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

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

Sunday – Thursday, 30 Mar – 3 Apr 2008

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

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

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

Monday – Friday, 31 Mar – 4 Apr 2008

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

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

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

Highly recommended.

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

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

Friday, 4 Apr 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 5 Apr 2008

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

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

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

Same as above. Recommended.

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

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

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

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, 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.

Hjørland’s Semantics and Knowledge Organization, pt. 2

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

Originally read 18 June 2007 because it was cited by Zhang, J. (2007). Ontology and the Semantic Web. Proceedings of the North American Symposium on Knowledge Organization. Vol. 1. Available:

Re-read 28-29 Sep 2007 for two reasons: (1) Seems vastly relevant to my CAS project and (2) it is one of two articles referenced for Dr. Hjørland’s Research Fellow lecture [9 Oct 4-5 PM, Rm 126 GSLIS].

I will not be explicating this article as such here. I am going to use this post to note some of the points of contact that I noticed between Hjørland’s thoughts and Integrationism, to record and ask questions that I had and need to find an answer for, etc.

Semantics and Its “Warrant”

Theories of semantics should be formulated in ways that provide methodological implications for determining meanings and relations in semantic tools such as thesauri and semantic networks. Often such theories are not clear; this renders the theories vague and unhelpful (377).

What does i.v. say on this?

Frohmann (1983) has discussed the semantic bases and theoretical principles of some classification system. His is one of the few papers in IS to recognize that problems in classification should be seen as problems related to semantic theories (378).

Read this 19 June 2007; re-read this for an i.v. angle?

Frohmann presents two semantic theories. … According to the second, the categories to which a concept belongs must be found in the specific literature or discourse of which the associated term is a part. Consequently, the semantic relations are not given a priori, but are formulated a posteriori. This distinction has implications for classification theory (378).

Oh boy, does it ever?

Thus, a basic problem in KO is whether semantic relations are a priori or a posteriori; … (378).

This question is also related to one about the possibility of universal solutions to KO because a posteriori relations are unlikely to be universal (379).

Is there a way to incorporate both? How would be go about truly trying to incorporate a posteriori relationships?

However, it is well known that, for example, synonyms are seldom synonyms in all contexts. It thus becomes important not to think of semantic relations as simply “given,” but to ask: When are two concepts A and B to be considered synonyms ( or homonyms or otherwise semantically related?) When is a semantic relation? We should again ask the pragmatist question: What difference does it make whether, in a given situation, we choose to consider A and B as semantically related in a specific way? (379, emphases mine).

This certainly made me think of Harris (1973). What is the i.v. on “When is a semantic relation?”?

Short discussion of Ogden and Richard’s (1923) triangle of meaning/semiotic triangle (379-380). Where did I see Harris’ take on this?

Hjørland then goes on to discuss “some theoretical possibilities about the nature of concepts and semantic relations: (379):

  • Query/situation specific or idiosyncratic
  • Universal, Platonic entities/relations
  • “Deep semantics” common to all languages (or inherent in cognitive structures)
  • Specific to specific empirical languages (e.g., Swedish)
  • Domain- or discourse-specific
  • Other (e.g., determined by a company or workgroup, “user-oriented”)

Concerning Query/Situation-Specific or Idiosyncratic Semantics

In a way, it is the specific “information need” that determines which relations are fruitful and which are not in a given search session. A semantic relation that increases recall and precision in a given search [is a mighty powerful relationship!] is relevant in that situation (380-381, plus my commentary).

The pragmatic fallback is well represented in this quote:

This pragmatist point of departure is important to keep in mind in developing a theory of concepts and semantics. Semantic relations relate to a given task or situation and not all users of a given set of semantic relations will share the same view of which terms are equivalent. On the other hand, it is clear that if we base a semantic theory on an individual/idiosyncratic view of concepts and semantics, it is not possible to design systems for more than one user or situation—an absurd conclusion. We need more stable principles on which to determine semantic relations. We need a semantic theory about the meaning of words as forms of typified practices. Knowledge about semantics in typified practices may then be used by information searchers in order to include or exclude certain documents (381).

Concerning Universal, Platonic Entities/Relations

Not much to say here. Is a very short section. I will be looking at the following articles, both of which are in AKO 8:

Green, Rebecca. “Conceptual Universals in Knowledge Organization and Representation” (15-27) and Green, Rebecca, Carol A. Bean and Michèle Hudon, “Universality and Basic Level Concepts” (311-317).

I’ll also be looking at both Green, et. al. books on relationships for a refresh. You all didn’t think I had forgotten about Dr. Green, did you?

Concerning “Deep Semantics” Common to All Languages or Inherent in Cognitive Structures (A Priori Relations)

Semantic primitives in concept theory and in IS. Innate ideas (rationalistic) in semantics, facet-analytic tradition (Ranganathan) and formal concept analysis (Priss).

Although this rationalist theory dominates the literature (and is associated with the cognitive view), I do not find it fruitful for KO (384).

More talk about science, what is his view on KO in non-science areas?

Concerning Semantics Specific to Given Empirical Languages

Natural languages are structures in which the words classify the world differently (384).

Hjelmslev’s “tree” chart.

Concerning Domain- or Discourse-Specific Semantics

Although objects have objective properties, representation of those properties in languages and concepts is always more or less “subjective” or “biased” by individuals, social groups, or different cultures (385).

Objects may well have subjective properties also.

The implication is that semantic relations reflect human interests. … This does not imply that all semantic relations are domain-specific (385).

Certainly does not.

Goes on to show that we need to evaluate the literatures of specific domains or discourses to identify and analyze the different methodologies and assumptions made as an aid to determining meaning.

In this way, meanings are linked to different views, interests, and goals; accordingly, terms can be generally considered polysemous. [en 7] Attempts to standardize terminology may unwittingly suppress certain views (387).

Or wittingly suppress. See early Harris on standardization. Is also a comment on definitions and definitional change. Endnote 7 is a comment on the German tradition of Begriffsgeschichte, discussed in the section on semantic relations (en7, 396). [Need to look at this.]

Aspergum vs. Ecotrin vs. aspirin = i.v., circumstantial.

The implication of different paradigms for KO and semantics is that any bibliography of a certain size must confront conflicting ways of defining concepts and determining semantic relations (388).

There is a trade-off between being an optimal tool for the information seeker and a practical tool for the library manager. For the theory of IS, it is nonetheless important to describe the principles of designing optimal search tools (388-389). [the pragmatic fallback]

The point is that the kind of information presented here is necessary for any informed decision about classification practice. Exactly the same kind of information would be helpful for the information seeker … (389). [the macrosocial feeding the circumstantial]

Perhaps the most important task of the information professional is to make the different interests and paradigms visible so that the user can make an informed choice (390). [How does this fit within an i.v.?]

Other Kinds of Warrant

Discusses Beghtol’s (1986) article on warrant. But what about “user warrant” (390)? [Have another read of Beghtol]

Mentions oral and written sources.

Semantic Relations

Relations between concepts. senses, or meanings should not be confused with relations between the terms, words, expressions, or signs that are used to express the concepts. It is, however, common to mix both of these kinds of relations under the heading “semantic relations” (see references omitted). For this reason, synonyms, homonyms, and so forth, are considered under the label “semantic relations” in this chapter (391).

Amen! But much harder in practice to keep these straight or even to see the difference. [See preceding paragraphs to the above quote for some explication.]

On the call for richer sets of relationships in our tools and a a critique of the recall/precision view of IR:

What information searchers need are maps that inform them about the world (and the literature about that world) in which they live and act (393).

Begriffsgeschichte (is this idea of use to me?) = conceptual history.

Historians and other humanistic researchers have realized that in order to use sources from a given period, one must know what the terms meant at the time. Therefore, they have developed impressive historical dictionaries that provide detailed information about conceptual developments within different domains, … (393).

Implication of broadening the view within IS to use important work on semantic relations is that “different domains need different kinds of semantic tools displaying different kinds of semantic relations” (393). Well, this actually follows from much of the previous discussion, but this view implies that we need to look more broadly.

The “Intellectual” Versus the Social Organization of Knowledge

On citations are semantic relations:

I hold that the citing relation is in itself a kind of semantic relation. In support of this claim, I distinguish between “ontological” and social semantic relations and argue that citing relations belong to the latter (394).

Discusses further the difference between and uses of these.


The pragmatist view of semantics suggests that words and expressions are tools for interaction and their meanings are their functions within the interaction, constituting their capacities to serve it in their distinctive ways. [Integrationist] When information professionals classify documents or informational objects, the relevant meanings and properties are available only on the basis of some descriptions. This important consideration, … , stands in opposition to the prevailing implicit assumption that all relevant properties are obvious to the information specialists and that the latter follow certain given principles providing an optimal classification that is objective, neutral, and universal—hence, technically efficient (395, emphases mine).

I am not going to argue that no one thinks that way—some do—but I sure would like to put them to work on some real world projects so they can quickly learn the folly of their blindered thinking.

Traditional approaches to KO have a tighter affiliation with positivism than with the pragmatist view of semantics. … The implication is that traditional views have provided solutions that are, at best, statistical averages and thus sub-optimal (396).

No disagreement from me on this one. In fact, one could say that first sentence is what is driving me to this topic in the first place, urgently prodded along by the works of Roy Harris. And while I agree with the second sentence, what corners will need to be cut due to the pragmatic fallback? Hjørland has pointed to this himself several times in this paper; see above in a couple of places.

This is a very good paper, despite all my questioning of it. I will be spending more time with it I can assure you as it will most likely serve as a cornerstone of my CAS project. I agree with the vast majority of it, and several months back, before I had read so much Harris and related integrationist critiques, I accepted even more of it.

Citations from within this Hjørland paper:

Beghtol, C. (1986). Semantic validity: Concepts of warrant in bibliographic classification systems. Library Resources & Technical Services, 30 109-125.

Frohmann, B. P. (1983). An investigation of the semantic bases of some theoretical principles of classification proposed by Austin and the CRG. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 4: 11-27.

External citations:

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

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].

Some things read this week, 30 September – 6 October 2007

Sunday, 30 Sep

van Rijsbergen, C. J. (1986). A new theoretical framework for information retrieval. Proceedings of the Annual International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval, 194-200. Retrieved via ACM Portal.

Cited by Hjørland (2007). Semantics and knowledge organization. ARIST 41: 370.

A useful paper in that the author declares:

I have reluctantly concluded that the fundamental basis of all previous work is wrong. Almost all of the previous work in Information Retrieval (including my own) has been based on the assumption that a formal notion of meaning is not required to solve the information retrieval problem (194).

In discussing the need for a formal semantics:

That is, a document is retrieved if it logically implies the request. However, as we all know, documents rarely imply requests; there is always a measure of uncertainty associated with such an implication. And so, a notion of probable, or approximate, implication is needed …. Modelling the information retrieval process in this way goes beyond the keyword approach, and specifies, once and for all, what relationship between a document and a request is to hold to compute probable relevance (195, emphasis mine).

This is (one big) reason why computer-based IR, as good as it may become, is doomed to incompleteness. There is simply no way, no freaking way, in which anyone could ever specify, once and for all, all of the relevance relationships between documents and a request, much less specify those formally. [But, then, human-based IR faces the same problem for but for somewhat different reasons.]

He does go on to show that he does knows a bit about relevance, such as documents themselves are not, in fact, relevant to requests. And one must love the wonderfully named Logical Uncertainty Principal, which is the main product of this paper.

Peregrin, J. (2004). Pragmatism & semantics. English version of Pragmatism und Semantik. In A. Fuhrmann & E. J. Olsson (Eds.), Pragmatisch denken (pp. 89-108). Frankfurt am Main: Ontos. English version retrieved 30 Sep 2007, from

Cited by Hjørland (2007). Semantics and knowledge organization. ARIST 41: 372.

Discusses what he calls the Carnapian and Deweyan paradigms in language. The intent is to show how “the technical apparatus engendered by the Carnapian approach, with is wealth of results, can be put into the service of the Deweyan paradigm – if we liberate it from the Carnapian representationalist ideology” (3).

On Wittgenstein’s analogy to chess:

Thus the meaning of an expression can be compared to the role of a chess piece, which acquires its role of, say, a ‘knight’ by being handled according to the rules of chess (4).

But meanings and rules can be played upon; are these just alternate rules, or mis-use of the rules to another end?

Makes us of Sellars’ rules of semantics as rules of inference, which relies heavily on the primacy of sentences and on locating sentences in a logical space as propositions. But it simply is not the case that any of the bits below the sentence level have no meaning, nor that communication can not occur with sentence fragments or single words.

And the whole logical space/proposition issue is heavily positivistic! Clearly not all communication is propositional.

Such objections point out that if we start to treat formal semantics as the basis for a philosophy of language, we are likely to run into a vicious circle: we reduce philosophically problematical concepts to the seemingly perspicuous formal semantic concepts, which, however, ultimately rest on the obscure concepts to be explicated (10-11).

Amen to that!

But to place the Carnapian approach in the service of the Deweyan he falls back on possible world semantics. Gah! Can we please do away with the so-called possible worlds? Possible worlds are an supra-metalinguistic way of talking about our already common-sense, lay, metalinguistic way of discussing alternative scenarios and logical possibility and necessity. To formalize this way of talking into possible world semantics leads one easily down the path from a linguistic way of knowing (epistemology) to postulating actually existent possible worlds (metaphysics).

On the pragmatic fallback, as I am tentatively calling it (them?):

And I think that the inferentialist should realize that modeling is a very useful thing. Thus I think that although language is not literally a nomenclature or a code (as the Carnapian paradigm has it [orthodox linguistics]) it remains useful, at times, to see it as a code, just as it is often useful to see atoms as cores orbited by electrons (12).

This is a very interesting paper, but I do not think it has won me over to its way of thinking. I am concerned that we will, especially in IR, have to resort to the pragmatic fallback. But Sellars’ view is still far too positivistic and thus rules out much of what we would call communication. Perhaps this view was acceptable when libraries were the gatekeepers and we dealt only in “serious” reading material. But this is, in some respects, a new age and the past age is long past. Perhaps libraries need not worry about some of this when one considers the sorts of material that they deal with (but I doubt that!). But KO and IR is much broader than libraries. And even if KO and IR uses a sub-set of our theories of language and communication (assuming we separate them; perhaps not), we should have theories that cover all of communication and language and then explicitly pull out the bits we need. We should not be starting from a limited theory to begin with.

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


  • Introduction
  • Ch. 1: Harris, R. “Language as Social Interaction: Integrationalism versus Segregationalism.”
  • Ch. 2: Harris, R. “The Integrationist Critique of Orthodox Linguistics.”


  • Ch. 8: Harris, R. Three Models of Signification.”

I skipped ahead to chap. 8 as I want to get a handle on the integrationist view (i.v.) of meaning.

Discussion of these is going to have to wait.

Monday, 1 Oct

American Society for Information Science and Technology. Theories of Information Behavior. Medford, N.J: Published for the American Society for Information Science and Technology by Information Today, 2005.


  • Ch. 1: Bates, Marcia J. “An Introduction to Metatheories, Theories, and Models.”
  • Ch. 2: Dervin, Brenda. “What Methodology Does to Theory: Sense-Making Methodology as Exemplar.”
  • Ch. 3: Wilson, T. D. “Evolution in Information Behavior Modeling: Wilson’s Model.”
  • Theory 60: Hjørland, Birger. “The Socio-Cognitive Theory of Users Situated in Specific Contexts and Domains.”
  • Theory 2: Belkin, Nicholas J. “Anomalous State of Knowledge.”
  • Theory 5: Bates, Marcia J. “Berrypicking.”

This book looks useful enough that I ordered my own copy, with my ASIST discount of course. If you have the slightest aversion with authors referring to themselves in the third-person or heavily self-citing then you may want to skip it or take it in small doses. But the self-citation in many cases makes perfect sense as many of the authors are writing about their own theories. But the third-person stuff, especially the “Article x is clearly a most influential paper in LIS having been cited 642 times” [made up example], is simply past precious.

The book as a physical item seems to be of fairly good quality, although I do have a few gripes. Page margins are far too limited, especially the outer margins. The type face is generally readable, although a tad too small for some, but it has two features I do not like. First, and only minimally pain-inducing is the hyphen, which slants upward from left to right at about a 40 degree angle. Far worse, and especially grating since it occurs extremely frequently due to citation style and time period of most citations, is that the numeral 1 is a capital I. WTF is that? I realize that some old typewriters and perhaps early computer printers used either an “l” or an “I” for a “1”. But this book was published in 2005! Why would anyone use a type face that uses a capital I for a 1 in 2005? Information Today should be ashamed. [it also has a ridiculously long “/”.]

I primarily checked this book out to get a copy of Hjørland’s “The Socio-Cognitive Theory of Users Situated in Specific Contexts and Domains.” It will also be of immense value in the section of my paper where I critique various aspects of our field. By providing a brief overview of 72 theories in a lit review format, along with highlighting applicable research projects, the book will prove exceptionally useful.

I read the above theories to try and get a handle on how they might or might not fit in with Integrationism.

Hjørland’s use of the socio-cognitive view and domain analytic theory can, I believe, easily be given an integrationist reading. Within integrationism, the “three parameters relevant to the identification of signs within the temporal continuum” are biomechanical, macrosocial and circumstantial [Harris, see previous link]. The biomechanical and macrosocial parameters are clearly shown in Hjørland and, I believe, the circumstantial can be pulled out of the “socially constructed” easily enough.

Belkin’s anomalous state of knowledge (ASK) is explicitly cognitivist and, thus, may not translate as well. It most certainly will not fall under Hjørland’s views easily. What is his view of ASK? [Note to self to ask him; noted.]

Bates’ Berrypicking; hard to say from this article. Seems as if it could fit in many other views and theories. Unfortunately, the assumptions and epistemologies underlying her model are almost completely opaque in this article. Will need to check the original articles themselves.

Schneider, K. G. “Range of Desire: In the military, I learned to love women and guns.”

Very enjoyable read. Parts of this resonated deeply with me, some parts not so much, and some seemed very different than my experience. But this is Karen’s story so that last clause in the previous sentence isn’t too relevant.

Hjørland, Birger. (2002). “Epistemology and the Socio-Cognitive Perspective in Information Science.” JASIST 53 (4): 257-270.

Through the lens of psychology literature demonstrates the differences between the cognitive and socio-cognitive views, discusses domain analysis, shows that knowledge of subject literature(s) is required for effective info retrieval, demonstrates that different paradigms and epistemologies imply different information needs and relevance criteria.

Some of these points ought to be blatantly self-evident but they generally ignored in our literature. These points can fit within an integrationist view most likely.

Hjørland, Birger. (2004). “Domain Analysis: A Socio-Cognitive Orientation for Information Science Research.” Bulletin of the ASIST, Feb/March 2004: 17-21.

This is good, but short, overview of domain analysis based on the author’s talk at the ASIS&T 2003 Annual Meeting. For anyone looking for a short intro to domain analysis and several other of the author’s views (socio-cognitive view, pragmatic realism) this is a great place to start.

For some reason the close juxtaposition of IS & IT in the 1st several paragraphs of this article made me make an odd sort of observation:

IS and/vs. IT

“is” and/vs. “it”

being and/vs. thing

So tell me about relevance again, will you? Relationships are defined by what?

Tuesday, 2 Oct

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

  • Ch. 2: Methodology: The Word of the Layperson
  • Ch. 3: What Do Lay Speakers Say About Words?

Wednesday, 3 oct

Hayley (above).

  • Ch. 4: Words and Linguistic Meaning

Hjørland, B. “Domain analysis in information science: Eleven approaches – traditional as well as innovative.” Journal of Documentation 58 (4), 2002: 422-462. doi: 10.1108/00220410210431136

This is a long but useful article about the uses of domain analysis in information science. It pointed me to several resources of which probably ought to play a role in my critique of language theorizing and use in LIS.

I loved this quote, under the head of Indexing and retrieving specialties, as it serves to justify my extending stay at GSLIS:

Too often library and information specialists feel they lack adequate subject knowledge. In order to claim the existence of the field as a serious field of study one has, however, to develop sufficient subject knowledge in at least one field (e.g. LIS itself). The application of LIS principles to a specific task may make research in information science more relevant and realistic (429, emphasis mine).

The following is a claim made in many places by Hjørland which I am going to need more time to formulate an adequate response to, but I want to note it here:

The tendency to try to measure users’ information needs by questioning them or by studying their behavior seems to me to be mistaken. What information is needed to solve a given problem is not primarily a psychological question, but a theoretical/philosophical one (431).

While I tend to agree with this, at least in restricted domains, I do not think it is so applicable in, say, general culture. Certainly there are assumptions I am making if I want to do a Google search on Britney’s custody woes as reported in the popular press, but I do not think theory and philosophy are going to be of much use and certainly will not be dominant in my “need.”

Thus, I am led to think that this is going to be more of a continuum, and perhaps/more likely multi-dimensionally continuous. I think Hjørland’s view on this is a bit too influenced by scientific-type knowledge, “serious research” and the academic environment. But if IS and KO only focus on these limited areas of knowledge then the game is already up. We must have a wider influence or the Googles and Microsofts of the corporate world will quickly eat us up. [Noted to ask him about this.]

His spin on bibliometrics, here and elsewhere, makes it seem like they can possibly be given a integrationist spin (e.g., p. 433).

On taking the easy way out citationally (underrepresentation and overrepresentation):

In LIS there may be a corresponding tendency to overcite easy theories and methods at the expense of more difficult but also more important papers (435). [Oh, like Bush, perhaps.]

Under Document and genre studies:

These important concepts need, however, to be based on more general theories of documents, their communicative purposes and functions, their elements and composition and their potential values in information retrieval. Different disciplines or discourse communities develop special kinds of documents as adaptations to their specific needs (437).

Seems pretty integrative and reflective of the macrosocial, and perhaps of the circumstantial as well.

Terminological studies, language for special purpose (LSP), database semantics and discourse studies was the most productive citationally for me. LSPs and sublanguages will be critical to my critique of language in LIS. Can we legitimately speak of sublanguages within Integrationism, or must they be given a different spin? LSPs seem to reflect the macrosocial at first blush.

Ammon’s sociolinguistic theory of LSPs seems useful in cross- and interdisciplinary information seeking (444-445).

Spells out Hjørland’s approach (so far) to LSPs and database semantics (4 main assumptions) (445-446):

  1. “Signs and their meaning are formed by social groups primarily as part of the social division of labour in society.”
  2. “Different communities develop specific document types of more or less different compositions.”
  3. “The above mentioned discursive or epistemic communities are always influenced by various epistemological norms and trends, which also influence the social construction of symbolic systems, media, knowledge, meaning and semantic distances.”
  4. “When documents are merged in databases information about implicit meanings from the prior contexts are lost.”

Is the concept of semantic distance tenable in Integrationism?

Under Structures and institutions in scientific communication we get an explicit comment on the “narrow” view taken by Hjørland (at least in this arena) that I critiqued above:

They do not, however, cover mass media, organisational communications, and broader communications connected to the public sphere (447).

Another comment with which I basically agree but also find somewhat narrow [although he does say “a“]:

In LIS a central goal is to provide users with information which can help evaluate the validity of different knowledge claims. To help the user establish his own views on some issue based on studies of all available arguments is extremely important in LIS (450).

What can I say, except “Read it!”

Thursday, 4 Oct

Walrod, Michael E. “Language: object or event? The integration of language and life.” In Nigel Love, Ed. Language and History: Integrationist Perspectives. London: Routledge, 2006: 71-78.

Need to copy this and re-read it as it is the selection for Metadata Roundtable Wednesday. Am I the so-called discussion leader for this one?

Thursday – Friday, 4 – 5 Oct

Hayley, (above).

  • Ch. 5: Parts of Speech and Grammar
  • Ch. 6: Folk Characteristics of Words (split over T/F)
  • Ch. 7: Reorientation: The Integration of Speech and Writing

This was actually a quite entertaining book using an “ask-the-speaker methodology, using fieldwork and interview techniques” (ix-x) to focus “on the uses to which English speakers on the one hand, and linguistic theorists on the other, out the word word” (ix). It is also a fast read.

In fact, it was downright hilarious at points. My only complaints are that: (1) it, although very relaxed, if you will, for an academic book, is still very British in style and, (2) some of the author’s conclusions did not seem to follow from the way they were phrased in summary, although they did from the evidence. Thus, I was a tad confused at points. Well worth a read if you can get it from a library. Just don’t make it an even faster read by skipping what the informants say; that will be important to coming to the correct conclusions and are, of course, the actual funny parts.

Some of things they “blame” on Americans are downright hilarious. This is not the funniest one but one I can find at the moment:

G: . . . shit as far as I understand it is being used more and more by American young girls as an expression of disgust (152)

On epistemological and ontogenetically we get:

Other guesses were that epistemological was possibly a ‘religious’ word (B) because of the word epistle, and W thought they both sounded ‘like words the Americans have made up . . . funny words” (171).

The take home message is not, of course, the humor [perhaps I ought to write humour?] but the variability of users experience with and use of metalinguistic thinking and talk contra the linguistic theorists who think we all have the same ideas innately. Well, we clearly do not nor should it take a research project and book to demonstrate that.

Friday, 5 Oct

Hjørland, B. “Arguments for Philosophical Realism in Library and Information Science.” Library Trends 52 (3), Winter 2004: 488-506. Available in IDEALS at [pdf]

Title reflects the paper quite well.

Empiricism is a problematic philosophy, but this does not, of course, imply that empirical research is mistaken (493).

Much more interdisciplinary work needs to be done in the philosophy of science (494).

Being a subscriber to Philosophy of Science I’d say that it is beginning to be done, and I have no doubt much more is being reported in other venues. But the point is well taken and supported by me.

… the socio-cognitive and domain analytic view assumes that “in the beginning there is a community” as well as a body of more or less substantiated knowledge claims; its distinguishing charge is to locate interactional processes in their social structural context as well as in their theoretical-substantial context (496, emphasis mine).

Sounds pretty integrational to me.

Related to an above critique of relevance:

The validity—and thus the relevance—of a document claiming that a certain substance is relevant as a cure for cancer is also ultimately decided in medical research, not by asking users of information services. [en 17, 18] Thu we have a central realist claim: A given document may be relevant to a given purpose, whether or not the user believes this to be so. [en 19] (497).

Sorry but I am not reproducing the endnotes here. While I want to concur with these statements I cannot without qualification. The ultimate question whether a specific substance is a possible cure for cancer is certainly an empirical one, but assuming that our “users of information services” are cancer researchers there is a definite sense in which the relevance of that particular document to their research program is theirs to make. They may lose a Nobel over their relevance decision if it is the wrong one, but the fact that epistemologies and assumptions imply relevance also implies that the decision of relevance is somewhat in the hand of users. But the point which I fully support is that one cannot reduce relevance entirely to what the user says is relevant. In some cases there will be an objective matter of fact of some thing’s relevance to a specific question.


It is rather a claim that relevance is not a subjective phenomenon but rather an objective one. To be engaged in how to identify what is relevant is to be engaged in scientific arguments, ultimately in epistemology (for a more detailed discussion on the realist position in relevance research, see Hjørland, 2000a and Hjørland & Sejer Christensen, 2002) (497).

Yes, perhaps it is an idealist position that some part of relevance is subjective. Nonetheless, this is the case. The first sentence in the above quote is a non-starter in that it is an either/or when it needs to be an and both. The and both will differ along a continuum depending upon the domain under investigation, but it is not one or the other. What about pop culture? Again, why with such a narrow view of KO and IR?

The field of information-seeking behavior has in a similar way been dominated by antirealist tendencies. When people seek information, they have given systems of information resources with given potentialities at their disposal (497).

OK. This is objectively the case on one description. But these given potentialities are rapidly changing, and many are not so “given” anymore. There is also the matter of knowing, and even being able to know, the given of some of these systems today. This ties directly into my stated intention to hire several librarians to help me manage all of my “systems of information resources” when I win the lottery.

Anyway, I do agree with much of what Hjørland says in this article and elsewhere. I just see some things that to me seem to be based on a narrower view than I feel we can afford to take or which need a bit of nuance as I see it.

Perhaps my views are different and perhaps seem muddled to some because I am a realist about much of the external world, but I am not a realist about much of modern science. Atoms and beyond? Not so much. Useful theoretical entities they be, but just as “wrong” as Newton’s mechanics. Who’s to say our current sub-atomic particles are truly existing entities? See, there‘s the rub. I am an ontological realist (generally), but I am most certainly not an epistemological realist. In fact, my dislike of epistemological realism runs much deeper than disavowing “the view that science provides a true or realistic picture of the world” (490), especially since some would say the only true or realistic picture of the world. Nope, call me an epistemological agnostic, if you like. I think epistemology is an important subject and I fully agree with Hjørland in his claim that it is central to LIS. I just don’t think we really have much that amounts to Truth or Knowledge or, more accurately, that we can ever know if we do.

It seems my views are pretty much in accord with Hjørland’s based on endnote 24 to this article (no idea what his views on particle physics is, though). And while I do agree that our subjective knowledge can be objective, in the sense that it is “in accordance with its object” (504), I do not believe that we can ever know that is is. All we have to go on is the use that that knowledge makes for pragmatically.

I have a definite post in me about science as a belief system right now but I doubt I’ll have time to get to it. I promised a friend of mine the other day who shocked me by claiming that it was not (and says she did before) that I would write it. But, alas, probably not. Trying to claim otherwise via dictionary definitions, statements by scientists, lay views of “systems of belief,” etc. simply cannot get you out of your dilemma of belief. I read a good article somewhere in the last day or so that I wanted to ask her to read. Damn it! What was it? Was it this article or something online?

Theories of Information Behavior [see above].

  • Theory 10: Rieh, Soo Young. “Cognitive Authority.”

Cognitive authority theory was developed by Patrick Wilson in his book, Second-hand Knowledge: An Inquiry into Cognitive Authority. It appears that people of many epistemological persuasions have made use of Wilson’s theory. I think cognitive authority can easily be given an integrationist reading as I can see it being definitely influenced by biomechanical, macrosocial and circumstantial parameters.

Browne, Glenda. “The Definite Article: Acknowledging ‘The’ in Index Entries,” The Indexer, vol. 22, no. 3 April 2001, pp. 119-22.

This article won the 2007 Ig Nobel Award for Literature. I saw this 1st a few days ago at 3 Quarks Daily and then a few other places. When I saw the Thingology post on it this morning I finally read it.

The Ig Nobel is given “For achievements that first make people LAUGH, then make them THINK.”

Ig Nobels at 3 Quarks Daily and at Thingology. 2007 Award Winners at the Annals of Improbable Research site.

As Tim says, “Hey, it’s a problem” and the author makes some good points.

Initial articles are the focus of my Python programming so far in LIS452. My 1st program took an internal list of mixed case titles and put them in lower case, stripped leading articles (English only) and then alphabetized them. My 2nd program which is currently beta and due Thursday does pretty much the same thing except it is written using functional vs. procedural style and it reads the titles in from a file and writes them out to a 2nd file. I hope to “fix” it to capitalize the 1st letter of each title, and if I have time to use regular expressions to do the stripping. Regex will be overkill for this program but I see them as probably the most important thing I can learn from this class (at the moment anyway).

Not sure how far I’ll get with this, though, as. must. prepare. for Dr. Hjørland’s visit this coming week!

Not going to claim that I won’t be reading or re-reading anything else today but I am going to cut this off and get back to my commentary o Hjørland’s “Semantics and Knowledge Organization” which is a much bigger job than I was thinking. It is about to become a multi-post job.

Gulp. I have 3 Downey chapters and 2 Zelle chapters to read for 452, which is LEEP on-campus this week. Luckily I have an extra day to get to those since class is Friday this week. Thank the LEEP gods for that one!