ASIS&T 2008

[Update 3 Nov 2008: Just uploaded a revised PPT with updated Notes which are much closer to what I spoke from. Although, they clearly are not what I said verbatim.]

ASIS&T is going well.  I arrived late Saturday afternoon in Columbus (OH) and am getting along fine with my roommate whom I met over the Internet by posting to my blog.

Our panel* went well yesterday and I am far happier with my portion than I thought I’d be. I have received some nice comments since, including one from a “luminary.”  I was asked if I’d be posting my slides and I said I would. I still need to make an explicit entry on my “Writings” page but here are the links for now. [This is large! 6.2 MB PDF] [3.1 MB Powerpoint]

My friend, Christina, blogged the panel I was on here. She is also blogging many other sessions at her blog, Christina’s LIS Rant.  She also told me that what I said was more important than my slides. While there are notes in the PPT they aren’t the final ones I used.  Perhaps I’ll post those at some point. Of course, they aren’t exactly or entirely what I said either.

Socializing is going well. I’ve seen several interesting posters and a few good sessions. And tomorrow night I’ll get to see my “baby girl.” That is, the one who turns 25 on Election Day.

* “Tagging as a Communication Device: does every tag cloud have a silver lining.” My portion was a suggestion that tagging researchers make an explicit commitment to a theory of language and communication. If you were to guess that I even had one to suggest—Integrationism—you’d be right.

Thus, I tried to give a very, very basic intro to Integrationism, show how community fits into/is described by the macrosocial (within the theory), and how tagging (as a user behavior) can be explained by Integrationism.  As I said above, I have gotten some nice feedback and interested a couple people in Harris and Integrationism. That, my friends, was the entirety of my scheme. Mission accomplished. 🙂

Some things read this week, 6 – 12 April 2008

Sunday, 6 Apr 2008

Chan, Lois Mai. 1977. Alphabetical arrangement and subject collocation in Library of Congress Subject Headings. Library Resources & Technical Services 21, no. 2:156-169.

Read this for Tom’s presentation/discussion of his project this coming Tuesday (see Tom’s bibliography mentioned last week).

Marshall, Linnea. 2003. Specific and generic subject headings: increasing subject access to library materials. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 36, no. 2:59-87.

Read this for Tom’s presentation/discussion of his project this coming Tuesday (see Tom’s bibliography mentioned last week).

The section on The Syndetic Structure is an excellent read that points to many failures of our current systems. Don’t misunderstand, I am not particularly commenting on what Marshall writes, as I am pretty much completely reading her in light of being highly informed by several previous articles on specificity and closely related topics (although a fair bit older), along with the daily struggles—experiential and conceptual—within these systems as a cataloger and catalog user. If one construes what she writes as a call for tools that would make entering, maintaining, and making the syndetic structure usable and useful then run with it. Please.

But. I am also loathe to say “go out, read this, and go forth.” I have many reservations about much of what Marshall (and the folks she cites [much of which I had just read]) advocate. The point, though, is that this is easily a century old discussion. And lest any foolish youngster or modernist thinks we have really made any serious “progress” towards solving—much less defining—specificity then I want them to steer clear.

There are, at least, two major (and somewhat related) issues here. What has been and is the state of the theoretical view(s) on specificity? And, what has been, what are the reasons why, and what is the state of specificity in action? That is, how has it been implemented in our systems, and how does it, or does it, work?

Issues of theory are complex enough, and highly disparate and even contentious. As for “progress”, we have had some if beginning to pull apart past and other possibly productive uses of the concept can be defended as good conceptual analysis. Svenonius’ 1976 article [see last week] gave us 7 concepts of specificity. Certainly useful, and clarifying, in a sense. The number has not gone down in the last 30 years, either.

I do think that there is much of value to be learned from, tested, and applied (or re-applied more smartly) from much of our literature. But it is also extremely rare that much of the conversation can be had by reading one or two articles or books. And I think that it is the conversation that is often of far more value than simply an answer or two to run with. But I do wish more folks would run with more of them.

And, yes, I know that includes me.

Monday – Wednesday, 7 – 10 Apr 2008

Budd, John. 1992. The Library and Its Users: The Communication Process. New York: Greenwood Press.

  • Ch. 2: Libraries, Information, and Meaning. (Mon)
  • Ch. 3: What Does a Communication Process Look Like? (Mon-Tue)
  • Ch. 4: The Library in the Communication Process (Wed- )

Ah, yes. I did actually leave ch. 4 hanging. I temporarily abandoned it as my bus/lunch reading for the running and philosophy essays below.

This is one of the few books on libraries and communication, and especially on libraries in communication. I ordered myself a used copy on Saturday when I also ordered the Carely below, despite its faults.

Main fault: Although discusses assorted models of communication, they are all transportation/transmission-based. The language from the beginning allows no other option; those metaphors are just assumed. There is no real space to even ask broadening questions.

So why did I buy it? Because it bears study; on several fronts. And whether I borrow much of the good and/or use it as a foil—as an exemplar of a (group of) paradigm(s) or viewpoints—it will be valuable.

This is much like the Raber book in that it discusses a critical concept, [more on Raber] [finale] but much clearer on whose views are whom’s, and better argued. I have a lot of respect for Budd as a writer and a thinker, but this is far more rooted in a single meta-view than one might (I do) hope for, despite its seeming diversity within that view.

Monday, 7 Apr 2008

Carey, James W. 1992. Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society. New York: Routledge.  

  • Read Introduction and ch. 1: A Cultural Approach to Communication.

Wow! Can I just say, “Wow!” Recommended by Tom Dousa.

Carey pulls apart the concept of communication into two of its dominant metaphors, one of transmission/transportation and one as of ritual. That is, cultural.

From such sources one can draw a definition of communication of disarming simplicity yet, I think, of some intellectual power and scope: communication is a symbolic process whereby reality is produced, maintained, repaired, and transformed (23).

To study communication is to examine the actual social process wherein significant symbolic forms are created, apprehended, and used (30).

The widespread social interest in communication derives from a derangement in our models of communication and community. This derangement derives, in turn, from an obsessive commitment to a transmission view of communication and the derivative representation of communication in complementary models of power and anxiety. As a result, when we think about society, we are almost always coerced by our traditions into seeing it as a network of power, administration, decision, and control—as a political order. Alternatively, we have seen society essentially as relations of property, production, and trade—an economic order. But social life is more than power and trade (and it is more than therapy as well). As Williams has argued, it also includes the sharing of aesthetic experience, religious ideas, personal values and sentiments, and intellectual notions—a ritual order (34).

Carey may not have the answer, but he provides a useful counterforce to much; for instance, Budd above. Although Tom only really recommended the first chapter, I ordered myself a copy as it has lots of overlap with previous and current studies. And I’d love to see the ritual and magic of human communication taken a bit more seriously in our field. We have such primitive notions of communication in our field.

Wednesday – Friday, 9 – 11 Apr 2008

2007. Running & Philosophy: A Marathon for the Mind. Malden: Blackwell Pub. &nbnsp;

  • Foreword by Amber Burfoot
  • Preface: Warming Up Before the Race by Michael W. Austin, ed.
  • Ch. 1: Long-distance Running and the Will to Power by Raymond Angelo Belliotti
  • Ch. 2: Chasing Happiness Together: Running and Aristotle’s Philosophy of Friendship by Michael W. Austin (Thu)
  • Ch. 3: Running with the Seven Cs of Success by Gregory Bassham (Thu)
  • Ch. 4: The Phenomenology of Becoming a Runner by J. Jerry Wisnewski (Thu)
  • Ch. 5: In Praise of the Jogger by Raymond J. VanArragon (Fri)

Cataloged this a few weeks ago. Gave it time to get to Applied Health Sciences and then went and got it.

Started running again last week. I made it out last Saturday and again Monday. Then the weather got crappy (for running anyway) again. Definitely a fair weather runner but I need to get back into some kind of shape. I took a coupe years off due to my hip acting up, but it hasn’t bothered me for quite a while.

I tried to start up again last year but things just got in the way repeatedly and then it was hot. I will run when it’s hot but I have to acclimated to the heat first. Hopefully I will do better this year.

These essays are really helping me to be in the proper mindset to start running again. All of these things, and more, are, or at least can be, part of the experience of being a runner. I am looking forward to reading the rest of this. This is what replaced Budd as my current bus/lunch book.

Saturday, 12 Apr 2008

Dickinson, Liz. 1976. Of catalogs, computers, and communication: visions of the whole service catalog. Wilson Library Bulletin 463-470.

Given to me by Tom Dousa a couple days ago due to commentary on the catalog as communication tool. Highly dated but useful mini-critique of some of the issues with our catalogs and LCSH. Still. And of interest to me due to its explicit mention of library praxis as communication.

NOTE: WordPress’ formatting issues, even using the HTML editor, are biting me hard in this post. Notice how the variously formatted entries are snugged up against the citations. I have tried assorted fixes; some of which hold for short periods; none which work. There are other issues of format but that is the most virulent and most easily spotted. What sort of idiot would crowd those elements like that? Intentionally? Not me. I find this positively distressing.

Hmmm. They are printing just fine; I did a print test of this draft post for other reasons. Verified the display stupidity in Safari.

Going to have to edit my template’s stylesheet to place some “padding” around some of these elements in display. Although it wasn’t the template that changed. Grrr. More things broken by so-called technological “progress.”

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

Omega and Alpha

The end approaches and Tuesday I spent preparing for it.

A few weeks ago I sent in a petition to the Grad College to move my “additional” 2 hours from my MS (42 vs. 40-required) to my CAS. That was approved last Friday (Feb 1st).

Seeing as I had 72 completed hours that put me at 32 for the CAS and as I’m doing (fingers and toes crossed!) my 8-hour paper this semester I applied for (another) May graduation (also 40-required hours).

I did finish my Bibliography class last month but it remains ungraded so I will have an additional 4-hours at the end after all.

I also have what I continue to think of as an Incomplete (4-hrs.) but it is actually an F now. That could be changed if I could turn something in but that is looking unlikely. It is the independent study I was working on last spring on Terminology Services.

I’m still immensely interested in many aspects of the topic but even though my advisor and I went into the semester thinking I could probably do something she could grade we agreed Tuesday that I best just focus on my CAS paper. So I also filed a petition to have the grade changed to a W for Withdrawn. It’ll remain on the transcript—Independent Study will be so illuminating—but have no effect on my GPA. Current impact? OMG!!

[Of course, it’s all relative. As UIUC grads know, here an A- will reduce your GPA. I got one and it was deservedly so (last MS semester). So I had a 3.96 last graduation and now I have 3.76. Ouch!]

Don’t confront me with my failures.
I had not forgotten them.

Jackson Browne. These Days. For Everyman. [WorldCat]

I do actually have a terminologies idea but it is way too deep for a semester paper, especially if I’m actually trying to graduate ….

… and find a job. [I once ended up in the Army for quite awhile trying to avoid finding a job.]

As to the topic, I’m not even ready to talk about it here. I’ve put a couple of feelers out and I’m noticing bits here and there and trying my best to record them for now. My 1st coherent comments on the matter came in an IM conversation with my good buddy, Iris, who was so kind to “listen” as I tried to “say” something coherent. Thanks, Iris. All in all, all I have at the moment is one half of a hypothesis that seems pretty uncontroversial (but how it is fleshed out might well matter to some) and another half that is the vaguest hand waving in the direction of something that is hard to state even in skeletal form. To me it sounds like it couldn’t be the slightest bit controversial in skeletal form (but I know better). As to how it’d play if actually coherently fleshed out I cannot begin to say. But I sure as hell would like to.

I am pretty certain that what I am claiming is so. The question is whether or not the differences make a difference. Finding those differences will involve falling down a couple of rabbit holes once the descent of the current one begins to slow down.

Seems I now have a “research agenda” as a future academic librarian. I just need to find the job interview way of saying it. 🙁 Luckily I am pretty much there now with the current one, which I foresee going on for a long time, at least the Integrationism bit.

Which brings us back to the Alpha. It seems that I am officially on the job market and looking for a job. There is no way that I can rely on staying here no matter how many people might tell me they want me to stay. All I can say is “Show me the job(s)” then. Cause I’d be happy to stay for the right job.

One of the problems with UIUC is the fact that we have an LIS school and a large academic library (40 some odd truthfully). Lots of folks stick around here for assorted reasons—townies all along, spouse still in grad school, …. Despite the size of our library there are not that many full-time openings available, nor do they tend to hire our own grads.

But one of the benefits of being large is we get lots of grants and there are all sorts of grant-funded Visiting Professorships in the library. There might also be hourly work available, but that means no benefits, which might be OK if you have an employed spouse. I really have little doubt that I could stay, at least for a while.

I have told my bosses (and others) that as much as I’d like to stay I certainly do not have to. I also have no need to take any job just to stay. Nor will I.

Personally, I think I could do the institution a lot of good if they kept me around. Not just for UIUC or the Library but for GSLIS, too. Just an opinion, mind you.

I can go anywhere, technically. I have no restraints. I’m pretty certain I don’t want to be in a major city, though. Nor do I want to be at a school with 400 students in the middle of nowhere.

Most of the above was written a couple days ago but I am having a hard time finishing this as I need to be careful. I don’t want to seemingly rule something out so that someone on a search committee can say, “That describes us so he doesn’t even want to be here!”

I am a long way from applying for any jobs that I don’t want (as best as I can tell from all sources short of visiting). In fact, I doubt I’ll get to that point. That behavior has never made sense to me.

Of course, telling what kind of job it really is based on a job ad/description is a crap shoot of the highest order.

So. I want an academic position; tenure is not important. I could take it or leave it. I will pursue continuing opportunities to learn about interesting things and to share that with others via formal and informal publishing whether or not I am required to do so.

I want to do cataloging/metadata work, preferably descriptive and classificatory work of resources more towards the individual end than in the aggregate. Vocabulary work and other forms of classificatory structures are also on the table.

Serials do not scare me. In fact, that is where most of my current experience lies, although I also do monographs now. I do not think I am ready to be an electronic resources librarian but I do hope to learn more of what I need to feel qualified, along with many other things that I am interested in but have little or no experience with yet.

Working with people who are interesting, hopefully fun, and who are actively engaged in helping each other learn their craft so as to provide better service to their patrons and to move the profession forward are all important. I am not out to save the world (20 years in the Army demonstrated the futility of that endeavor) but I do want to make it a better one.

Anyone knowing of anything they think I might be interested in is welcome to point me towards them. 🙂

Some things read this week, 20 – 26 January 2008

Sunday, 20 Jan 2008

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

Re-read for bibliography.

Monday, 21 Jan 2008

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 22 Jan 2008

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

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

Wednesday – Thursday, 23-24 Jan 2008

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

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

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

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

Friday – Saturday, 25 – 26 Jan 2008

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 26 Jan 2008

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Spring 2008 courses, 1st impression

Officially, I am registered for one 8-hour “class” this semester, LIS593 CAS Project.

Individual study of a problem in library or information science; forms the culmination of the Certificate of Advanced Study program. Only 8 hours will apply to the CAS degree [catalog].

As to what I’m doing there pick pretty much any post from last year, but especially starting mid-May. Or, perhaps this is best?

More on this topic <patented hand-waving> in the future </ patented hand-waving>.

Besides working 60% which is beginning to seem like a lot again, I am sitting in on 2 seminars. There are several of us nuts in each of them and some folks actually taking the classes for grades.

Both are on Tuesday, which is my only non-work day, in the afternoon and at night. Both are on campus. I love my distance peeps but I am a bad LEEP student.

590SA Topics in Subject Access : Pauline Cochrane and Kathryn La Barre

An advanced topics seminar in subject access and subject analysis that covers a range of topics including aspects of the traditional bibliographic canon regarding OPACS, the challenge of universal subject access in a digital world, ongoing discussions about Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), new search and discovery tools (including experimentations with hybrid folksonomic and corporate taxonomic approaches (syllabus version). [catalog]

Pauline is emphasizing the duality between subject access and subject analysis, as she says there “is a split in focus in library science [specifically]; these two vantage points are our heritage.”

Early readings/assignments include reading 2 chapters from her festschrift (Wheeler). We’re reading Robert Fugmann, “Obstacles in Progress in Mechanized Subject Access and the Necessity of a Paradigm Change,” and our own Linda Smith’, “Subject Access in Interdisciplinary Research.” I’m not sure if I’ve read the Fugmann but the Smith is excellent. I’ve read it at least 3 times before.

There is another assignment that involves the Clinic book but I am not concerned with doing it.

Readings for next week are the 2 chapters of the festschrift I previously listed, and 2 from Visualizing …: Elizabeth D. Liddy’s “Natural Language Processing for Information Retrieval and Knowledge Discovery” and Joseph A Busch’s “Building and Accessing Vocabulary Resources for Networked Resource Discovery and Navigation.”

Wheeler, William J, ed. 2000. Saving the Time of the Library User Through Subject Access Innovation: Papers in Honor of Pauline Atherton Cochrane. Champaign, IL: Publications Office, Graduate School of Library and Information Science. [WorldCat]

Clinic on Library Applications of Data Processing, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 1998. Visualizing Subject Access for 21st Century Information Resources. Eds. Pauline A Cochrane and Eric H Johnson. Champaign, IL: Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. [WorldCat]

We also are reading an unpublished paper (1979) of Pauline’s on universal subject access and advising her on its suitability for publication today as a means to think about these issues and, I would add, historically and contemporarily.

590OD Ontology Development : Allen Renear

An introduction to formal ontology focusing on development and implementation issues and contemporary ontology software tools and languages. In spring of 2008 we will use as example ontologies one for museum and heritage information (CIDOC-CRM) and one for biological information (the Functional Model of Anatomy). Students may also do projects on other ontologies in other areas if they wish. The ontology editor Protege will be used throughout and the representation of ontologies in W3C semantic web languages RDF(S) and OWL will be emphasized. [catalog]

This is an odd class for Allen as it involves a hands-on component using Protégé to view, edit, build ontologies. Protégé is a free, open-source ontology editor.

Some of the topics we will be becoming “familiar” with are RDF and OWL, which I certainly need more knowledge of.

Related miscellanea

On a side note, I’m thinking of taking the TEI workshop again later in Feb. I did it 2 years ago on my birthday weekend. The then draft P5 version was formalized this past year so it can’t hurt to have a look again over a weekend.

While in one sense, these classes are completely extraneous to me, although in a larger sense they are important. Luckily I’ll have the flexibility to commit any level of effort, including none, to them. I foresee far more than none most of the time, though. Time will tell.

Technically, I still have an incomplete for my vocabularies independent study from last spring. Four hours. In truth, those 4 hours along with those from Bibliography will be extra hours when completed. This needs to be cleaned up as it has finally turned to an F. There is also the possibility of having it dropped, or more likely changed to Withdrawal.

I am hoping that one of these 2 classes will inspire me to spit out “a school assignment” somehow on the topic of vocabularies that I can turn in to be graded. I’d still really like to do what I had planned all along, but it will not happen, now.

Somehow it seems likely one or both will generate a topic. But will it be one that I can just generate something from? Something of quality, of course. But. Normal-sized.

Is it now the right thing at the wrong time, or…

… the wrong thing at the right time, or, perhaps, can it just be there are too many right things to do at overlapping right times?

I know I haven’t fully explicated my bibliography topic yet but a potential change has arisen already. This change is both negative and beneficial; as most changes are. [And as many who ardently advocate for change seem too often to ignore.]

I have chosen a “topic” of immense interest to me which will also allow me to pursue it (reading sequence, primarily) in a fundamentally different way. The topic is (much of) the work of one specific author who writes in areas of immense interest and importance to me. They often write about the larger issues, or at least situate their thoughts in context with the larger issues, argue for making our epistemologies (and assumptions) explicit, and argue for an explicit epistemological basis which I am clearly drawn to.

This person is also going to be visiting GSLIS in the near future and will also be at ASIS&T Annual. This will provide me several opportunities to talk with them. And while at ASIS&T I will also be able to speak with some of the other folks with whom my author has been engaged with in their own slice of “the grand discussion.”

I have spent quite a few hours and a score or two of $$ collecting, adding to Zotero, and printing the fairly sizeable output of my author, along with beginning my reading program “from the beginning,” as one might say.

Sounds just about perfect, doesn’t it? What could possibly be wrong?

Well, I am a CAS student, which means I have to do an 8 semester hour “project” as a capstone to my degree. I had always been hoping to do something a tad (or lot) more projecty than a large paper. The large paper was always, of course, a fall back since one of those is always imminently doable.

The final eight hours are the CAS project, a substantive investigation of a problem in librarianship or information science, which is followed by a final oral examination [from the CAS program description].

When I first signed up for Bibliography this fall several months back I was hoping to know what my project was going to be so I could work on my lit review, in particular. I began the semester without a project topic (as I was fully afraid that I might).

As many of you know—from my reading lists and otherwise—I maintain several deep interests at the same time. I imagine many of you do, too. That is one of the stereotypical traits of librarians that gets far less airplay than, say, love of cats.

Back in May or so, David Bade turned me on to the Oxford linguist/philosopher Roy Harris. [Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, David!] I have since read 6 of his books and am currently reading a 7th. I also have 4 more sitting at home. I have recently ordered 3 others from Amazon (2 have arrived).

Harris is a leading figure in integrational linguistics or, simply, Integrationism.

While I have some recorded stabs at thesis or problem statements [that I’m not ready to share], it ought [it seems to me] to be abundantly clear to everyone that everything we do in libraries, librarianship, and/or information science is based upon the use of language. I have so far found no way in which to take this as completely uncontroversial.

In some ways, though, it may not be entirely self-evident. On this point, I am a bit divided. I cannot personally see how it could not be self-evident, but I am unsure whether that is the case for everyone [in LIS].

Subject description and assignment, indexing, thesauri and ontologies (controlled vocabularies of all types), information retrieval (of any kind), librarian as intermediary/gatekeeper, relevance, user query statements, query expansion, …. Really, is there anything we do which is not based upon the use of language?

Honestly, that question is a little naïve. The same could be asked about lots of arenas of life. But considering how vastly broad the domain of LIS is—both theory and practice—I can think of nothing so completely dependent on language.

So the question now becomes, “What is the LIS view(s) of language?” Once we admit to the radical dependency upon language for a field involved in the use of recorded data/information/knowledge this seems a fairly basic question. Have any of you ever asked it?

On the [what I consider to an extremely off-] chance that you’ve ever asked it of yourself, did you ever try to get outside the “metalinguistic framework” of the educated Westerner (or of orthodox linguistics, which is founded on the same)? Did you even try to try to answer it based simply on your supposedly naïve sense of being a lay user of language? Probably not, to either of those questions.

The integrational critique has serious implications for our discipline. Deeply fundamental implications. If I thought I was the person to even begin to address them I would petition to change to the Ph.D. program immediately. Unfortunately [in this case], I am not even remotely as bright as some of my friends seem to think. If I was then perhaps I could actually produce a dissertation that was one of the rare few that actually adds to scholarship. I would so love to be able to do so. But, it is not to be. I am simply not this bright.

I can easily see how wedded our field is to orthodox linguistics, I can easily find examples across every aspect of our field to show this is the case, I can (soon) produce a good overview of the integrational critique of orthodox linguistics, I can see many of the implications this critique holds for our field.

Unfortunately, I cannot see them to the depth to which they truly go. Nor can I yet even begin to see what choice we have but to act as if orthodox linguistics is “correct” in our actual practice. And while I do think this admission is a start, as it implies that we’ve acknowledged the issue of reliance on a completely bankrupt theory of language, I do not particularly want to argue for a [further?] separation of our theory from practice.

I want to be able to “see” what a full embrace of integrationism might mean for the theory and practice of LIS! And without other people paving much of the way I am simply not that person. I certainly do not know all of my limits but this is one of them.

Based on my applying for jobs before I was particularly ready to [I’d prefer to be done with this degree] the question of how exactly I would finish my CAS [time frame, mostly] arose. I have a total of 5 years [started May 2006] so the 8 hr. project could be done over an extended period. Over the last few months as this issue arose in my mind—and I read more and more Harris books—I came to think that maybe it could be addressed if I took the longer route inherent in starting a job before completion. I thought that I couldn’t possibly do it in a semester. But after my talk with my advisor the other day I have decided that, yes, I can.

So. Perhaps I have my CAS project topic.

Without going into any more detail [I hadn’t intended to. Yet.] it seems to me that I ought to switch my bibliography topic to Integrationism and Harris in particular.

What to do? What to do?

I imagine that I will still be really interested in my first topic for quite a while. I even think that if there is a way to “harmonize” integrationism and LIS then this author’s views are the (currently) only beginnings.

If I change my topic then I will certainly still be able to engage with my author while visiting us (as I had fully intended before I chose the topic anyway!) and at ASIS&T. My questions will just take a broader focus than before. While the $ spent on printing would become a currently “unnecessary” expense I really have no problems with it. It is all in binders in (primarily) chronological order and will be easily accessible in the future. At hand, so to speak.

Long and perhaps rambling. But maybe now you see the context for the opening questions. It seems to be another case of too many right things to do at overlapping right times. 🙁

How is one to do the right thing at the right time when they conflict with what is actually doable?

Sure. I could put off the reading of more Harris until after the semester. Except for it isn’t happening that way. Or I could just keep on with my pleasure reading of Harris and put the more serious considerations off for spring. But unlike my current author, Harris has written both a ton of articles and a ton of books. I really need to be paying better (i.e. explicit, notated) attention to where I see connections between Harris and LIS.

What am I to do? It’s not too late but a decision needs to be made.