Archive for June 2011

Domain analysis of KO

I’ve been taking little bites of domain analysis of KO, working my way through conference proceedings, and as CFPs allow, taking other bites as well (the legacy of Two kinds of power was one, and north American pioneers was another). This year I presented what was supposed to be a meta-analysis at CAIS. Unfortunately, CAIS has got this new procedure whereby you don’t really write a paper, so, there’s no paper, sorry. Just an extended abstract.

Here’s the citation, and the abstract of the abstract:

“Domain Coherence within Knowledge Organization: People, Interacting Theoretically, Across Geopolitical and Cultural Boundaries.” In McKenzie, Pam, Catherine Johnson and Sarah Stevenson eds., Exploring Interactions of People, Places and Information, Proceedings of the 39th Annual CAIS/ACSI Conference, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, N.B. Canada, June 2-4, 2011.

Domain analysis is the study of the evolution of discourse within research communities. Domain analytical studies of knowledge organization are here drawn together for meta-analysis to demonstrate coherence of theoretical poles within the domain. Despite geopolitical and cultural diversity, the domain shows theoretical coherence.

Here’s a colorful visualization of the intension and extension of the domain. It shows us coherence within the domain, despite geographical distinctions. There also a shift from emphasis on universal bibliographic classifications to increasing granularity as the Internet imposes new challenges, from 1993 onward.

Flimsy Fabric and Epistemic Presumptions

In two papers on authorship, my colleagues Hur-Li Lee and Hope Olson and I have been working out the intricate relationship between the iconic concept of attribution of responsibility, which seems to be the western notion, and the classificatory pillar, which seems to be the (what shall I say here?) non-western notion (derived in our papers from classic Chinese practice, and from what we can discern from the record of Callimichus).

What we see, however, is that “author,” even (or especially) in Anglo-American cataloging practice, is not about attribution, but about creating an alphabetico-classed arrangement of works. It gives a whole new twist to the concept of classification, but also to the comprehension of what often is called “bibliographic” description, which, it turns out, isn’t.

Here are the citations and the abstracts:

“The Flimsy Fabric of Authorship,” by Richard P. Smiraglia, Hur–‐Li Lee and Hope Olson. In Ménard, Elaine and Nesset, Valerie, eds., Information Science: Synergy through Diversity, Proceedings of the 38th Annual CAIS/ACSI Conference, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec. June 2-4 2010. http://www.cais–‐

This paper is about authorship, its influence on bibliography and how that influence is reflected in cataloging across cultures. Beginning with Foucault’s question “what is an author”, it proceeds to demonstrate, through an examination of cataloging standards, that it is the role that is represented rather than true intellectual responsibility.

“Epistemic Presumptions of Authorship,” Richard P. Smiraglia, Hur-Li Lee, Hope A. Olson. iConference’11, February 8–11, 2011, Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. ACM 1-58113-000-0/00/0010

The major concern of this paper is the cultural ramification of the bibliographic conception of “authorship.” Beginning with Foucault’s question “what is an author” and his notion of an author as a cultural phenomenon, the paper proceeds to examine the treatment of authorship in cataloging practices of two ancient cultures, the Greek and the Chinese, as well as in the modern Anglo-American cataloging standards from Panizzi’s 91 rules to the draft of Resource Description and Access (RDA). An author, as the study shows, is constructed as part of the recognition of “a work” as an essential communicative social entity. All cataloging practices and standards examined, east or west, ancient or modern, exhibit a similar obsessive attitude toward the imposition of an author, be it only a name or a culturally identified entity responsible for the work. In fact, the study demonstrates that as far as cataloging is concerned authorship is the role that is represented rather than any true intellectual responsibility.

A third paper has been accepted for an issue of Library Trends.

NASKO musings

The 3rd North American Symposium on Knowledge Organization (the biennial conference of the ISKO chapter for Canada and the United States) was just held in Toronto at Ryerson University. It was an exciting conference, replete with emerging science from several directions, and several continents as well. There were 40 or 50 people present for the two days, and 20 or so of them gave papers. It was all fascinating. I haven’t had any time to analyze the proceedings in any way, which I will do eventually. My perceptions at this point therefore are more personal.

It was exciting to see how the chapter has grown, and also to see the very high-level of research the symposium attracted. It was also exciting to see so many of my students all in one place, as well as to connect with colleagues from all over. Here are a couple of photos. This is a photo of my participating doctoral students (L-R: Sergey Zherebchevsky, Christine Marchese, Elizabeth Milonas, from Long Island, and Melodie Fox, and Jihee Beak, from IOrg at SOIS, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee).

Elizabeth gave a paper on Wittgenstein and web facets, which was referred to continuously afterward by the other speakers, which just shows she’s on to something. Melodie gave a fascinating paper on prototype theory, which she used analytically on the case of categorizing sex and gender. Her paper was one of the four highest ranking papers at the symposium. Jihee gave a paper on metadata schema for children’s digital libraries in which emotion, frame, and genre played a special role. In all three cases I have to say I can’t wait for the next papers!

It also was gratifying to be able to stand alongside some former students who now are colleagues. In this photo I’m standing with Jane Greenberg, who now is Professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and David Jank, Assistant Professor at Long Island University.

Jane was not my doctoral student; she was a student in the long-ago program (brilliant of days then) at Columbia University. She has used some of my research in innovative ways to inform her own work, most directly with regard to life-cycle modeling, which is another way of looking at instantiation. Jane and I have been working on a meta-analytical paper for awhile, and we had great fun presenting a 90-minute exploration of instantiation in workshop form at the symposium. David was my doctoral student; he graduated a year ago and has survived his first post-doctoral year of professoring and is still standing. He brought a poster on curricular issues, which was (interestingly enough) one of two presentations at the symposium on teaching KO.

Christine (in the photo above) graciously acceded to my request to follow everybody around and photograph them; those photos are in an album on Facebook (

I digress, I suppose. My overall impression is that we sure have a vibrant domain, and it certainly is inspiring to be able to spend a couple of days with all of these folks thinking together. I’m looking forward to more such opportunities.

Posted June 19, 2011 by lazykoblog in ISKO-C/US

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