Some things read this week, 24 – 30 June 2007

Saturday – Sunday, 23-24 June

Corry, Richard. “Causal Realism and the Laws of Nature.” Philosophy of Science 73 (3), July 2006: 261-276.

Sunday, 24 June

Smiraglia, Richard P. and Gregory H. Leazer. “Derivative Bibliographic Relationships: The Work Relationship in Global Bibliographic Database.” JASIS 50 (6), 1999: 493-504.

Cited by Tillett, B. B. “Bibliographical Relationships.” In Bean & Green (2001), amongst many other places, which I’m re-reading closely for my Topic Maps work.

Interesting empirical data on extent, prevalence and size of bibliographic families, types of relationships and their prevalence, and some data on characteristics of progenitor works and the correlation of these characteristics on the size and shape of a bibliographic family.

Monday, 25 Jun

Hjørland, Birger, and Jeppe Nicolaisen. 2004. Scientific and scholarly classifications are not “naïve”: a comment to Begthol [sic]. Knowledge Organization 31, no. 1: 55-61.

Beghtol, Clare L. 2004. Response to Hjørland and Nicolaisen. Knowledge Organization 31, no. 1: 62-63.

Nicolaisen, Jeppe, and Birger Hjørland. 2004. A rejoinder to Beghtol (2004). Knowledge Organization 31, no. 3: 199-201.

Thanks to Kristina for pointing out in a comment on last week’s post that these follow-ups exist regarding Beghtol’s use of the term “naïve.” Always nice to see smart people have already thought the same things that I notice.

Mann, Thomas. “The Peloponnesian War and the Future of Reference, Cataloging, and Scholarship in Research Libraries.” [pdf here]

I think is Mann’s most balanced piece (lately) so far. It has been getting a lot of play including a nice write-up by David Weinberger.

Well worth the read no matter which side of the controlled vocabulary / tagging debate you come down on. [I cannot believe I just wrote that. Perhaps I should say that if you believe there is said debate then you absolutely need to read it. If you are with most of us who believe they both have a time and place, and that may they might even serve to describe the same entity, then reading it is also a good idea.]

Introna, Lucas D. “The (im)possibility of ethics in the information age.” Information and Organization 12, 2002: 71-84.

Cited by Kemp (NASKO 2007) “Classifying marginalized people, …”, p. 59, but I was really more drawn to it by its title and not by its use as a citation.


Written about at length here.

Tuesday, 26 Jun

Tillett, Barbara B. “A Summary of the Treatment of Bibliographic Relationships in Cataloging Rules.” Library Resources & Technical Services 35 (4), Oct 1991: 393-405.

2nd in a series of 4 articles based on Tillett’s dissertation.

Read for Topic Maps and GP cause I’m geeky like that.

Wednesday, 27 Jun

Tillett, Barbara B. “A Taxonomy of Bibliographic Relationships.” Library Resources & Technical Services 35 (2), Apr 1991: 151-158.

1st in a series of 4 articles based on Tillett’s dissertation.

Re-read for Topic Maps and GP cause I’m geeky like that. First read 25-26 Jan 07.

I also read a bunch of articles about Topic Maps, but I will spare you since I want no one as confused as I ended up. I actually thing I have a decent grasp in them conceptually (as a beginner, anyway) but all the articles are using assorted versions of the standard, or the DTD vs. the schema, and so on, which makes it real difficult when you start actually writing syntax and expecting validation.

If you want TM references let me know but most are available on the open Web.

Thursday, 28 Jun

Tillett, Barbara B. “Bibliographic Relationships: An Empirical Study of the LC Machine-Readable Records.” Library Resources & Technical Services 36 (2), Apr 1992: 162-188.

4th in a series of 4 articles based on Tillett’s dissertation.

Read for Topic Maps and GP cause I’m geeky like that. Yes, I skipped the 3rd article for now, “The History of Linking Devices.” I will read it but it serves no purpose for my Topic Maps assignment.

I did bring the following home today, though, to trace some of the references she made in her articles:

Tillett, Barabara Ann Barnett. Bibliographic Relationships: Towards a Conceptual Structure of Bibliographic Information used in Cataloging. Ph.D. diss., University of California, 1987.

Crawford, Walt. Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large 7 (8), July 2007 [pdf]

Friday, 29 Jun

Pepper, Steve and Geir Ove Grønmo. Towards a General Theory of Scope. 2002.

For Topic Maps.

Saturday, 30 Jun

Kauffman, Bill. Bye, Bye, Miss American Empire; Or, the sweet smell of secession. Orion July/Augusut 2007.

A very interesting article on the topic of secession as it makes it way back into conversation in the US. [I only mean interesting in the broadest and vaguest of senses; I am making no value judgements with its use.]

Found at 3 quarks daily.

If you won’t talk to your kids about indexing, who will?

If you won’t talk to your kids about indexing, who will?

Originally uploaded by broken thoughts

This bumpersticker is on Allen Renear’s bulletin board on the door to his office. You really got to love this guy!

I also want to know where to find one.

Other awesomeness arising from near the vicinity of this provided me a free copy of the following today:

Iyer, Hemalata. Classificatory Structures: Concepts, Relations and Representation. Textbooks for Knowledge Organization, V. 2. Frankfurt: INDEKS Verlag, 1995.

While it has some editing issues and even perhaps a few conceptual issues it is still an awesome book, especially for FREE. I used several chapters of it in the lit review I did last fall in Carole Palmer’s class on the topic of “multilingual” mapping of thesauri for use by interdisciplinary scientists.

I am looking forward to being able to read the whole thing finally.

Thank you, ma’am.

NASKO 2007 – Day 2, part 2

Plenary: Issues in Knowledge Organization Research: An Interactive Panel Discussion. Joe Tennis, moderator.

Tennis’ intro:

Do we all come with the same purpose?

Dow we all come with the same conceptualization of the problem space?

  • James Turner, Professor, University of Montreal.
  • Clare Beghtol, Professor, University of Toronto.
  • Jens-Erik Mai, Professor and Vice Dean, University of Toronto.

James Turner

Initial comments were on papers presented on the 1st day.

Pimentel: Conversations. Right way to do it?

Zhang: Breaking down to component parts of resource/granularity.

Campbell: “World seems hostile to rigor and good practice.” “The Web is not one thing/community, especially Web 2.0 and the Semantic Web.” [paraphrases of Campbell]

Feinberg: “Browsing different than searching, but same goal.” Personal KO schemes; get at them via ethnomethodological methods (interviews, …).

Kasten: reactive -> centralized; proactive -> decentralized, hmmm?

Lots of nostalgia re vertical files; might mean something

  • browsing
  • personal KO

Clare Beghtol

Purpose(s) of KO

“Classification is a cognitive imperative.”

  • “Language is classification.”
  • “What behavior is not classification?”

“We have not kept control of structure; now we worry that the structure conveys little meaning.”

Assumption ethics. [I think this is what she said; didn’t get the references (down)].

Jens-Erik Mai

“What is KO (in this day)?”

Computer science doesn’t know what we know; from comment by James Turner in his intro, BUT

“do we know what we know?”

Universe of knowledge: The organization of this has been our goal for past 130 years. Now we know there are lots of ways to do it and that there is no one way.

Realization that users are important.

“KO used to be about system (“the one system”), what should we teach now?”

“What is common to us and our new organization?”

Clearly, James Turner set the stage by recapping the symposium so far. Clare Beghtol added valuable commentary and provided some theoretical reminders/possibilities. Jens-Erik asked a lot of questions and added a bit of commentary to get the audience primed to contribute to the conversation which was a good half of the plenary. Very nice method.

Discussion portion of Plenary

[Comments will be attributed where I can; did not know who some people were and most did not introduce themselves before speaking. “**” – will mean the commentor is unknown. Also, unsure anymore what is paraphrase and what is a direct quote, and even then there is much context missing so be wary in drawing any inferences from these very disembodied and decontextualized snippets of conversation.]:

Barbara Kwasnik – principled guidelines for construction/designing an organization ….

Richard Smiraglia – gave examples of ed of KO as to “do we know what we know?” [Wish I had gotten an example or 2 down!]

** – vertical files.

Rebecca Green – how often are different classifications compatible? Is our biggest issue mapping from one persons classification to another?

Joe Tennis – there are lots of bad ways, wonder if there are any good ways? Maybe so at the local levels, not so much more globally.

** – attempt to close knowledge off to people — rights, censorship, IP, … — do these issues belong to the field and the new organization?

** – examples of, “Yes, these are (or should be) important issues to us.” [Again, wish I had recorded these.]

D. Grant Campbell – we have plenty of diverse user studies. We need to synthesize these for useful patterns/meta-analysis.

DGC – granularity is a Pandora’s Box; maybe we need to open it though. Maybe the semantic relationships folks (Beghtol, Green, …) can help. [Dr. Green’s presentation, which hadn’t happened yet, is a step toward granularity and coherence in the content vs. carrier issue(s).]

Barbara Kwasnik – natural language processing as a 1st disambiguation.

Jens-Erik Mai – user studies – we don’t know what we need to know about users, despite these studies. [Amen to this! We know some but, honestly, besides not knowing what we know (Grant’s assertion) we also do not know what we do need to know about users.]

JEM – what happens when universities/scholarship take back peer reviewing and “we” publish digitally (without publishers)? What does this mean for classification? [Very important questions to consider as we redefine (or define for the 1st time) what it is that we need to know.]

** – from an IR perspective

evaluation needs to shift from system/KO scheme to “does it get the job done?”

is it about subject contents (knowledge) or objects?

DGC – over-reliance on hierarchy; need other visualizations.

I really think that this could have gone on for a lot longer and I wish it had been possible to do so. But I imagine most everyone else feels this way, too. These kinds of discussions are so important and, yet, so rare.

Closing Session: Knowledge Organization in North America, Kathryn La Barre

Kathryn provided a synopsis of the symposium. Photos of Kathryn’s slides begin here.

This is another presentation from which I have few notes as I was trying to be more present than I might be normally, which is why I have all of her slides. A quick snap and focus on the spoken content.

The slide, “Charge” provides a good recap of many of the key questions/research agenda to have arisen during the day and a half of this (hopefully historic) Symposium.

The ideas on that slide define a large portion of my life right now and for the foreseeable future. One of the previous slides, “terms/concepts/topics,” does also but in a more atomic sense. Even the title of the slide carries so much meaning to me. Are these terms and ideas that you conflate? We can’t even begin to talk about each of those words as terms, concepts, or topics without, at least, jumping into a deep ditch. It may not be a bottomless chasm but it gets very deep, very quickly.

Once again, thanks to all involved, in particular those who had the vision and brought it to fruition. Here’s to more wonderful ideas hatched amongst colleagues over drinks!

I hope to be involved with the (almost) newly formed ISKO-NA. I also hope to be able to attend ISKO in Montreal next year.

Have I mentioned how much I love these little intimate, relaxed conferences/conversations?

NASKO 2007 – Day 2

Conference photos here. More touristy photos here [includes some conference attendees]. Everyone’s photos here [which means jennimi and me.]

Rebecca Green has a much better synopsis than I will produce at 025.431: The Dewy Blog.

Plenary: Issues in Knowledge Organization Research: An Interactive Panel Discussion. Joe Tennis, moderator.

  • James Turner, Professor, University of Montreal.
  • Clare Beghtol, Professor, University of Toronto.
  • Jens-Erik Mai, Professor and Vice Dean, University of Toronto.

comments from panel and audience will be in Day 2, part 2 post.

Contributed Papers Session 3:

An Irrational Truth, Or the Marginalization of People Through Classification in Natural Disaster Settings. [Note: Paper title is different from presentation title.] Randall Kemp, University of Washington.

This was quite an interesting paper. The big issue here, though, is that there are so many classifications going on in a natural disaster situation. There is the immediate triage of various [multiple kinds of] caregivers and emergency responders. There is the preplanning classification[s] built into the disaster plans of the incident commanders. There are the classifications needed to communicate with the media. There are the classifications needed by policy makers. Some of these are immediate, some are long-term, some are flexible and changeable, some are fixed. And this only begins to scratch the surface. The question quickly becomes, “How do we find the people in all of these classifications?” Despite all the complicated issues, this is important work.

The Economic and Aesthetic Axis of Information Organization Frameworks [extended abstract]. Joseph T. Tennis, University of British Columbia.

Information Organization Frameworks (IOFs) “are made up of a distinct structure, work practice, and arise from a discourse.”

I think Joe is on to something here, but this economic axis is an oversimplification.

Tagging for Health Information Organisation and Retrieval. Margaret Kipp, University of Western Ontario.

For those interested in tagging, and in particular the intersection of tagging and traditional classification, Margaret Kipp’s work is worth watching. Go find her earlier stuff and keep an eye out for her future work. I believe Louise Spiteri is one of the few others working in this space.


Contributed Papers Session 4:

Faceted Navigation and Browsing Features in New OPACs: A More Robust Solution to Problems of Information Seekers? [extended abstract] Kathryn La Barre, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

I’m really hoping that Kathryn’s research agenda can be funded. We really need to know whether these types of systems are actually effective or whether they just appeal to our beliefs.

Study on the Influence of Vocabularies used for Image Indexing in a Multilingual Retrieval Environment. Elaine Ménard, Université de Montréal.

While image retrieval is not my area, I found this fascinating [even though still in its early stages] based on my readings in the area of multilingual thesauri.

Coffee break

Contributed Papers Session 5:

In the Margins: Reflections on Scribbles, Knowledge Organization, and Access [extended abstract]. June Abbas, SUNY Buffalo.

June rocks! She has a tablet PC so was able to scribble on her own presentation.

She cites Wilson (1968) reminding us that “What a text says is not necessarily what it reveals or what it allows us to conclude … but what is not said may interest us more than what is said” (p. 18). Alert readers of this blog ought to have learned this lesson by now. 😉

She asks whether “reasons and uses of annotation in the print environment [can] also be extended to the digital tagging practice as well?”

Where do we go from here?” “What we need to consider now is how we can use these sources to adapt, augment, revitalize our knowledge organization structures.”

Motivations? Personal findability or organization; communal or familial sharing; meaning making; performative act?

Did I mention that June rocks?

Performance Works: Continuing to Comprehend Instantiation. Richard P. Smiraglia, Long Island University.

Anticipating New Media: A Faceted Classification of Material Types. Rebecca Green, OCLC Dewey Decimal Classification (and Nancy Fallgren, University of Maryland).

While perhaps not the sexiest of topics, it is extremely important and far more complex than our general, in practice, orientation of a simple dichotomy of content vs. carrier, which itself is often highly confused. This is productive clarification of many of the involved issues, and I am really glad to see it for many reasons. Not the least of which is Hjørland’s comment regarding the need to record and qualitatively discuss our disagreements in the literature so that we may truly learn.

Content vs. carrier, or content and carrier, or perhaps content and carrier and what else? Content, infixion, and carrier per T. Delsey (see Delsey cites in her paper). When and in what ways does one facet limit or impose constraints on the other? They are interdependent (see L. Howarth 1997 cite in her paper).

The FRBR Expression entity: “Another development of the content vs. carrier issue questions whether there may be the need for intermediate bibliographic categories between pure intellectual or artistic content and pure physicality” (88). The FRBR Expression entity bothers her because it is being used to mean lots of different things: two editions of a work, two translations of a work (in the same or different languages), different interpretations of an artistic performance, printed text vs. audio recording of text being read (or performed) (88).

I fully agree with her here. IFLA FRBR folks did some wonderful work in their documentation. They also blew a few things, some of which are because they wanted to keep it simple, some perhaps because they were too close to the issues and document, while others may have been due to a compromise … or a mixture. The Expression entity is one such failure. Manifestation and that unfortunate line drawn between Manifestation and Expression level which supposedly shows the line between the intellectual and the physical. That diagram in, and of, itself is a disaster, imnsho. I think the committee knew what they meant, kept the documentation simple (which I agree can be a benefit usually) and thus blew it.

Both Manifestation and Expression are complex creatures. Neither is (only) what they purport to be; they are both so much more than that. And this is not a good thing. Manifestation is a purely conceptual entity that is composed of one or more physical items. Its component parts (if more than a singular instance) may never be all together in one physical space-time grouping.

Another reason the “line of demarcation” was unfortunate on that diagram that has now been replicated ad nauseum with a subsequent loss of the little nuance in the text is that the physicality of a Manifestation is a vastly different kind of physicality of an Item. But it is not a difference than can easily be explicated in a sentence or two.

Another issue with the physicality line and much along the lines of Dr. Green’s issue here is that, although non-physically instantiated Expressions are logically possible, they are generally not the sort of entity that libraries are in the habit of worrying about. Libraries do the recorded information and knowledge of humankind. Thus, almost every Expression has some form of physicality. And generally this physicality is of the sort in which we now have a conceptual and physical Manifestation and an Item. Electronic-based media is adding some twists to the mix, to be sure, but they can be accommodated if Dr. Green’s initial attempt at explicating these issues is furthered.

By the way, all of that from “I fully agree with her. …” was all me.

Dr. Green showed 4 ways in which DDC attempts to show content and carrier distinctions. She said that perhaps we’ll see some payoff from her work soon in the schedules. I am unsure of how I feel about the DDC, specifically, and classification structures like it, for many and complex reasons, but I am glad that Dr. Green is working on it.

I want to recant my opening line a bit to, “While I know some of you won’t find this a sexy topic, it should be considered far sexier than it is.” This is a complex and old topic, with plenty of hard practical and philosophical problems. I have the feeling that this is a prime bit of description that would be well served by faceting. But we need to do a good job conceptually, experiment, refine, implement, test and provide feedback in the literature.

Closing Session: Knowledge Organization in North America, Kathryn La Barre (synopsis of the symposium). The “charge.”

I will try to add some notes on this on the Day 2, part 2 post. Or not. See Rebecca Green for a good summary.

I apologize to all those authors/presenters whose papers I did not get to comment on. This is way “behind schedule” and I’ve just decided to start a 3rd post to finish this out. Unfortunately, I now have more pressing things than conference reporting. Of course, I think of this as far more than conference reporting. Which is why I didn’t say I have things of more importance; that would be so far from the truth.

Thanks again to all who made this symposium possible! It was an amazing time and experience.

Some things read this week, 17 – 23 June 2007

Monday, 18 June

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

Cited by Zhang, J. (2007). Ontology and the Semantic Web. Proceedings of the North American Symposium on Knowledge Organization. Vol. 1. Available:

As much as I need to summarize this for myself I have run out of time, so:

The aim of this chapter is to demonstrate that semantic issues underlie all research questions within Library and Information Science (LIS, or, as hereafter, IS) and, in particular, the subfield known as Knowledge Organization (KO). Further, it seeks to show that semantics is a field influenced by conflicting views and discusses why it is important to argue for the most fruitful one of these. Moreover, the chapter demonstrates that IS has not yet addressed semantic problems in systematic fashion and examines why the field is very fragmented and without a proper theoretical basis. The focus here is on broad interdisciplinary issues and the long-term perspective (from intro, 367).

It is fairly reassuring to know that I have read about half of the sources he cites as “addressing semantic issues in KO and IS” on p. 370.

It is less reassuring, on one hand, to have this and particularly the other Hjørland article below reinforce my belief that Information Science is not a science. On the other, it is nice to know that someone with far more stature in the field feels the same way. [By the way, I also do not believe that most of modern experimental physics is science, but for different reasons. These views are when I am using “science” in a narrow sense.]

Houston, Ronald D. and Glynn Harmon. “Vannevar Bush and Memex.” ARIST 41 (2007): 55-92.

Stumbled over when copying the previous article above.

Actually quite good. I was really quite torn with myself as I was copying this, but I knew I ought to make the effort to learn a bit more.

Karen, I highly commend it to you. Also commended to others but Karen has been the one here making me think deeper about my views on Bush and AWMT.

This review examines the history, historiography, influences, and apparent misunderstandings surrounding Vannevar Bush’s memex concept and discusses the the manner in which the literatures of information science and other areas have cited the memex and its central idea of knowledge management (KM) by associative trails. The review also challenges the central memex premise that the mind works exclusively through associative thinking by reviewing some competing psychological movements and theories that emerged before and after Bush framed the memex concept (1st paragraph of intro, 55).

The article focuses on Bush’s distinction of personal KM and shared KM in the memex as a primary contribution. It also takes pains to point out Bush’s subsequent downplaying of the technological side and his emphasis on associative trails/thinking.

To provide a short[er] overview I will list the section headings: Introduction; Bush on the Memex; Challenges to Bush’s Associative Thinking Premise; Interpretations of the Memex Legacy; Some Early Reactions to the Memex; Positive Reactions to the Memex: The 1960s and 1970s; The Memex Inspires: 1962 Onward; Apparent Misinterpretations: 1965 Onward; The Memex in ARIST, 1966-2005; The Hand of Mammon: 1985 Onward; Vannevar Bush Reanimated; Memex Influence on Shared KM and the World Wide Web, 1993; The Influence of Memex on Literary Theory; Some Recent Influence of AWMT on Marketing Thought; Memex in the Library; Influence of Memex on Education; Summary and Conclusions; and Epilogue.

Some of my favorite quotes from the article:

“The memex concept and its underlying assumption that the mind works only or essentially through associative reasoning have had a broad, enduring impact throughout information science” (55). Can you say, “Understated?”

“On one hand, associationism has proved to be enormously successful in explaining many thought processes and in providing a basis for hyperlinking and Web technologies; as a consequence, the current task is often seen to consist in building on that associationist infrastructure. On the other hand, some observers have argued that new technologies and approaches are needed to compensate for the shortcomings of Web associationism” (60).

“The memex’s legacy also rests in part on the subsequent conflation of its analog ideas with their digital realizations some decades later” (emphasis in original, 61). I’ll leave it to you to read the article and find out Bush’s views on digital computers, but this is a key point.

“In other words, Bush appears to have served as something of a godparent to the godparents of Berners-Lee, the father of the Web” (68). Please notice the relationship here; it is neither direct nor lineally descendant.

“As documented in the pages of ARIST, then, authors writing about some 25 information science topical areas have acknowledged the memex. In some cases this was simply paying homage to Bush’s notion of the memex, largely as a matter of scholarly ritualism” (72). Oh, yes, because scholarly ritualism lends serious credence and authority to an argument. Michael Gorman, please come smack me down for having the audacity to doubt that scholarly ritualism serves any real intellectual work in the transmission of ideas and knowledge.

“First, we can safely say that the legacies of Bush and his memex endure and remain positive despite their 60-year journey over rocky roads. Although controversies may continue about whether Bush’s concepts or technologies were original, or about his true place in history, his AWMT article retains its inspirational magic” (81). While inspiration is a mighty fine and important thing, magic has no place in IS as a discipline; notice the second letter in that acronym. The art and science of information science need to work together to provide the illusion of magic and wonder for the user, when possible. And while we are users of our own systems and need to be inspired, those of us working in this area have already “peeked behind the curtain” and need to finally fully step behind it. Magic has little place back here.

“Second, although some textbooks since 1995 have tended to credit AWMT as a key root or origin of information science, personal computers, the Internet, the Web, and hypertext, that position distorts the historical record” (81). Amen! Read the article to get more perspective on this.

“Breakthoughs often consist of new syntheses or Gestalten that are more than the sum of their parts: The memex qualifies as such a breakthough” (82). Read the article to find out why I scribbled “kind of humorous, considering …” in the margin.

“Sixth, as argued earlier, authors who cite Bush, AWMT, or the memex need to do so less ritualistically, more critically, and for substantive reasons” (83).

I highly recommend this article; in particular, to LIS students or to anyone who thinks they need to drop a Bush citation in something. I am glad I took the time to read it and have no doubt that I will revisit it at some point.

And while my views on Bush and the memex are quite a bit more nuanced now than prior to reading this, I will still make fun of you if you simply add a ritualistic or uncritical reference to Bush in something. That is perhaps all I ever really meant, but this article has given me a much clearer idea of what constitutes an uncritical reference.

Tuesday, 19 June

Dewdney, Patricia and Gillian Michell. “Asking “Why” Questions in the Reference Interview: A Theoretical Justification.” Library Quarterly 67 (1), 1997: 50-71.

Citation provided to me by Christina Pikas via email 17 June due to our comments re theories of communication back on my David Bade LC WG posts, in particular for the Grice reference. She says I “opened up a bag of worms with this one” but she also knows I like to be schooled. 😉 Thanks, Christina.

This is a valuable article, which if it had been assigned in my reference class I might not be saying things like, “We really never discussed the reference interview.” Of course, this is a small part of reference interviewing, or so I imagine, since it only deals with “why” questions.

Christina “assigned” it to me due to the Grice reference and the accompanying section on “Cooperative Discourse” (55-57).

… the preceding analysis drawn from linguistics, philosophy, and cognitive science shows that “why” questions are unlikely to work well in the reference interview because they are perceived by the user as ambiguous, intrusive, or irrelevant. Furthermore, because “why” questions invite false inferences, both the user and the librarian tend to violate the rules governing cooperative behavior (62).

Contextualization, neutral questioning, and help chaining are suggested solutions to the problem of “why” questions.

I do believe that these ideas are important in communication, but I also have some doubts about how relevant this is to my (attempted) critique of Bade’s attempt at communication as I said at some point in that earlier conversation. Useful reading, nonetheless.

Frohmann, Bernard P. [Really is Bernd; just using the data on the article itself.] “An Investigation of the Semantic Bases of Some Theoretical Principles of Classification Proposed by Austin and the CRG.” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 4 (1), Fall 1983: 11-27.

Cited by Hjørland above with multiple references, including: “Frohmann (1983) has discussed the semantic bases and theoretical principles of some classification systems. 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).

Why, oh why does CCQ no longer have articles like this?

Demonstrates that Austin’s a priori semantics for machine-based classification is unclear and that it does not both meet the CRG’s criterion of adequacy, to which Austin subscribes, or can serve the purpose of machine retrieval.

[Criterion of adequacy “states that a necessary condition of an adequate system is that it be based upon a classification of knowledge (CRG 1955, 6)” (11). Further implications of this criterion are spelled out in the paper. Full cite for the canonical CRG paper is below.]

Looks at the semantics of the Classification Research Group (CRG) and shows that they are an a posteriori semantics; that is, “the semantic relations between terms are not given a priori but depend upon human activities. Since there is no a priori restriction upon the way human beings employ words in linguistic practices, there is no way to determine semantic relations between terms other than to look and see how people actually employ words” (13).

Then demonstrates that Austin clearly subscribes to an a apriori semantics; that is, “that there are context-free, or subject-neutral, generic relations” (19), according to which the hierarchies are given a priori by the meanings of the terms involved” (21).

A Wittgensteinian criticism is then leveled against Austin’s semantics. Frohmann points out that even if his argument is sound [I believe it is], “it does not follow that an information retrieval system cannot be both machine-compatible and adequate” (26).

Highly recommended for anyone interested in semantics of classification systems and information retrieval.

And CCQ, please ….

[Classification Research Group. “The Need for a Faceted Classification as the Basis of All Methods of Information Retrieval.” UNESCO document 320/5515 (International Advisory Committee for Documentation and Terminology in Pure and Applied Science). Paris, 1955.]

Wednesday, 20 June

Beghtol, Clare. “Classification for Information Retrieval and Classification for Knowledge Discovery: Relationships between “Professional” and “Naïve” Classifications.” Knowledge Organization 30 (2), 2003: 64-73.

Cited by Smiraglia (2007) “Performance Works: ….”

Examines the purposes, methods, similarities and differences between “naïve” and “professional” classifications.

In this paper, classifications for information retrieval are called “professional” classifications because they are devised by people who have a professional interest in classification, and classifications for knowledge discovery are called “naïve” classifications because they are devised by people who have no particular interest in studying classification as an end in itself (abstract, 64).

Despite liking the ideas in this article, I’m still not comfortable with these labels, especially since the 2 types of classifications serve different purposes. Could not a professional in another discipline just reverse the labels? What makes classification for info retrieval more professional than classification for knowledge discovery? Just because it is what “we” have been doing for so long now? One could easily argue that classification for knowledge discovery is epistemologically superior to classification for IR, and thus more “professional.” Anyway ….

There are important ideas in this mini “naïve” classification of classifications. Yes, I think one would have to agree that this is a “naïve” classification. Read the article and you’ll understand why; in addition to the fact that it isn’t a classification for IR.

This is an initial exploration of “naïve” classifications “to see how authors characterize their purposes and what classificatory methods they use” (65). The initial list of purposes includes:

  1. discover gaps in knowledge
  2. fill gaps in knowledge
  3. reconstruct historical situations and evidence
  4. facilitate integration and communication of findings
  5. suggest revisions or amplifications of accepted classifications (66)

These are not meant to be mutually exclusive and certainly not meant to be exhaustive. Examples of a “naïve” classification fitting each of these purposes is given.

Methods of construction are similar despite the differences in purposes. Beghtol claims two major implications follow from this funding.

  • Need to examine whether “naïve” classifications may support information retrieval (as a purpose).
  • Further comparisons will provide insights into their relationships; how different environments account for flexibility or rigidity, for one.

There are several other ideas in the paper, but I will leave it to you find them.

For those interested in classification, highly recommended.

ISO/IEC FDIS 13250-2. Information Technology — Topic Maps — Part 2: Data Model. 2005-12-16.

For Topic Maps class.

Thursday, 21 June

ISO/IEC FDIS 13250-3. Information Technology — Topic Maps — Part 3: XML Syntax. 2006-06-19.

For Topic Maps class.

Hjørland, Birger. “Fundamentals of Knowledge Organization.” Knowledge Organization. 30 (2), 2003: 87-111.

Cited by Smiraglia (2007) “Performance Works: ….”

Read this article! I do not fully agree with everything he says, but he is generally spot on.

Demonstrates that the filed has been driven by information technology and is “largely atheoretic and fragmented” and, thus, it is “difficult to sketch the more theoretical and scientific progress in this field” (88).

As a theoretical concept, “information” tends to move LIS and KO towards theories about control, feedback, coding and noise in transmitting messages, while “document” tends to move LIS towards theories about meaning, language, knowledge, epistemology and sociology. Therefore, in LIS there may be a whole paradigmatic conflict hidden in those words (90).

What an excellent analysis, and I certainly know which side of that conflict I want to work on. Such an analysis has serious implications in issues of power, control, and basic rights, also.

I love some of the distinctions that he rejects as basic methodological ones, such as machine-based methods vs. “manual” methods, or quantitative vs. qualitative methods (104). He also claims that, “In general our knowledge of how humans classify is limited” (104). As a footnote in this area (fn12) he has a comment regarding the need to record and qualitatively discuss our disagreements in the literature so that we may truly learn. Amen!

Smiraglia, Richard P. “Whither Knowledge Organization?: An Editorial.” Knowledge Organization. 33 (1), 2006: 8-10.

Found while getting the Dahlberg from last week.

OK, need to check the formatting and this has to go to press; ready or not.

Some things read this week, 6 – 12 May 2007

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Ingwersen, Peter and Peter Willett. “An Introduction to Algorithmic and Cognitive Approaches for Information Retrieval.” Libri 45 (3/4), Sep/Dec 1995:160-177.

Cited by Radford, Gary P. and Marie L. Radford. “Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, and the Library: de Saussure and Foucault.” Journal of Documentation 61 (1) 2005: 60-78. DOI 10.1108/00220410510578014 Read back in late Jan.

Post-structuralist tendencies in LIS can also be seen in the newer paradigm of “best match” that focuses on relevance and attends to issues of context and complexity (see Ingerwersen and Willett, 1995). (76)

Although now a bit dated, provides a decent intro into both algorithmic approaches and cognitive approaches (more user-oriented) to information retrieval, and how they are complementary. Not directly applicable to relationships but had its moments, and it did provide two interesting citations to sources on relevance and retrieval outcomes.

information retrieval, algorithmic approach, cognitive approach, Boolean searching, best-match retrieval, statistical approaches, term conflation, stemming, similarity measures, weighting, information need, intermediaries, cognitive IR theory

Monday, 7 May 2007

Charnigo, Laurie and Paula Barnett-Ellis. “Checking Out The Impact of a Digital Trend on Academic Libraries.” Information Technology and Libraries 26 (1), March 2007: 23-34.

Reports on a survey conducted in early 2006 to determine academic librarians’ “awareness of Facebook, practical impact of the site on library services, and perspectives of librarians toward online social networks” (27).

Hmmm…? Well, if you use Facebook already there’s not a lot you will learn here, although it provides some early data on academic librarians’ perceptions of Facebook use in their libraries. The limitations of the survey—mentioned in one paragraph—are fairly significant, though, and I must wonder how useful of a baseline it will provide for the future. Speaking of which, the article will appear extremely “quaint” in five years or less.

If you are not familiar with Facebook already you will learn something, but it won’t be much about Facebook, which, of course, is not the purpose of the article.

The only other critique I care to make involves the use of Stephen Downes’ definition of social networks as “a collection of individuals linked together by a set of relations” (24). First off, that really ought to be relationships, not relations, but many people use relation this way.

My main concern is that this definition is not in the slightest bit useful as a way to discriminate any particular group of individuals from any other, completely random, group. Thus, it simply cannot mark off any social network from another, nor from any collection of individuals that do not form a social network. It is something about those relationships between the individuals that actually constitute the social network. The definition, at least as cited by the authors, completely fails to define just what it is about the relationships that does so.

Here is the Downes citation in case anyone else besides me would like to see if there is any further discrimination in Downes’ article: Stephen Downes. “Semantic Networks and Social Networks.” The Learning Organization 12, (5), 2005: 411., academic libraries, academic librarian’s perceptions, surveys

Downes, Stephen. “Semantic Networks and Social Networks.” The Learning Organization 12, (5), 2005: 411.

C’mon, be honest. You thought I was joking about tracking this down. But I had it read less than 2 hours after writing the previous. The definition comes from the very first sentence of the article and is never elaborated.

Entities in a network are called “nodes” and the connections between them are called “ties” (Cook, 2001). Ties between nodes may be represented as matrices, and the properties of these networks therefore studied as a subset of graph theory (Garton et. al. 1997). (411)

Why, yes, this is true. But these are still not mathematical relations, nor necessarily kin. Describing something using mathematics does not make the thing described mathematical; and while it is possible that people in your social network are your kin it is more likely that they are not.

People are certainly free to use relation in this manner, but I choose to follow Bean & Green’s usage:

(Because “relation” has a technical meaning, we will reserve its use for mathematical and data modeling contexts and for such phrases as “public relations” and “phase relations.” Note that all relations are relationships, but not vice versa. We will instead use the term “relationships” exclusively for the notion of semantic association, although the terms “relation” and “relationship” are often used interchangeably outside formal settings.) (B&G, 2001, vii-viii).

Now I am fully aware that data modeling is exactly what these people are doing when they study social networks and that, as such, relation is fully appropriate. But the statement, “A social network is a collection of individuals linked together by a set of relations,” (Downes, 411) is not about the abstract mathematical model or, at least, should not be. In the second paragraph Downes discusses “six degrees” and how a farmer in India and the President of the US may be closely connected, that is, nodes can be widely dispersed. So, we are talking about extant human beings and the relationships between them.

I guess I’ll consider this nit picked.


Bean, Carol A. and Rebecca Green, eds. (2001). Relationships in the Organization of Knowledge. Information Science and Knowledge Management, Vol. 2. Dordrecht : Kluwer Academic Press.

semantic networks, social networks

Jouis, Christophe. “Logic of Relationships.” In Green, Bean and Myaeng, eds. The Semantics of Relationships: An Interdisciplinary Perspective. Information Science and Knowledge Management series, v. 3. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2002: 127-140.

“Proposes associating logical properties with relationships by introducing the relationships into a typed and functional system of specifications. … [A] specific relation may be characterized as to its: (1) functional type (the semantic type of arguments of the relation); (2) algebraic properties (reflexivity, symmetry, transitivity, etc.); and (3) combinatorial relations with other entities in the same context (for instance, the part of the text where a concept is defined)” (abstract, 127).

relationships, logic, functional type, algebraic properties, combinatorial relations, concepts

Wednesday, 9 May

Bade, David. “Structures, standards, and the people who make them meaningful.” Presented to the 2nd meeting of the Library of Congress’ Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control on “Structures and Standards for Bibliographic Control.”

See “LC Working Group – Structures and Standards, part 2 – David Bade” for comments.

bibliographic structures, bibliographic standards, cataloging, Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control, LC

Thursday, 10 May

Turkle, Sherry. “Can You Hear Me Now?” Forbes 7 May 2007. Found via Library Juice.

Discusses the impact of technology on the self.

self, psychology, technology, virtuality, fragmentation

Hall, Stephen S. “The Older-and-Wiser Hypothesis.” The New York Times. 6 May 2007. Found via 3 Quarks Daily.

Article on the history and state of wisdom research.

research, wisdom, aging, cognitive, reflective, affective

Thursday – Friday, 10 – 11 May

Machery, Edouard. “Concepts Are Not a Natural Kind.” Philosophy of Science 72 (3), July 2005: 444-467.

Originally read 23 March 2006, but was cited in a review of Lenny Moss’ What Genes Can’t Do by Machery in the newest Philosophy of Science so decided to re-read it.

If you are interested in concepts/categories ala Lakoff and others and would like an entry into the philosophical literature then this would be a good piece for you. It’s actually quite easy to follow compared to much of philosophy.

concepts, natural kinds, philosophy, argument from explanatory necessity, categories, prototypes, theories, examplars

Friday, 11 May

Blessinger, Kelly and Michele Frasier. “Analysis of a Decade in Library Literature: 1994-2004.” College & Research Libraries 68 (2), March 2007: 155-169.

Interesting article, as citation studies go, that looks at the top subjects, resources and authors for the decade from 1994-2004. It is, of course, based on a sample so one question is how representative is it really?

The study looked at 2,220 articles in ten journals. I find it interesting that the highest number of articles were on cataloging, 548 (24.7%), and the 2nd highest on user studies, 449 (20.2%). That’s approximately 20% more articles on cataloging than the next highest subject. Intriguing. Maybe that’s why I don’t find it so hard to find good articles; not that everything I read is on cataloging. I read from all of the categories (5) in the article, if not all subjects.

citation studies, LIS literature, Walt Crawford

Svenonius, Elaine. “Reference vs. Added Entries.” [link] Paper presented at Authority Control in the 21st Century: An Invitational Conference, Dublin, OH, March 31-April 1, 1996.

Found via a 8 May 2007 posting to AUTOCAT by Bryan Campbell, “246 and variant title access.”

Oooh, lots of interesting looking things to warm a boy’s heart on that conference page.

The article pulls apart the difference between added entries and references and how their functions are confused and often collapsed due to our cataloging rules. Presents a proposal to fix the issue.

authority control, added entries, references, collocating function, finding function

I’m going to go ahead and post this a day early as tomorrow will not likely include any new reading due to the amount of transcription I have to do. If I do read something, I can easily enough tack it on next week’s list.

Relationships in the Organization of Knowledge: a review

[Written for LIS590RO Representing and Organizing Information Resources Spring 2006. Some formatting is altered in this manifestation.]

Bean, Carol A. and Rebecca Green, eds. (2001). Relationships in the Organization of Knowledge. Information Science and Knowledge Management, Vol. 2. Dordrecht : Kluwer Academic Press.


This edited monograph is comprised of a collection of papers on the theory and practice of relationships in the organization of recorded knowledge, with a particular focus on thesauri. It is divided into two fairly coherent parts; the first on the theoretical background and the second on currently implemented systems, i.e., bibliographic classification systems and thesauri.


This wonderful book is the first of two volumes whose genesis was the participation of the editors in an ACM/SIGIR workshop, “Beyond Word Relations” in 1997. This volume “examines the role of relationships in knowledge organization theory and practice, with emphasis given to thesaural relationships and integration across systems, languages, cultures, and disciplines” (Green, Bean & Myaeng, 2002). It particularly focuses on relationships in the organization of recorded knowledge and is divided into two parts: (1) Theoretical background and (2) Systems.

The first part is the coherently strongest. Green provides an excellent overview chapter, which by itself ought to be required reading in most any course dealing with the organization and representation of recorded knowledge, particularly at the lower levels of an LIS education. Tillett distills an immense knowledge of bibliographic relationships into a short article. Dextre Clarke discusses thesaural relationships, while Milstead writes about standards for thesauri, and Hudon explicates issues and solutions in multilingual thesauri. Bodenreider and Bean’s chapter on vocabulary integration within a subject domain (medicine) may focus on the UMLS, but it is still at a fairly theoretical level and has much wider applicability. Beghtol discusses cultural warrant in bibliographic classifications, and Bean and Green close the first part with a theoretical discussion of relevance relationships.

The second part, which discusses relationships within working systems, is interesting and useful in its own right. The individual articles serve a purpose in describing the roles, strengths and limitations of various relationships within each individual system, while together they provide a good overview of the state of relationships in the major bibliographic systems currently in use. LCSH is covered by El-Hoshy, AAT by Molholt, and MeSH by Nelson, et. al. Neelameghan introduces the thirty lateral relationships (non-hierarchical associative) in the OM Information Service, which “is a multicultural, multilingual information service in the spiritual and religious domains” and “intended to be used globally by peoples of different cultures and faith” (186, 185). Satija describes relationships in the Colon Classification, and Mitchell ends the second part on the Dewey Decimal Classification system.

Overall tone is somewhat variable seeing it is a collection of pieces by vastly different authors, but not enough variation to be distracting. It is also clear that there was a fairly tight editing process as many chapters cite some of the others. The two-part organization works well. It is, of course, not entirely possible to separate theory from practice in a discipline such as library and information science but the two halves work well individually and also together. Thus, the structure of the book works well with the content contained within it.

There is a large amount of that one can learn from this book, and far too many interesting theories or features of operational systems to single any out. Perhaps one way, for me anyway, to single out the more interesting—by one measure—pieces is by how many citations they lead me to chase. On that measure, the introductory chapter by Green and Beghtol’s chapter were the most productive.

I have had little cause to use the index but it appears to be more than adequate. Looking at any of the relationships types, whether the standard triad of hierarchical relationships, or another type shows good coverage broken down by context, to include each type within a specific classification system or thesaurus. Although, I notice that neither paradigmatic or syntagmatic relationships are indexed. While neither figures prominently throughout the text they are explicit concepts that I feel should be indexed. Thus, I will say that it contains a good index, but not an excellent one.

One caveat with this book is which imprint one has. The first copy I had in my possession came via interlibrary loan and was printed to a high quality on quality paper stock. When the copy that I purchased arrived it was different in significant ways. The cover is vastly different in design and even lacks Rebecca Green’s name. The paper is of a lesser quality, and the printing is variable, primarily in size. It is definitely of lesser overall quality.

All in all, this is an excellent book. While, in its entirety, it may not serve well as a text for a specific class, almost every article contained in it would serve a well-defined purpose in a specific context in courses or sections of courses on cataloging, indexing, knowledge organization and representation, ontologies, and even introductory courses.

I feel very comfortable stating that this volume serves as the singularly best introduction to relationships in the service of the organization of recorded knowledge. All of the articles provide a good or better introduction to their specific topics and the bibliographies taken as a whole provide an incredibly broad and deep resource into the literature of relationships in these contexts.

Highly recommended.

Biographical information on the Editors

Dr. Carol A Bean: It is quite difficult to find much information on Dr. Bean, especially current information. All that I have been able to glean comes from the title pages of the two volumes in this series (Bean & Green, 2001; Green, Bean & Myaeng, 2002) and from the authors’ information on a 2004 JASIST article.

Dr. Bean was at the School of Information Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN in 2001, the Extramural Programs, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD in 2002, and the Division of Biomedical Technology and Research Resources, National Center for Research Resources, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD in 2004.

Dr. Rebecca Green: Recently joined OCLC as the assistant editor, Dewey Decimal Classification, based out of the Dewey Editorial Office at the Library of Congress. Prior to this she was an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland College of Information Studies.

She holds a Ph.D., Computer science (University of Maryland), a Ph.D., Library & Information Studies (University of Maryland), an M.A., Linguistics (University of California), an M.L.S., Library & Information Studies (University of Maryland), and a B.A., Music (Harvard University).

Her research interests include: Information storage and retrieval, classification theory, database design, cognitive linguistics, computational linguistics, interlingual knowledge representation, paraphrase relationships, semantics of relationships, and subject representation.

She had edited and contributed to two texts on semantic relationships:

Bean, Carol A. and Rebecca Green, eds. (2001). Relationships in the Organization of Knowledge. Information Science and Knowledge Management, Vol. 2. Dordrecht : Kluwer Academic Press.

Green, Rebecca, Carol A Bean, and Sung Hyon Myaeng, eds. (2002). The Semantics of Relationships: An Interdisciplinary Perspective. Information Science and Knowledge Management, Vol. 3. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.


Green, Rebecca, Carol A Bean, and Sung Hyon Myaeng, eds. The Semantics of Relationships: An Interdisciplinary Perspective. Information Science and Knowledge Management, Vol. 3. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002.

Joan. “New Face at Dewey Manor.” 025.431: The Dewey blog 27 January 2007. Accessed 17 March 2007.

University of Maryland, College of Information Studies. Faculty & Staff page. Accessed 17 March 2007. No longer available.

University of Maryland. News Desk. UM Experts: Engineering and Technology: Computer Science and Engineering. Accessed 17 March 2007.