Some things read this week, 19 – 25 August 2007

Saturday evening, 18 Aug

Nhat Hanh, Thich. Peace is every step : the path of mindfulness in everyday life. New York N.Y.: Bantam Books, 1991.

Finally got back to some of this.

Sunday, 19 Aug

Three NISO standards are up for reaffirmation so I read these this morning to provide my input:

ANSI/NISO Z39.77-2001 Guidelines for Information About Preservation Products

Abstract: Specifies the information that should be included in advertisements, catalogs, and promotional material for products used for the storage, binding, or repair of library materials, including books, pamphlets, sound recordings, videotapes, films, compact disks, manuscripts, maps, and photographs.

ANSI/NISO Z39.79-2001 Environmental Conditions for Exhibiting Library and Archival Materials

Abstract: Establishes criteria to minimize the effects of environmental factors on the deterioration of library and archival materials on exhibit. Specific parameters are recommended for exposure to light, relative humidity, temperature, gaseous and particulate contaminants, display techniques, and case and support materials composition.

ANSI/NISO Z39.82-2001 Title Pages for Conference Publications

Abstract: Explains how to structure title page information for conference publications so metadata and bibliographic citations can readily access the publications. The standard applies to all disciplines, to all conferences (e.g., meetings, symposia, institutes, colloquia, workshops), and to all formats (e.g., printed documents, videos, Web sites). It applies to published conference proceedings in various manifestations (e.g., papers, abstracts, summaries) and in all languages, subjects, and formats.

Z39-77 and Z39.82 are quite interesting in that we are attempting to tell others what to do. Now, yes, if they do what we ask then it should be mutually beneficial.

Libraries are more likely to buy a company’s products if they can easily identify that it meets their needs. There are a few more benefits I could guess at but they would all be highly related to the first. Seems to be a fairly direct benefit to those wanting to sell preservation products to libraries.

The benefits to publishers/distributors of conference proceedings provided by accurate cataloging of their products by libraries seems a fair bit less direct, though. Sure. There’s the random, odd freak like me who likes to buy his own copies of these things after discovering them in the library, but I truly have to wonder what carrot we have to offer publishers to follow these guidelines. And what is the compliance rate? And then there’s the citation formats, and they do some vastly different things even when a proceedings follows this standard to the letter.

Interesting stuff, nonetheless.

Litwin, Rory (mostly). Library Juice Concentrate. Duluth, Minn: Library Juice Press, 2006.

Read the introductory matter and “Section One: Foundation Building,” which includes (all by Litwin except as noted):

  • “The Library Juice Manifesto.”
  • “Neutrality, Objectivity, and the Political Center.”
  • “Classic and Neo-Information.”
  • “Why Our Relevance Lies in Not Being Information Professionals.”
  • “Questioning the Techie Mission.”
  • “Print Virtue and the Ontology of Bo-ring.”
  • Rosenzweig, Mark. “Aspects of a Humanist Approach to Librarianship… A Contribution to a Philosophical Foundation.”

I believe that I read them all in their original manifestations (not sure about the Rosenzweig), but there is value in re-reading them. Which is to say, that there is value in them.

If I had time I would love to engage with Rory at a deeper level, particularly on “Classic and Neo-Information” and “Why Our Relevance Lies in Not Being Information Professionals,” but I doubt either of us have time for that. I do look forward to meeting and talking with this clearly deeply thinking librarian someday.

If you have not read this material before then you ought to have a look. In the case that you do not prefer to read lengthy arguments, do not worry, as all of the above fits into less than 38 pages.

I do not expect you to agree entirely; if at all. I do not agree entirely. But I guarantee that it will make you think.

In the spirit of the old Library Juice serial, I leave you with one of Rory’s “Selected Quotes of the Week”:

The more we try to get a grip on information, the more it slips through our fingers like a ghost. Information, in fact, is the ghost of meaning, and our society’s worship of the ghost signals a continuing loss of meaning. – Stephen Talbot (quoted in Library Juice Concentrate, p. 197)

Tuesday, 21 Aug

Crawford, Walt. Cites & Insights 7 (10), September 2007

Wednesday, 22 Aug

Litwin, Rory. Library Juice Concentrate. See above.

Began Section Two: Librarianship: Professional Issues. Read:

  • Litwin, R., Luis Acosta, Mark Hudson, and Margaret Myers. “Critical Discussion of the Better Salaries Initiative of Mitch Freedman’s ALA Presidency.”
  • Litwin, R. “Undone by Flattery.”

There are some interesting points made by all in the Better Salaries discussion, but I have to wonder about something Luis Acosta wrote. At least at the time (mid-2003), Alcosta seemed to firmly believe in the looming, or even then extant, shortage of librarians and crisis in recruitment. He also made a direct connection between better pay and having an adequate number of MLS students. Perhaps perceived low pay is an issue in recruitment to the profession.

My main issue is with his contention that by having a large crop of entry-level workers to go into better paid positions when the huge crop of pending retirements happens library administrators will be less willing to replace these retiring librarians with non-MLS positions or not at all.

Besides all the other factors that go into whether or not a position is filled and with whom, and the problem of replacing (mostly) upper-level positions with entry-level ones, I really am having a hard time understanding just how having to pay more is going to positively effect whether management hires someone with an MLS. Seems the opposite is more likely.

Thursday, 23 Aug

Harris, Roy, and Christopher Hutton. Definition in theory and practice: Language, lexicography and the law. London: Continuum, 2007.

Read Preface & ch. 1 “On Stipulative Definition.”

Friday, 24 Aug

Harris and Hutton. See above.

Read ch. 2 “On Definition and Common Usage” and ch. 3 “On Real Definition.”

Litwin. See above.

Finished Section Two: Librarianship: Professional Issues. Read:

  • Litwin, R. “On Google’s Monetization of Libraries.”
  • Litwin, R. “The Central Problem of Library 2.0: Privacy.”
  • “Rory Litwin interviews Barbara Tillett.”

Read all of these in their original manifestations, also.

Saturday, 25 Aug

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

Finished ch. 1 (began Thurs. eve) and read ch. 2.

Litwin. See above.

Read Section Three: Intellectual Freedom and Media Independence and began Section four: Librarians: Culture and Identity:

Litwin, R. “Four Popular Errors About Free Speech …An Attack on Complacency and Dissociation.”

Oliphant, Tami. “The Invisibility of the Alternative Media.”

D’Adamo, Chuck. “Some Alternative Press History.”

Horne, Doug. “Information-Seeking During Wartime: Reconsidering the Role of the Library in Increasing User Sell-Sufficiency.”

Litwin, R. “A Librarian’s Confession.”

Downey, Allen, Jeff Elkner and Chris Meyers. How to Think Like a Computer Scientist: Learning with Python. Green Tea Press. [Ha ha, I was drinking green tea when I read this.] Available here in assorted forms.

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

Read the final chapter, “Semiotics for Information Science.”

What can I say about this book that I haven’t already over the last few weeks? I don’t really know. Perhaps a little recap will suffice.

This is, by far, the most poorly edited book I have read in an extremely long time! This is a shame.

I feel that this is an important book and yet I cannot recommend it. Perhaps in a discussion with a specific individual and for a specific purpose I might, but otherwise no.

I am glad I read it and I would like to own a copy for future referral, but I will wait until I can find a good used copy for cheap.

Style is certainly an individual thing, but I feel this could have been written much more clearly.

In its defense, it did provide me with a long list of references to many good sources.

According to the Preface, this “book was written with beginning LIS students in mind; it should be accompanied by the reading of contemporary journal articles from the literature of information science” (vii).

I wholeheartedly disagree! Please do not inflict this book on beginning LIS students. And while I do agree that it must be read along with accompanying articles I question the use of contemporary. If this means the last 40 years (at least), then OK. If that means more like 5-8 years then No. Many of the important articles to this discussion are not exactly what I’d call contemporary, although there certainly are some.

ASIS&T 2007 Annual Meeting program posted

Thanks to Christina, I was alerted to the posting of the program for this years ASIS&T Annual Meeting in Milwaukee in Oct.

It looks really exciting! Some time slots have a lot of competition for my attention, some not so much. I also know my interests will change some between now and mid-Oct. Nonetheless, it looks like my poor brain will be overloaded with amazing amounts of information.

The full-day, Friday pre-conference, Taxonomies in Search, looks like it could be amazing but this kid doesn’t have $245 on top of conference registration!

Saturday, is the SIG/CR Classification Research Workshop pre-conference.

This half-day pre-conference on Sunday, Information Architecture 3.0 with Peter Morville looks good. But $300 for a half-day? Hahahaha. Dude, I already bought that piece of crap “find me” book of yours! People tell me Morville is a librarian; I say he is a huckster. I guess when I can charge people $600/day to hang out with me then I’ll be a professional librarian and not a minute sooner. Update: This is far too much money for me to pay, but my overly snide comments were perhaps inappropriate. My current state precludes me from deciding if they truly constitute a “nasty personal attack” or not. Either way, they were found offensive by the subject and for that I truly apologize.

On to the real conference and people more on my level:

Sunday, Oct. 21

Dang it! June Abbas is up against Michael Buckland, et. al. Tagging vs. History and foundations applied to the current situation (you know, that little bugaboo of mine).

The late afternoon session looks a little weaker as regards my interests, but crossword puzzles could be interesting.

Monday, Oct. 22

Everyday classification in the AM. Or, perhaps, live usability testing with Dorothea and others.

Early afternoon has several interesting presentations, like these folks who claim some LIS schools are teaching us about social computing, but I’m not missing danah boyd.

Late afternoon has another presentation with danah boyd, which I’m guessing jennimi will be at. An interesting presentation on personal info management by my friend, Christina Pikas. And a 3rd one on KOS Standards. Seeing as I’m on the Standards Committee ….

Tues, Oct. 23

Early AM: Kind of open at the moment, but probably this on the applications of traditional & non-traditional KM.

Mid-morning: Oh, boy! Improving Online Dating with Virtual Dates! I am so not there. Pretty much open at the moment. Break time is always good.

Mid-afternoon: Social epistemology in LIS.

Late afternoon also seems kind of open for now.

Evening: SIG CON. Woohoo! And notice, my friends, it is labeled “Tag Me!” Seems a certain rogue group had some influence last year.

Wed, Oct. 24

AM looks like tough choices: Next generation catalogs, Christina and others on blogs & wikis, or another look at Randall Kemp’s humanitarian relief organizations work and the traveling road show of Renear and Dubin on FRBR Group 1 entities in a slot entitled “Standards/Restrictions/Reinterpretations.”

I’ve heard sketches and pieces of this argument and I agree:

We examine the conceptual model of the “bibliographic universe” presented in IFLA’s Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) and argue, applying the ontology design recommendations developed by N. Guarino and C. Welty, that three of the four Group 1 entity types should be considered roles (relationships) rather than types. We then show how this analysis generalizes the solution to a previously identified puzzle in entity type assignment and is supported by John Searle’s notion of a cascade of social facts established through collective intentionality — which we take to be confirmation that this re-factoring results in a more accurate picture of the bibliographic domain. Finally we make some suggestions as to why it seemed that these entities were types rather than roles and note that in specific applications there may in fact be good practical reasons for models that treat types as roles.

Mid-morning: Plenary with Clifford Lynch.

Early afternoon: Digital natives research or social capital. Probably the 2nd since I have serious issues with most claims made about the 1st.

Late afternoon: More social capital stuff, or perhaps time to head home?

There is so much more going on and as I said my interests will shift. Dorothea will be there. I sure hope she’s staying for more than her presentation. Other friends who I’ve seen more recently than Dorothea will also be there.

I’m so excited and it’s only a little over 3 months away. Alright, GSLIS students. Time to do some serious planning!

Where I am with this semester?

590IML – Information Modeling — We got our marked exercises on conceptual modeling (ER, EER) back a couple of days ago and I was super excited to discover that I had aced it. Yay me!

I’m working on my DTD and document and got an early but nearly complete version to validate earlier today. Yay! Now I need to add an element with mixed content and maybe another attribute somewhere and then validate that. I also need to add comments for everything and then revalidate to ensure I didn’t dork anything up. I have until Monday for this.

[Right before I went to the GSLIS Holiday Party early this evening I add a mixed content section, added some mixed content to the document and validated it. I went to the party momentarily ecstatic. 🙂 Now I just have to add a few minor touches and revalidate.]

I ran into Allen yesterday and asked him about finishing the 1st assignment or what. He said just go ahead and finish it. Seems kind of silly [for various reasons], but fair, too.

590TR – Information Transfer and Collaboration in Science — I have finally found a paper topic; just a little late in the semester, which means once I get my advisor’s signature my semester will go on for just a bit longer. 🙁

My topic is, for me, a bit like climbing over the wall with the sign that says, “Here be monsters! Keep out!” Some of you might be able to guess where this is heading with all my “word issues” lately.

I am going to look at the mapping of multiple, conceptual vocabularies for use by interdisciplinary scientists. Mapping work (for various purposes) has been going on for decades now; much of it “lost,” some of it found again, much of it being redone.

The reason this “be monster” territory for me is because I have serious doubts about how well these techniques can work. I have no doubt that they can in some limited domains, but how generalizable are the techniques, intellectual or machine? Another issue is the limited number of relation types in most thesauri. Much research, in many disciplines, has gone into lexical-semantic relations. Some researchers have discovered as few as 5, 7 or 9 types of relations, while some have found as many as 400+!

I don’t know what the “real” number of relation types is, or if there even is one “true” number that holds across languages. My guess is certainly not, especially to the latter. But I am well aware that a thesaurus with only BT, NT and RT is sorely lacking in its relationships and is a poor model of the rich lexical-semantic relationship between words and concepts. But do I want to be the one coding those relationships? Hard to say, but I’m guessing ….

I also owe Carole some comments on the assigned readings for the week I led discussion since I said I would provide them.

590CS – Seminar in Classification Systems for the Organization of Knowledge — Been finished. Ha ha ha. Now that‘s funny! One is never finished with Pauline. 😉 I’m still doing thesaurus work since early summer and I’m now hip deep in CS stuff, and it seems like I will be for many a year. 🙂 So, yes, class is over and I got an A, but the work continues …. I am so blessed to be able to learn from, and be guided by, Pauline.

Dang! I need to get my coffee date scheduled.

Oh, on a non-school note, it’s official … I am a member of the ASIST Standards Committee.

Weird weather lately

Yes, Virginia, we, too, have been having unseasonably warm weather. In late November. Had to open my window last night; after turning off the heat several days ago. It’ll be in the 60s today, getting rainier, and then sleet and 20s for tomorrow. Yay! November is back.

Seriously though, we had some great weather over break. Warm, sunny and calm winds. We had at least 3 days like that. I did get to the disc golf course on Black Friday. If I had been paying attention I could have went on Thanksgiving or Sat. It’s been warm in assorted ways for even longer. Up till today, anyway.

I got in to talk with Carole about my class yesterday. It’s all good; I’ll just be taking a little longer. Carole was awesome, as usual. Discussed many of the same things as I did with Kathryn last week; this discussion was far lass abstract, though. Seems I have a better handle on how to possibly get the rest of my education restarted. I don’t necessarily have an “answer;” I have a path that may provide an answer. It feels ok.

It is odd, but I seem to be stitching together my recent past, present, and near future education into a (possibly) coherent vision. Probably the main reason the story couldn’t be constructed, much less told, was I needed to come to grips with how dichotomous it has all been and seemed, lately. I let Carole in on some of that oddness yesterday; but again, eight days later I have more of a plan.

She was great, and in advisor role, not professor. She knows me well enough to take a more long-term and growth-oriented perspective. I have been lucky to have people like Carole and Kathryn (and others) to talk to here at GSLIS.

In other news, I heard from Dr. Marcia Zeng yesterday that I am on the ASIS&T Standards Committee. Dr. Zeng is the incoming Chair of the committee.

Today I picked up a book I ordered via ILL to evaluate personally and as a possible recommendation for the LIS Library to purchase: Advance Topics in Information Technology Standards and Standardization Research, Vol. 1. / Kai Jakobs, ed., c2005. It looks like a current overview of (some) issues in standards and could be very helpful. I’ll have to have a look at the previous title, also: Information technology standards and standardization : a global perspective / Kai Jakobs, c2000.

This morning when I headed out of the house the day was just like a warm day in late November “should” be, that is, blustery, gray and overcast. It still is that way in mid-afternoon. Said cooling off is still scheduled for tomorrow morning. In fact, if it stays as currently forecast, I’ll be able to leave the window open tonight and close it when I get up tomorrow.