Archive for the ‘domain analysis’ Category

Sinecure and credentialism

I’ve been reading a book by Randall Collins. His book The Sociology of Philosophies (1998) made a major impact on me. In a direct way, and it was for this reason a dutch colleague referred me to the book, his demonstration of splits and concretizings of intellectual circles gave us an hypothesis to use in domain analytical research. It boiled down to the notion that no school of thought can tolerate more than six theoretical paradigms (or ideas if you prefer) at once without either splitting apart (schism, as it were) or ejecting competing points of view until a tolerable level is restored. I first went looking for this in the evolving domain of music information retrieval and sure enough, as a new research interest it opened its arms widely and expanded rapidly, but once query-by-humming had been achieved the society (it had been first a symposium, but at this point it became a society with bylaws, officers, and a scope statement) quickly reigned in acceptable research. Others have found similar evidence (Hoeffner in Social informatics, for example, LIU diss. 2012).

It’s a marvelous book all by itself of course, if very long. The critical realization I had while reading it was that I had spent almost two decades working with doctoral students who not only were not forming a school of thought around my work, but likely would never conduct any research after their dissertations, and certainly would never contribute to growth of my theory of instantiation. (Although, to be fair, near the end of my time at LIU several students did take up domain analysis and contribute to the cumulative effect of domain analytic research in knowledge organization, although to the best of my knowledge none of them has conducted or published any follow-up work.) And with that I determined to move elsewhere while I still had energy to take on new students.

Somewhere last fall I read about Collins’ much shorter 1979 work The Credential Society, and I’ve just finished reading it after proudly hauling it to Copenhagen, Heraklion, Amsterdam and back. It also is a remarkable work, hence this post, and I think it will have something to contribute to domain analysis, although at present I’m not quite sure how.

The book is about the myth of technocracy, that as society evolves and technology becomes more complex and we become ever more highly educated so as to deal with technology and (here’s the myth) therefore society gets better, people get richer, everything becomes more egalitarian, etc., etc. You’ll recognize the myth. In a short 220some pages Collins shatters this myth, demonstrating that no amount of education has made any difference and neither has technology. In fact, the only evidence about career and social status that makes sense is the age-old truth that (male) children follow in their father’s footsteps in both career and social status. I know, you want to protest, and so do I. My parents weren’t professors (but, my biological father was a musician and my biological maternal great-grandfather was an ordained pastor … hmmm). As usual, I’m not doing the book justice, you’ll have to read it.

Two things stood out for me. First the notion that we have accomplished a sinecure society. Sinecure, he writes, means literally “without care” and refers to a job in which there is actually little work. Collins points out that society has succeeded at installing a sinecure society by making most work into what once would have been leisure. Most of us read, write and think as work these days. Once upon a time that would have been a life reserved to only those who did not need to work.

The other idea, and here probably is the connection to domain analysis, is that professions secure their concretization and hence their survival with rather medieval approaches to credentialism. The easiest example from the book is the practice of medicine, which has the highest status and salary potential in our society, and for which the education (which is lengthy and expensive) has almost nothing to do with the practice except to confer the credential. As Collins shows, most medical practitioners learn on the job from other practitioners. But the mostly upperclass male medical doctors have succeeded with their credentialing in shutting out all other actors in healthcare from orderlies to nurses to social workers, most of whom labor for little in feminized professions. I know, this isn’t pretty. Collins takes on engineering and law too, but I won’t go into that here.

Along the way his narrative about the evolution of higher education in the US through the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries is about the clearest explanation I’ve seen, although it is consistent with the same trajectory painted by Louis Menand in The Metaphysical Club (erm, can you paint a trajectory? oh well, a topic for another time). All of us who make our livings and livelihoods as professors ought to have a better sense of how things got this way and I recommend both books for that reason.

I’ll keep pondering this of course. I think somehow we might be able to discover that a concretized domain is also somehow credentialed. Evidence of that might be useful for determining who the relevant actors are in the evolution of a domain ontology at any given moment. As it said, it needs some pondering.

 

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Epistemology as a dimension of knowledge organization

I was recently one of a handful of keynote speakers at ISKO Brazil, meeting in Rio de Janeiro, May 27-29. It was my first trip to Brazil, and I was just a little shocked to find myself sitting at a bar at Ipanema listening to Bossa Nova. I texted my sister, because our mother (who passed away about a year ago) used to dream of such a thing. Well, be that as it might, I won’t write here about culture shock, I’ll come back to that.

I spent some time musing about dimensions and how epistemology could be a dimension of knowledge organization. In the end my presentation became rather pedantic, but that is because I think there is too much wiggle room in ISKO about just what knowledge organization is. And I think that is problematic for a domain that thinks of itself as a science.

I’ll try to write more about this soon.

Here are some photos from my trip. escondodinho 1 escondodinho 2 ipanema 1 ipanema 2 ipanema 3 ipanema 4 obligatory Jesus

And here is a pdf of my presentation, which I think also is available on ISKO Brazil’s website, but caveat emptor, this is not a formal research presentation. Smiraglia_Epistemological Dimension of KO

More later.

Posted June 12, 2013 by lazykoblog in domain analysis, epistemology, KO, Uncategorized

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ISKO 12’s bookshelf

My editorial based on the conference proceedings from Mysore was just published in Knowledge Organization, v. 40, no. 1 (2013): 1-10. I gave it the subtitle “evolving intension,” because from what I could see in the statistical evidence, the theoretical core of knowledge organization is stable and is represented in these papers, but there was less granualarity than in recent biennial ISKO conferences, suggesting differences peculiar to this specific mixture of scholars which appear to be sort of pushing and pulling the boundaries inside the domain, thus evolution is taking place in the intension. Of course, it is hard to take one moment in time represented by a single conference by itself; so it will be interesting to see how this dataset fits into the domain analysis of knowledge organization over time.

ISKO vehicle 2We have been having some success with extending online access to Knowledge Organization (which now is available to library subcribers through Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts (EBSCO) full text. But for some reason we have not seen Web of Science catch up with the indexing of our conference proceedings. So I will upload the basic Excel spreadsheet of papers and citations that I used to analyze this conference, here: ISKO 2012 citationsISKO vehicle 1

As I commented about earlier, there was quite a different mix of scholars at this conference, probably because of the exotic location. It did seem as though many of the usual suspects were not present, but the conference was well-attended anyway, by new people, which was good. The effect of this shows up in my analysis in the prevalence of papers from Brazil and India, which had the largest presence together with the US. I expect there is therefore some influence of the emerging economic powerhouses of Brazil and India on the thematic emphases of the conference, with digital solutions at the top of the list, relationships and domains rising up the thematic distribution, and categories and general classifications falling to the bottom. I was not able to demonstrate this statistically, however, as there were too few cases in the cells of a cross-tabulation.

The tug-and-pull between empirical scientific methods and humanistic methods, or epistemologies, was evident in the heavy reliance on monographic citations; only about half of the citations were to journal articles.

Of course, it was no surprise that S.R. Ranganathan had clear influence on the conference participants; but it also is true that facets are increasingly being found useful in knowledge organization systems.

In my experience of ISKO, which now is a bit more than a decade, it was the first time I had seen “official ISKO vehicles.” I thought that was delightful!

Meta meta-analysis

I’m reading a relatively new book (Nate Silver The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail–but Some Don’t. Penguin, 2012). It’s a good book, a good read and informative, and I can recommend it to everybody reading this blog, although it isn’t particularly germane to KO alone. However, the breadth of the meta-analysis that Silver brings to bear is truly impressive. I wish we had more work like that in KO. Hjørland’s “Theory and Meta-theory of Information Science: A New Interpretation” was published in Journal of Documentation in 1998 but very few scholars in KO have ever taken up the methodology. The virtue of meta-analysis is meta-theory, which is to say theory that emerges from a broad view of what might otherwise have seemed unrelated findings. In a domain based on the concept, in which we don’t seem to agree on what a concept is, I’d say we ought to avail ourselves of this technique more often.

In “Epistemology of Domain Analysis” I tried, really I did, whether it looks that way or not (this is chapter 6 in Cultural Frames of Knowledge, ed. by me and Hur-Li Lee, Ergon 2012, launched so dramatically at the opening of ISKO 12 in Mysore!). I used a synthesis of prior writing to propose a definition of “domain”–this was not itself meta-analysis, merely typical synthesis. Then I used the definition to analyze all of the formal domain-analytic papers I could find from KO, especially if they seemed to be in response to Hjørland and Albrechtsen’s 1995 “Toward a New Horizon in Information Science: Domain-Analysis” (JASIS 46 (1995):400-425). (Apparently I didn’t count the papers, I can’t now find their number, although I remember it to be around 70 at one point–perhaps I narrowed it in the writing … hmmm.) Of course, I was looking for epistemology, so meta-theory doesn’t emerge explicitly, except in the empirical alignment of domain-analysis. Oh well.

I have written a few other meta-analyses, probably the most useful is “A Meta-Analysis of Instantiation as a Phenomenon of Information Objects” in Culture del testo e del documento 9 (2008): no. 25: 5-25. My current students in Comparative Bibliography have just analyzed a dozen vastly different instantiation networks, from anarchist pamphlets to legal decisions to French symbolist poetry. The theory of instantiation arises over and over in the empirical demonstration of the presence of absence of canonicity on the evolution of an instantiation network. That’s fascinating, and it’s fascinating to watch it develop more or less along the lines I predicted in that paper.

The other thought I had as I began reading Silver’s book was that we almost never engage in prediction in KO. I suppose that’s because so little of our research is directly empirical. It seems we look either at the present or the past, but rarely attempt to suggest what might emerge. There is enough domain-analytical work to begin to suggest at least hypotheses about the development of domains, enough to suggest (for example) that an emergent ontology uncovered in a CWA analysis in a given workspace might evolve in certain ways given the presence or absence of certain conditions. I won’t go further here, I just want to suggest a direction for research in our domain.

Posted November 28, 2012 by lazykoblog in domain analysis

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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. http://www.cais-acsi.ca/conferences.htm.

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.

Paradigms and Conceptual Systems in KO

The 11th International ISKO Conference was held in Rome in February 2010.

An analysis of the Proceedings will appear in my editorial in Knowledge Organization v. 38 no. 3 (May 2011).

The spreadsheet of papers and references I used for the analysis is here: Rome_11th ISKO_References

Posted March 16, 2011 by lazykoblog in conferences, domain analysis

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I Simposio Internacional sobre Organizacion del Conocimiento, Bibliotecologia y Terminologia

This marvelous conference took place in Mexico City in August of 2007. It was announced as the First International Symposium on Knowledge Organization, Library Science, and Terminology, and was held at UNAM’s Centro- Universitario de Investigaciones Bibliotecologicas.

The proceedings became available recently, and an analysis appears in my editorial in Knowledge Organization vol. 38 no. 1 (2011): 3-8.

The original Excel data file is here: Mexico City Simposio 2007

Posted March 16, 2011 by lazykoblog in domain analysis, Uncategorized

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