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.

LC Working Group – Structures and Standards, part 1 – Welcome

Note: Some commentary will be provided (by me) via notes from another attendee, Kathryn La Barre. I will do my best to give proper attribution when necessary, but if she is really just corroborating something I remember easily enough then probably not. I will give attribution to all folks as best I can from between Kathryn’s and my notes but I know I often did not catch who was asking a question. If someone notices any improper attributions please feel free to ask me to fix it. I will also attempt to [bracket] off any editorial comments, or make them explicit in other ways.

Not sure how many posts this will take—I have 13 pages of single-spaced typed notes from Kathryn and 21 pages of hand-written notes (mostly slide “reproductions”) in my notebook—but, I begin….

Structures and Standards for Bibliographic Control

The 2nd meeting of the Library of Congress’ Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control was held Wednesday, May 9 2007, at ALA Headquarters in Chicago. The topic was Structures and Standards for Bibliographic Control.

The meeting opened with Keith Michael Fiels, Executive Director of ALA, welcoming us all. Both this meeting and the previous were videotaped for possible cybercast at the Library of Congress. No indication was made if they might be made publicly available.

[It also seems to be the case that the papers and public testimony from the 1st meeting, nor this one, are not publicly available. This would be an immense public service, and while perhaps not required by law it should be the case. As much information as possible from this process should be publicly available. One use of this material would be to guide those not able to attend as they submit written testimony to the Working Group.]

Deanna Marcum, Associate Librarian for Library Services at the Library of Congress, provided another welcome and an overview of the public meeting process. The working group first met last November and had expected to meet a few times and issue a report. They quickly realized they needed input from outside the group and added 3 meetings around the country. The 1st was in Mountain View, CA (at Google) in March (Users and Uses of Bibliographic Data [brief summary]), the 2nd May 9th at ALA in Chicago (Structures and Standards for Bibliographic Data), and the 3rd will be July 9th in the DC area (Economics and Organization of Bibliographic Data).

The Library of Congress is working on their own strategic plan for the future. There are 38 groups, one of which is looking at bibliographic control. A report (treatise) from another group on the history of bibliographic control going back to 2000 BC will be released to the public. [When?]

José-Marie Griffiths, Dean of the UNC School of Information and Library Science, and Chair of this working group gave us a 3rd welcome and reminded us that the working group is at the “information gathering” stage, with a report due to Deanna Marcum in November.

She commented that this process is part of a larger question for those of us in the academic community (LIS education), i.e. what do we need to do to ensure graduates are equipped for the workforce? Traditional indexing and cataloging courses are declining in number. What are the implications for education? [from Kathryn’s notes]

She then read through the working group’s charge:

  • Present findings on how bibliographic control and other descriptive practices can effectively support management of and access to library materials in the evolving information and technology environment
  • Recommend ways in which the library community can collectively move toward achieving this vision
  • Advise the Library of Congress on its role and priorities [source]

She commented on the 2 user groups that were identified during the March meeting—consumers and managers—but noted that it is really a spectrum of users. Editorial aside: If so, then say so explicitly! That user “dichotomy” bothered me from the moment I saw it. What am I as a serials cataloger? Surely I am a consumer while I try to determine if a record exists, proper form of entries, etc. While at the same time, I am “managing” some information (functionally), although I do not think of myself as a manager by any stretch. This point was made by others during the day.

She then introduced the Working Group members who were present. [I find it rather telling that there is a small picture on the main Working Group page of the members [all of them?], but no easily available listing. Doing a web search turns up this page, but my point is that we should not have to search. That list should be prominently available from the main Working Group page. I am frequently sadly reminded that information/knowledge organizers are as bad at that as Signal Corps folks in the Army are at communicating. We can get the tech right, but not necessarily the communicative act.]

Brian Schottlaender, Working Group member and today’s moderator. Introduced the issues with the pull quote from Joe Janes’ column in the April 2007 American Libraries entitled “W(h)ither Print?”

If you’re being honest with yourself, you know something nontrivial is afoot.

Submitting written testimony

Several people reminded us throughout the day that the Working Group is taking written testimony. Marcum, perhaps, suggested that they would do so through at least the 3rd meeting on July 9th. The website states July 15th.

I highly encourage anyone and everyone to do so! All written testimony must be sent to Dr. José-Marie Griffiths. Contact info on this page.

There is also a Contact Page for the Working Group, but I am unsure of its purpose.

Remember, though, all testimony (such a fancy word, eh? Input, comments, concerns,…) needs to go to Dr. Griffiths. Please do so! Particularly those of you in the public, special and school libraries. As you will see (eventually), it was noted that there was little representation from, of, or by, these communities. Do not let your voices and concerns go unheard.

Next up, David Bade…