Archive for the ‘ISKO’ Category

False taxonomy

In The Economist for June 23rd 2018 a fascinating article appeared in a column headed “French Connection” and titled “Forget McKinsey: A Gallic Intellectual is the key to controlling how businesses are perceived.”

I was surprised, then, to discover as I read along, that the entire article was about the power of taxonomy. Lights went off in my brain and I was very excited to see something about the actual work of knowledge organization appearing in the pages of The Economist.

My excitement was short-lived, however, as I got all the way to the end of the article finding absolutely no mention of the domain of knowledge organization, ISKO, and no reference to any of the very active authors in knowledge organization in general and not even to any of those writing about taxonomy.

The article describes how businesses variously make use of taxonomies, not only in the conduct of their day to day business but also in controlling how they are perceived–“digital” and “high-tech” are exciting and “traditional” is not, or so it seems from the article. The French connection, such as it is, is through Foucault, who is explicitly named. Of course, many of us in KO-land cite Foucault, teach Foucault, and regularly introduce new students to the intracacies of The Order of Things and The Archeology of Knowledge. Sigh ….

In this morning’s opening keynote at the 15th International ISKO Conference in Porto, Portugal, David Bawden pointed to just this article as an example of how ubiquitous knowledge organization is, thus reminding me I had been carting the actual paper article around with me for two weeks waiting to feel like blogging about it. (Bawden’s talk was titled “Supporting truth and promoting understanding: knowledge organization and the curation of the infosphere,” and it appears on pages 17-22 of the conference proceedings).

One reason I had not yet posted on this was that I’m of two minds about it. First, I am offended that The Economist‘s author did so little research that ISKO and KO and all of our large and growing body of literature was utterly ignored. Shame on The Economist.

But of course, it also is up to us in ISKO to raise the bar a bit and make our voices heard outside of our own tribe. How to do this is perplexing. Even as we now talk about the silos of disciplinary academia still we cling to our own pretty tightly. More sighs ….

Well, let us enjoy the fact that the stuff of our labor made it into a business column in an international news magazine. But let us also accept this challenge to do what we can to see that we heighten awareness of our existence and productivity as a domain.

Some proper references:

Bawden, David. 2018. “Supporting Truth and Promoting Understanding: Knowledge Organization and the Curation of the Infosphere.” In Challenges and Opportunities for Knowledge Organization in the Digital Age: Proceedings of the Fifteenth International ISKO Conference, 9-11 July 2018, Porto, Portugal, ed. Fernanda Ribeira and Maria Elisa Cerveira. Advances in Knowledge Organization 16. W├╝rzburg: Ergon Verlag, 17-22.

Foucault, Michel. (1966) 2001. The Order of Things: An Archaelogy of the Human Sciences. London: Routledge.

Foucault, Michel. 1972. The Archeology of Knowledge and The Discourse on Language. Trans. by A. M. Sheridan Smith. New York: Pantheon Books.

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Posted July 9, 2018 by lazykoblog in ISKO, KO, taxonomy

Tagged with , , ,

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!