Long time gone

[This post title is, for me, multi-meta in that it refers to several things.]

It has been a long time since I’ve been here. Part of me is sad about this fact and part of me thinks that is just fine.

A lot has happened since I last wrote here:

I quit my job as a serials cataloger at the University of Illinois so I could concentrate on (then) upcoming weddings and our move.

Sara and I were married in late May in a small but wonderful ceremony amongst family and friends in a cabin on the banks of the Sangamon River.

At the very beginning of June I started prepping for our move to Sioux City, Iowa.

A couple of weeks later, my daughter got married in Oberlin, Ohio in an even simpler, but absolutely lovely and moving, ceremony to a wonderful young man that I couldn’t be prouder to be related to.

On the evening of 3 July we left Urbana, IL and headed for Sioux City. As of 4 July we are residents of Sioux City. This is a vastly different place  than Urbana-Champaign, in so many ways. We are still getting it sorted out but we will.

We had a good week and a half before Sara had to start her job and we made good use of it. Sara worked for 3 days and then we took a vacation to the Black Hills of South Dakota to spend some time in a couple of cabins with some friends of Sara’s from high school and their respective significant others and children. On the way home we drove through the Badlands. I have a couple of pictures up but I have 100s more to be tagged, labeled, decided upon and uploaded. Suffice it to say that it was beautiful! And being the against much of pop culture fiend that I am, we skipped Wall Drug (unfortunately not the signs though), Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse.

Once back Sara got back to work and is enjoying learning the ropes of this vastly different, and vastly smaller, university. I got back to work on organizing the house, merging two large book collections, much of which was in storage, along with merging two large CD collections, of which all of hers were in storage. There is still a bit to do on all the house organizing fronts but it is definitely getting there.

Shortly after we got here we bought ourselves a 32″ LG HDTV with built-in netflix streaming so we’ve been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and some other things.

We’ve been taking an online class on HTML5 via SitePoint and in a few weeks will take one on CSS3. They were $9.95 each! So the last 2 weeks that is what we’ve been doing in the evenings when Sara gets home from work. (And, yes, I know the CSS3 course says it is $14.95 but by signing up for both at the same time we got a $5 discount!) I think that for the price they are quite good. As with any class it is (mostly) about what you put in to it.

Speaking of courses, Briar Cliff University has a 100% tuition remission policy for spouses so I’ll be taking a 1 credit class this fall called Madwomen Poets. About all I know about it is that it includes Sexton and Plath. But who cares what, if anything, else it might be? Who could ignore a class entitled Madwomen poets?

I know. I know. I’m supposed to be doing other things, “more important” things. And I am. But it is 50 minutes, 1 day/week. I figure it’ll help keep my mental chops in order. And at this point I still don’t know if I’ll be taking it for a grade or auditing.

As to that more  important stuff … I am ramping back up the work on my CAS thesis via several angles of attack. I am working on the paper proper and I am also working on a journal article, which will be highly related (as in with a little reworking can become a chapter), and I am thinking about trying to come up with a presentation for a conference in early December. The conference is “Semantics for Robots: Utopian and Dystopian Visions in the Age of the ‘Language Machine’. ‘The Language Machine’ is one of Roy Harris’ early books, of course.

As for conferences, I am really sad that I will not be able to attend ASIS&T in Pittsburgh this year. But seeing as we gave up about $40k in income with me not working there is little means of justifying the expense of travel and lodging. And, honestly, the registration cost is plain crazy for an unemployed non-student, non-retiree.

Sara and I decided that the Integrationist conference in Chicago in December, along with being far cheaper, is really more where I need to be right now. I need exposure to more Integrationists and Integrational thinking and I will get far more out of a small conference (as I always do) than a bigger one. Whether or not I can get something submitted (and possibly accepted) I am highly looking forward to it. Nonetheless, this will be the 1st ASIS&T I’ve missed since I started going in 2006.

And if any of my Chicago friends are reading this, I’d adore an invite to stay with you for a couple days in early December (2nd-4th, or so), especially if you are near the Univ. of Chicago.

Tomorrow night we are, thanks to a surprise from Sara, going to see Jackson Browne and David Lindley and the historic Orpheum Theatre here in Sioux City. I have been listening to (early) Jackson Browne for close to 40 years now. I haven’t really kept up with anything since the mid-80s or so but, nonetheless, I am stoked to finally get to see him live for the first time.

We also have a Super Secret Date night scheduled for Sunday night. Sara had that lined up well before we left Urbana. She offered me the chance to find out what it’ll be last night but I passed. I like the surprises! She’s done so well every time in the past. And it also makes me aware that it is past time for me to step up in the Super Secret Date Night scheduling department.

And in case anyone who cares isn’t aware of it yet, my son is in Afghanistan for his 3rd war zone tour. He left just days after we moved. Grrrr.

I guess I best end this for now. It is getting long and the simple shock of seeing a post from me is probably enough already. With any hope I won’t be gone as long before the next time.

Some things read this week, 19 – 25 August 2007

Saturday evening, 18 Aug

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

Finally got back to some of this.

Sunday, 19 Aug

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interesting stuff, nonetheless.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 21 Aug

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

Wednesday, 22 Aug

Litwin, Rory. Library Juice Concentrate. See above.

Began Section Two: Librarianship: Professional Issues. Read:

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 23 Aug

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

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

Friday, 24 Aug

Harris and Hutton. See above.

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

Litwin. See above.

Finished Section Two: Librarianship: Professional Issues. Read:

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

Read all of these in their original manifestations, also.

Saturday, 25 Aug

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

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

Litwin. See above.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ASIS&T 2007 Annual Meeting program posted

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, Oct. 21

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

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

Monday, Oct. 22

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

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

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

Tues, Oct. 23

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

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

Mid-afternoon: Social epistemology in LIS.

Late afternoon also seems kind of open for now.

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

Wed, Oct. 24

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

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

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

Mid-morning: Plenary with Clifford Lynch.

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

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

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

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

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: http://dlist.sir.arizona.edu/1897

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, 3 – 9 June 2007

Monday, 4 Jun

Young, Naomi Kietzke. “Formal Serials Education: A Problem We Can’t Solve or a Solution We Can Live With?” Serials Review 31(2), 2005: 82-89. doi:10.1016/j.serrev.2005.02.011

Johnson, Kay G. “Serials—The Constant Midlife Crisis.” Serial Review 32, 2006: 35-39. doi:10.1016/j.serrev.2005.11.002

Goldberg, Tyler and Neal Nixon. “Serials Control: Past, Present and Future Imperfect.” Serials Review 31(3), 2005: 206-209. doi:10.1016/j.serrev.2005.06.004

Tumlin, Michael and 8 contributors. “Everything I Need to Know About Serials I Didn’t Learn in Library School.” The Balance Point (column). Serials Review 29 (1), 2003: 26-35.

Cited by Young and by Goldberg & Nixon, see above.

Rothstein, Samuel. “Why People Really Hate Library Schools.” Library Journal April 1, 1985: 41-48.

Cited by Young, see above (except she mangled the citation).

Tuesday, 5 Jun

Bush, Vannevar. “As We May Think.” The Atlantic Monthly July 1945.

I know, I know. But if I’m going to critique someone for making Bush references I need to make sure exactly what I’m critiquing.

Wolf, George and Nigel Love, eds. Linguistics Inside Out: Roy Harris and His Critics. Amsterdam Studies in the Theory and History of Linguistic Science. Series IV, Current Issues in Linguistic Theory, v. 148. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing, 1997.

Read the preface and prologue; looks quite interesting.

As I mentioned previously, Roy Harris has been put on temporary hold as I read some of the papers and extended abstracts for the 1st NASKO Conference just posted to dLIST today.

Green, R. and Fallgren, N. (2007). Anticipating new media: A faceted classification of material types. Proceedings of the North American Symposium on Knowledge Organization. Vol. 1. Available: http://dlist.sir.arizona.edu/1911

Abbas, J. (2007). In the margins: Reflections on scribbles, knowledge organization, and access. (extended abstract) Proceedings of the North American Symposium on Knowledge Organization. Vol. 1. Available: http://dlist.sir.arizona.edu/1914

Wednesday, 6 Jun

Pimentel, D. M. (2007). Exploring classification as conversation. Proceedings of the North American Symposium on Knowledge Organization. Vol. 1. Available: http://dlist.sir.arizona.edu/1893

I have some issues with this one. Not necessarily the idea of classification as conversation, but more so with some of the things that are said to be conversational. Many of us have expressed reservations about just how much conversation takes place, say, in blogs. Some happens, of course. But just how much and of what quality and depth?

At one point the author writes, “A great deal of conversational exchange occurs on the blogosphere, and other Web 2.0 phenomena are similarly conversationally oriented” (3-4) Support for the claim in the 1st clause comes from this note, “As of May 2007, Technorati claims to track 80.3 million blogs – http://technorati.com/about/” (7).

OK, that’s a fair few blogs. But what exactly does a large number do to support the claim of a “great deal of conversational exchange”? Not a darn thing! It simply assumes what it is being used to support.

There is some possibility here with some of the things mentioned and I agree we need some (lots) of research along these lines. I just worry that what “conversation” is supposed to mean here is extremely diluted. In other words, it makes of “conversation” as it relates to true conversation what social networks make of “friends” in relation to true friendship. I’ll track some of its sources and see what I can discover. Depending on what it’s up against I may try and attend this one.

Feinberg, M. (2007). Beyond retrieval: A proposal to expand the design space of classification. Proceedings of the North American Symposium on Knowledge Organization. Vol. 1. Available: http://dlist.sir.arizona.edu/1892

Thursday, 7 Jun

Talja, Sanna, Kimmo Tuominen and Reijo Savolainen. “”Isms” in Information Science: Constructivism, Collectivism and Constructionism.” Journal of Documentation 61 (1), 2005: 79-101.

Cited by Pimentel above.

Friday, 8 Jun

Dervin, Brenda and Michael Nilan. “Information Needs and Uses.” Annual Review of Information Science and Technology 21, 1986. 3-33.

Cited by Pimentel above. Also read based on recommendations from Christina Pikas.

Chudnov, Daniel, Richard Cameron, Jeremy Frumkin, Ross Singer and Raymond Yee. “Opening up OpenURLs with Autodiscovery.” Ariadne Issue 43.

Ooh, ooh. This is just the sort of thing I spoke with Dan about after his presentation at NASIG. I’ll be writing more about my desires in this area later, but for now I’m trying to do some reading so I can write half-assed intelligently.

Seriously though, these weekly entries are literally crying out for some solution other than simple text in a blog entry. I tried adding a COinS for an entry earlier in the week using the COinS generator but WordPress just kept screwing it up completely. Even if it did work, it simply is not scalable. I want to enter my readings into Zotero and then do a right-click on the entry that will dump a COinS into my blog post. I also want them formatted so users local OpenURL servers will pick them up for use in their local context.

A boy can dream, can’t he? And honestly, if we can’t make these sorts of things work then we may well become as irrelevant to users as some claim we already are.

Saturday, 9 Jun

Lankes, R. David, Joanne Silverstein and Scott Nicholson. “Participatory Networks: The Library as Conversation.” Produced for the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy. [pdf]

Cited by Pimentel above. Also read due to my trying to understand other views of communication.

Based on G. Pask’s Conversation Theory. Based on the limited interpretations of this that I’ve read so far it seems like a decent enough theory, but I have my concerns, too. According to the pieces I’ve read so far, knowledge (and learning) is created through conversational exchanges between cognizing agents. “So, a conversation can be between two people, two countries, or even within an individual” (Lankes, et al., 6).

OK, since when can a nation or an organization be a cognizing agent? What silly view of cognition is this? Colloquial speech is a dangerous thing when brought wholesale into a theory.

Also, is conversation the only way to learning and knowledge? Also, just what is meant by knowledge here? None of these authors say. Clearly, it is a social form of knowledge. Does this theory hold that social knowledge is the only kind of knowledge?

Never enough time to trace out the things of interest to me.

Also discussed by Lauren Pressley at lauren’s library blog.

Svenonius, Elaine. “Classification: Prospects, Problems and Possibilities.” In Williamson, N.J. and M. Hudon, eds. Classification Research for Knowledge Representation and Organization, Proceedings of the 5th International Study Conference on Classification Research, Toronto, Canada, June 24-28, 1991. FID 698. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1992

This is the Keynote for this conference. Also cited by Pimentel (above).

I love it when I already have a library book here at home with a cited article in it.

Looks at the influence of logical positivism, linguistic analysis (Wittgenstein of The Investigations), and systems analysis on classification research.