see it as more applicable applied to the topics within our own field where we are allowed to, and should, pass judgement on the epistemological status of our beliefs.

Metaphilosophy was available online via the UIUC ORR. While perusing the 2007 issues of Metaphilosophy online I also found a few more interesting looking articles, including one on “intelligent collegiate depression” (ICD) that I will definitely be reading and reporting on.

Wednesday, 28 Nov

Harris, Roy. “The Semiology of Textualization.” In Harris, Roy, and George Wolf, eds. Integrational Linguistics: A First Reader. 1st ed, Kidlington, Oxford, UK: Pergamon, 1998: 227-240.

(Re-)Read another article for the 3rd time. Walrod one from MDRT.

Thursday, 29 Nov

Double, Richard. “Value and Intelligent Collegiate Depression.” Metaphilosophy 38(1), January 2007: 111-121.

American universities can be unhappy, alienating places for many students who are brighter, more sensitive, or less conformist than most of their peers (opening sentence, 111).

This one is pretty good, although I was hoping for a bit more somehow. I do think the author has a pretty good grasp of the depressive mind. I think his reply to “The Immensity of the Cosmos Objection” is pretty faulty, though. Luckily I don’t use that one myself.

If you are interested in what might well be termed “rational” responses to depression—or more generally—then please do check out this article. Do not let the journal title put you off at all; it is actually quite accessible.

Bibliographic Ontology Specification – found via this post on CSL at darcusblog. Hmmm. Interesting. I was looking at some of this stuff back in Spring 2006. I really need to learn more about RDF and be more serious about this kind of thing.

Friday – Saturday, 30 Nov – 1 Dec

LC Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control Draft Final Report.

Since I was moving so slowly (and late) Friday morning I was able to go by GSLIS and print this nicely and double-sided automatically. Started reading it at my late lunch. Read the Letter from the Working Group on the bus ride in around noon.

Read more tonight.

I have a few comments and questions, but I am liking much of what I’m reading. About halfway through it.

What we really need is a CommentPress installation of this. I really wish I could do this now, but no way possible.

I’m thinking the report must be in the public domain. LC produced. No markings on report page or report itself. If my assumption is correct then it should be allowable to do so.

I see from a comment on the Installation page by Ben Vershbow that one still needs to have a WP 2.2 install, not 2.3 yet. A comment by on paragraph 2 on 6 Nov says so.

It would so rock if someone could get the report (rapidly) into a CommentPress install. Comments are due on/before 15 December. Two weeks. Not much time.

But think of the value and it could be—should be—archived.

Anyone willing? And can. I’m willing but cannot possibly in the time before comments are due. 🙁

I really need to work with Blake (cause he rocks) and get myself a CommentPress install, but as a 2nd “blog.” There’s a couple of things that can (and should) be done. I may not be the proper one but someone must get things started. That’s for the future, though, whenever that arrives.

Some things read this week, 28 October – 3 November 2007

Sunday, 28 Oct

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

  • Ch. 4: Talbot J. Taylor. Normativity and Linguistic Form. (Sat-Sun)
  • Ch.5: Paul Hopper. The Emergence of the Category ‘Proper Name’ in Discourse. (Sun)

The Taylor chapter was particularly excellent.

Zwicky, Arnold M. and Ann D. Zwicky. “Register as a Dimension of Linguistic Variation.” In Kittredge and Lehrberger, Eds. Sublanguage: Studies of Language in Restricted Semantic Domains. Berlin: W. de Gruyter, 1982: 213-218.

Harris, Roy. The Language-makers. London: Duckworth, 1980. [Re-reading]

  • Ch. 1.
  • Ch. 2

Harris, Roy, and George Wolf, eds. Integrational Linguistics: A First Reader. 1st ed, Kidlington, Oxford, UK: Pergamon, 1998.

  • Ch. 5: Toolan, Michael. A Few Words on Telementation.

Monday, 29 Oct

Hampsher-Monk, Iain, Karin Tilmans, and Frank van Vree, Eds. History of Concepts: Comparative Perspectives. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1998.

  • Intro: Iain Hampsher Monk. Karin Tilmans and Frank van Vree. “A Comparative Perspective on Conceptual History – An Introduction.”
  • Ch. 1: Pim den Boer. “The Historiography of German Begriffsgeschichte and the Dutch Project of Conceptual History.”
  • Ch. 2: Reinhart Koselleck. “Social History and Begriffsgeschichte.

Downey, et. al. How to Think Like a Computer Scientist, 2nd ed. [For LIS452]

  • Ch. 17: Linked lists
  • Ch. 18: Stacks
  • Ch. 19: Queues
  • Ch. 20: Trees

Harris and Wolf, Eds. See above.

  • Ch. 6: Harris, Roy. The Dialect Myth.
  • Ch. 7: Love, Nigel. Integrating Languages.

The Love was highly similar to his other article I read last week, The Locus of Languages in a Redefined Linguistics. In fact, whole paragraphs were the same as was the gist of the argument. If I were to recommend one over the other it would be one I just read. It is shorter and perhaps even clearer.

Tuesday, 30 Oct

History of Concepts: Comparative Perspectives. See above.

  • Ch. 3: Iain Hampsher-Monk. Speech Acts, Languages or Conceptual History?

Harris and Wolf, Eds. See above.

  • Ch. 11: Farrow, Steve. Irony and Theories of Meaning.
  • Ch. 12: Taylor, Talbot J. Conversational Utterances and Sentences

Wednesday, 31 Oct

History of Concepts: Comparative Perspectives. See above.

  • Ch. 4: Hans Erich Bödeker. Concept — Meaning — Discourse. Begriffsgeschichte Reconsidered.

I’ve read 4 chapters of this book now and I’m still not really any closer to understanding what Begriffsgeschichte is. Perhaps reading one of the chapters that are supposedly examples will help. I’m not sure why I’m not getting it. Much of the writing is not very clear but then most has been translated into English also.

I only have the book for a few more days. I’ll have another look at the intro and see what I perhaps ought to read next that might help. Then I think I’ll copy 2 or 3 of the chapters I’ve already read for re-reading in the future. It seems as if something is important here but I’m not getting it right now. I’m also feeling ill again, so maybe it’s just my stupid brain not dealing with it as it should.

Harris and Wolf, Eds. See above.

  • Ch. 13: Taylor, Talbot J. Do You Understand? Criteria of Understanding in Verbal Interaction.

Thursday, Nov 1

History of Concepts: Comparative Perspectives. See above.

  • Ch. 6: Terence Ball. Conceptual History and the History of Political Thought.

López-Huertas, María J. Challenges in Knowledge Representation and Organization for the 21st Century. Integration of Knowledge across Boundaries. Proceedings of the Seventh International ISKO Conference, 10-13 July 2002, Granada, Spain. Advances in Knowledge Organization, 8 (2002).

  • Poli, Roberto. “Framing Information.” pp. 225-231.
  • Smith, Terence R., Marcia Lei Zeng and ADEPT Knowledge Organization Team. “Structured Models of Scientific Concepts for Organizing, Accessing, and Using Learning Materials.” pp. 232-239.
  • Carlyle, Allyson and Lisa M. Fusco. “Equivalence in Tillett’s Bibliographic Relationships Taxonomy: A Revision.” pp. 258-263.
  • Mai, Jens-Erik. “Is Classification Theory Possible? Rethinking Classification Reserach.” pp. 472-478.

Poli – hard to say from such a short overview but I don’t think I’m agreeing with some of his ontological thinking and/or his relationships.

Smith, et. al. – sounds very interesting but would like to see more examples.

Carlyle and Fusco – “He laughed, he cheered, he cried.” I wanted to like this paper. They point out an issue with Tillett’s original methodology, which is there to be recognized if one only reads her dissertation. And while this is an issue of method, I do not know that it really impinges much on her results. Validity of the results would be strengthened if she had done it as pointed out, but would they be different?

The aim of the revision [which is a small part of a larger revisiting of Tillett’s relationships by the authors and David M. Levy] is to suggest “that equivalence be determined syntagmatically; that is, that it be defined relative to the use of documents” (260).

They spend a fair amount of space showing that the substitutability of one document for another is context dependent; that is, based on the user’s context. I fully agree that this is the case. Sometimes edition is irrelevant to the user. It is possible that one book by an author is as good as any other by the same author for the user. These are just a few possible examples. But then they just forget about the importance of context dependency.

Equivalence relationships hold among document representations in which one or more document properties described in the representations are shared (262).

First off, that should be “ER potentially hold ….” Even then it is still too broad. And did you notice that they are talking about the equivalence of document representations and not of documents. I’ll let you read the article and figure that bit out for yourself.

While we ought to have a concept of the equivalence relationships between document representations—is that simple DC record equivalent to that full MARC record and is it equivalent to that full VRA Core record for that Corinthian amphora?—this paper is talking about the documents (broadly construed) that users want to retrieve and use based on their interactions with library catalogs and other knowledge organization tools.

And while information professional are users too, and while document surrogates are also used, this is not the type of use being primarily discussed in this article. Thus, who cares whether there are equivalence relationships between “document representations?”

Thus, their proposal to subsume Tillett’s shared characteristics relationship under the equivalence relationship is both hasty and ill-advised. It is the case that only sometimes—that is in some contexts—can documents with shared characteristics be said to be equivalent.

And I doubt that there is ever a real user’s case that would include “the movie Scrooged, based on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and the children’s picture book produced by Disney, Mickey’s Christmas Carol” (262) as equivalent documents! And even in the rare case that there was they could only be said to be so in that specific user’s context.

Considering that some of the potential shared characteristics that Tillett lists include color and size of binding, date of publication, country of publication, language, format or media (*, 27) how often are these going to truly be equivalence relationships in an actual context of use? Sure, I can dream up a context for each of them. That is not the point. The point is that items are only equivalent in the context of a user’s need and desires in that situation.

“Please Mr. Librarian, may I please have a blue book?” [I am well acquainted with patrons asking for a book by its color. But in every instance that I have ever heard of it is a specific book they are looking for and not just any book of that color.]

The overhasty subsumption of Tillett’s shared characteristics relationship under the relationship of equivalence is not a good move.

Seeing as this article is a couple of years old now I’ll have to see if I can track down anymore on their larger project of revising Tillett’s bibliographic relationships. In my spare time, of course. 🙁

* See Tillett, B. B., “Bibliographic Relationships.” In Bean & Green, Eds. Relationships in the Organization of Knowledge, 2001.

Mai – poorly edited, some bad paragraph transitions, thus hard to follow the argument at times. Perhaps a result of the format of these short articles which are, in effect, synopses of presentations and not entire “paper.” In the end, I’m pretty sure that I concur with the conclusions, which are coherently presented.

Florén, Celia. “The language of the mind: the mental discourse of the characters in Middlemarch.” In Inchaurralde, Carlos (Ed.) Perspectives on Semantics and Specialised Languages. Universidad de Zaragoza, Departamento de Filología Inglesa y Alemana, 1994: 185-195.

Friday, 2 Nov

History of Concepts: Comparative Perspectives. See above.

  • Ch. 7: Bernhard F. Scholz. Conceptual History in Context: Reconstructing the Terminology of an Academic Discipline. [Fri.-Sat.]

ISKO 7 / AKO 8

  • Fernández-Molina, J. Carlos and J. August0 C. Guimarães. “Ethical Aspects of Knowledge Organization and Representation in the Digital Environment: Their Articulation in Professional Codes of Ethics.” pp. 487-492.
  • Anderson, Jack. “Ascribing Cognitive Authority to Scholarly Documents. On the (Possible) Role of Knowledge Organizations in Scholarly Communication.” pp. 28-37.

Saturday, 3 Nov

ISKO 7 / AKO 8

  • Priss, Uta. “Alternatives to the “Semantic Web”: Multi-Strategy Knowledge Representation.” pp. 305-310.
  • García Gutiérrez, Antonio. “Knowledge Organization from a “Culture of the Border”: Towards a Transcultural Ethics of Mediation.” pp. 516-522.
  • Nair Yumiko Kobashi, Johanna W. Smit and M. de Fátima G. M. Tálamo. “Constitution of the Scientific Domain of Information Science.” pp. 80-85.

Priss reviews the successes and failures of AI and NLP as an attempt to determine what the Semantic Web might actually be able to do. Suggests that failures to date are due to the fact that these methods have failed to combine associative and formal structures. Seeing as Semantic Web structures are entirely formal (as of 2002 anyway), what are the prospects?

García Gutiérrez – much of this article is hard for me to understand. I don’t know what register or style or whatever it is mostly written in, but whatever it is is pretty much unintelligible to me. Still, I think he is saying something important. It could just be said much more simply and perhaps even shorter. The last third is fairly clear, though, and I mostly agree. It is a good reminder to us to consider other ways of viewing, categorizing, and organizing the world in mind and to construct more inclusive systems.

Luzón Marco, José. “Creative aspects of lexis in scientific discourse.” In Inchaurralde, Carlos (Ed.) Perspectives on Semantics and Specialised Languages. Universidad de Zaragoza, Departamento de Filología Inglesa y Alemana, 1994: 261-273.

Shows that the “meaning of words is negotiated and liable to constant change” even in scientific discourse (261). My only gripe with this article is that there are several references missing from the reference list. This is something I am noticing more and more. It seems especially prevalent in conference papers.

Harris, Roy. The Language-makers. London: Duckworth, 1980. [Re-reading]

  • Ch. 3.
  • Ch. 4.
  • Ch. 5.

Some things read this week, 7 – 13 October 2007

Saturday, 6 Oct

Harris, Roy, and George Wolf, eds. Integrational Linguistics: A First Reader. 1st ed, Kidlington, Oxford, UK: Pergamon, 1998.

  • Ch. 9: Hutton, Christopher. “Meaning and the Principe of Linearity.”

Sunday, 7 Oct

Green, Rebecca, Carol A. Bean and Michèle Hudon, “Universality and Basic Level Concepts.” In López-Huertas, Mariá, and International Society for Knowledge Organization. Challenges in knowledge representation and organization for the 21st century : integration of knowledge across boundaries : proceedings of the seventh international ISKO conference, 10-13 July 2002,. Würzburg: Ergon-Verlag, 2002 [Advances in Knowledge Organization v. 8]. (311-317).

Hjørland, Birger. “Principia Informatica: Foundational Theory of Information and Principles of Information Services.” In Bruce, Harry, et. a. (Eds.), Emerging Frameworks and Methods (CoLIS4), Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Conceptions of Library and Information Science, Seattle, WA, July 21-25, 2002: 109-121.

Hjørland, Birger. “Social and Cultural Awareness and Responsibility in Library, Information, and Documentation Studies.” In Nordic-International Colloquium on Social and Cultural Awareness and Responsibility in Library, Information, and Documentation Studies. Aware and Responsible: Papers of the Nordic-International Colloquium on Social and Cultural Awareness and Responsibility in Library, Information, and Documentation Studies (SCARLID). Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press, 2004: 71-91.

Harris & Wolf, Eds. See above.

  • Ch. 10: Toolan, Michael. “On Inscribed or Literal Meaning.”

Monday, 8 Oct

Hjørland, B. (2007). “Arguments for ‘the bibliographical paradigm’. Some thoughts inspired by the new English edition of the UDC” Information Research, 12(4). (Soon to be Now available at [ – link and availability updated thanks to Dr. Hjørland’s comment]

Re-read; 1st read 24 Sep 2007. This and his “Semantics and Knowledge Organization,” ARIST 41 serve as the foundation for his Research Fellow Lecture, Tuesday, 9 Oct.

Monday – Saturday, 8 – 13 Oct

Hjørland, Birger and Hanne Albrechtsen. “Towards a New Horizon in Information Science: Domain-Analysis.” JASIS 46(6): 1995, 400-425.

Thanks to all the events of the week this article took much longer to read than it should. I have, though, marked it as a “key document.” As such it will get a much closer re-reading and documenting.

If you are at all interested in domain-analysis I highly suggest reading this paper.

Somewhere during the week I also read some chapters of Zelle and Downey, et. al. for LIS452. I’m not going to worry about recording them for this week.

Not sure if I missed anything else. I am assuming that I did. I know I started a few things here and there that aren’t in here. All in all, this does capture most of my reading for this week, though.

Information; the idea


What the hell is it? What has been thought about it? How has it been theorized? In which disciplines has it been used as a concept? Do we even need it as a theoretical concept? Might we be better of without it?

It seems that I have acquired another area of deep interest. Perhaps some of you could have predicted it—based on much of what I have been reading lately—before I even admitted it to myself. Once you see this week’s upcoming “Some things read…” post—and it is only Monday—it will be fairly evident.

Sure. I meant to “go in deep” and do a bit of reading in this area as I saw fit…

“…you’ll be the keeper of your Holy Grail…”

Pavlov’s Dog. Episode. Pampered Menial.

Sorry, minor musical interlude.

…but I hadn’t quite intended to head so far down the path. Honestly, I think pretty much everyone in our field ought to be seriously concerned with information as a concept. Reading an article or two (Buckland, probably) is simply not enough; as canonical (and good) as they may be.

I forced my way through Raber’s The Problem of Information and tracked down and read many of his very productive sources. If only his book read as well as some of the sources.

While reading Raber I serendipitously stumbled across (that is, I picked the print journal up off the shelf to leaf through) an article by Birger Hjørland in JASIST 58 (10) 2007. I commented on this article, which is a critique of a concept of information put forth recently by Marcia Bates, in my “Some things read this week, 5 – 11 August 2007” post.

Imagine my utter surprise and absolute delight when cleaning out the spam caught by Akismet a few days ago (1 Sep) to find a comment from Dr. Hjørland. He suggested that I send a letter to the editor of JASIST outlining my critique of his view to which he might offer a rejoinder. Wow!

Note: A proper theory of information needs to account for why a comment full of links about licking … ,well, you get the idea, gets through to moderation but a comment from one of our leading researchers with no links gets caught by the spam filter. [Although, perhaps not a theory of information for LIS.]

Lesson to the less “important” among us to check our spam filters and not just automatically trash everything.

As it is, my critique is only of one very small part of his paper. It is also an idea that I have read in many places, and has direct corollaries in other views within theories of information.

That is, that information is that which answers a question (his use) or it is that which reduces uncertainty. I maintain that information can just as often and easily cause an increase in uncertainty and/or generate more questions than it answers, if it even answers any.

In fact, if information did not cause uncertainty or generate questions, would we not quickly satisfy all of our information needs? Whoa! Sorry, just finally verbalized that. Is this so patently obvious that it is rarely acknowledged in our theories?

Anyway, I may well end up doing my bibliography on the concept of information in LIS. So much for doing something that I already have a lot of work done in. Oh well, I’m well on my way as it is.