Archive for the ‘KO’ Category

Making it count 2

About ten days ago there was a breathless story on the evening news about how “more information” appearing on New York City fast food menus was not being used by consumers. Told that sandwich A had 150 calories and sandwich B had 850 they were all buying sandwich B. How could this be?, wondered the newscaster, that people overlooked “information.” All of the talking heads interviewed were chefs, consumer advocates, and dietitians.

Not one knowledge organization specialist. Not one commentary on “concepts” of food, or the problems of homonymy and synonymy and meronymy, not one comment on cognition or cognitive overload or navigating networks pathways. A missed opportunity I think; we should’ve been right there, commenting.

In last week’s Economist is a story about “Ad scientists” with a headline image that looks an awful lot like some of my WordStat™ visualizations–lots of little boxes with network lines connecting them in pretty colors; all of it cast as terminological catch in a fishnet. The story begins with the example of what happens when someone searches “tennis balls” using three different search engines. Some of the results are said to be “organic” and others are paid links.

Now, why are no knowledge organization scientists cited in this paper?

How could it be that searchers are thrown off by overload, in which case they turn to the first available organic link (Patrick Wilson’s “relevance as means-to-an-end”; cognitive overload, etc. etc.)

Sigh ….


Posted July 29, 2013 by lazykoblog in cognition, KO, ontology

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

Tagged with ,

More Otlet … a lot more!

It was recently my great honor to participate as an examiner in defense of a new Ph.D. dissertation by Wouter Van Acker, at the University of Ghent in Belgium. Interestingly enough, the dissertation was produced in the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, Faculty of Engineering and Architecture. The title of the work is Universalism as Utopia: A Historical Study of the Schemes and Schemas of Paul Otlet (1868-1944).

I want to draw attention to the work in a couple of ways. First, I think the dissertation is not to be made public through deposit, so we should make all conscious efforts to urge the author to publish the work. It is an immense synthesis of Otlet’s career, and includes many illustrations from his papers at the Mundaneum and elsewhere. There is immense value in both the compilation and the sensitive synthesis. So, keep an eye peeled for dissemination of this work. I won’t even attempt to review the work here, but I do want to draw attention to it.

I was interested as a participant to see how wide-ranging a discussion we had about the disciplinary roots of this research. Of course, many of Otlet’s “schemes and schemas” were systems for knowledge organization. As I read the dissertation, and as I pondered how to participate in the conversation, I kept reminding myself that the document was not produced in an iSchool division of knowledge organization, because it might well have been. Certainly much of the work of Otlet, even that explicitly directed at the founding of a world-city, was essentially an extension of knowledge organization. What I take, then, from the conversation, is a renewed sense of the critical importance of knowledge organization as substrate for everything else.

I also was quite specifically interested in the physical specifications of space for knowledge repositories. That is, Otlet’s ideas about how to organize everything, from a seaside resort to a movable museum, reflected a sense of the human in the physical space surrounded by knowledge, and thus the organization of the knowledge was more than just an abstraction, it was also structure in which human activity could take place. That was a pretty common idea, I think, at the turn of the 20th century. We see it in Martel’s 7 Points for the Library of Congress Classification, for instance. And there are many other examples of classifications designed to fit specific physical spaces. KOS as architecture, literally, in other words. I think there is a fascinating set of historical hypotheses in there somewhere.

Questions also arose about the UDC, and based on my work with the Knowledge Space Lab (tracing the growth and evolution of the UDC over time;, I found myself wondering about dimensionality and facets. That is, if faceted KOS have the possibility of facilitating multidimensional knowledge representation, and I’m certain they do, then why do we get the usual list of suspects in the UDC (space, time, language, and so forth). I think my question is too ill-formed as of yet, so I’ll have to beg your indulgence while I ponder what it is I really mean to say here. My colleague Charles van den Heuvel suggested the mutildimensionality was there, not in the specific elements of the facets but rather in their potential for multiple combination. We’ll see where this leads us.

Perhaps on a more humorous note, I was quite impressed with the process. There were two defenses (2!), one private and one public. The public defense was quite formal, and I might add I enjoyed it immensely. Here are some photos of the event:

Finally (for now), congratulations to Wouter Van Acker for a brilliant defense of a magnificent piece of research.

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.