Christina's LIS Rant
Friday, February 25, 2005
  Library Journal - Revenge of the Blog People!
Note: This is a rant. Please skip if you want to avoid rants or say that because I'm expressing my opinion on my blog, blogs are an invalid source of information.

Ok. My fault, I should have paid attention to the candidates and actually voted for ALA President. I the last time I voted was for a local because I knew a little about her. How could such a smart group of people have elected Michael Gorman? Am I judging him unfairly? Maybe -- because I'm judging him only based on two things he wrote. The commentary linked above and the original article in the LA Times (both pointed out by MA).

First - his original point that one can only gain knowledge by reading entire, print books. Many, many, many scholarly works are not meant to be read from cover to cover. I don't just mean reference books, either. How about Lecture Notes in Computer Science? How about Techniques for Polymer organisation and morphology characterisation? How about just about any book in science and engineering? Oh - wait - maybe only social sciences and liberal arts count as scholarly endeavors? Also, what's to say that you can't read an entire book online. It's not that common, but many visually impaired people do it all the time.

Second - I take issue with his points from LJ. His definition of blog, "A blog is a species of interactive electronic diary by means of which the unpublishable, untrammeled by editors or the rules of grammar, can communicate their thoughts via the web." Many, many, many bloggers are published and continue to publish. (RS Gordon, W Crawford, KG Schneider, M Ojala, G Price, S Cohen... to name just a very few just from the library world). Later in the commentary he states, "Given the quality of the writing in the blogs I have seen, I doubt that many of the Blog People are in the habit of sustained reading of complex texts. It is entirely possible that their intellectual needs are met by an accumulation of random facts and paragraphs." Whoa. Back the truck up. I, for one, frequently read complex texts. Many of the bloggers whose work I follow are PhDs or PhD candidates who provide bibliographies of what they read, so I KNOW they are reading complex texts.

Finally, I have to say that there are issues encountered when conducting natural language searching across full text collections of ebooks. I've encountered some of these myself in our SCHOLARLY ebooks collections. In the end, though, it does work for me because it helps me locate a relevant work and then I can read forwards and backwards in it to get the context. Perhaps, the argument that should have been made is more about what books will be omitted, and what value structured databases provide over natural language full text searching. The author could have chosen to compare results received from Google Scholar with those from a well designed database (see PJ's thorough review) and made comparisons to the book project. These articles are inflammatory and poorly supported. Shame on him and shame on us, the members of ALA who have him as our incoming president.

Updated: Spell checked.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
  Cool Meme: Visited Countries
Here are the countries I have visited:

create your own visited countries map
or vertaling Duits Nederlands
Too bad all the different countries in the Caribbean all look alike!

Here's the equivalent for the U.S.

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

What's clear from all this is that I'm much more likely to have visited a place with access to the ocean -- I wonder why that is? (being sarcastic).

Pointed out by ProLurker who complains that she's only had a passport for 2 years. My passport actually expired -- but I went to all of those countries and got 0 (that's zero) stamps to show for it. If you're traveling on a military ID they won't stamp your passport -- even if you ask nicely.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
  EV2 Adds RSS Feeds
Cross-posted (of course) to my sci/tech blog

I was trying to figure out what search I would do that wouldn't provide any specific info from my place of work so disregard the subject...

Anyway, you can now get weekly search alerts/updates right in your aggregator. You have to be a subscriber ($$, of course). My e-mail alerts get to me on Fridays, so I'm guessing that's when the feed will be updated I'll come back and update this if not.
Updated: I believe I just got rid of the extra copy of this post. Hopefully that won't impact anyone's link. ||
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
  D-Lib: DOE/OSTI to get DOIs and join crossref
(scroll down) Pointed out by R.S.
Department of Energy Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) has joined CrossRef. OSTI plans to assign Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to its Information Bridge platform, which currently contains 94,000 scientific and technical reports

Very cool. Now if only NTIS and DTIC would join.
Monday, February 14, 2005
  No reviews of Computer Books?
I was browsing NYT Circuits columnist Pogue's blog and ran across a post lamenting the lack of computer book reviews. (free reg req for some if not all of the links above). I scoffed. Then thought a little bit...

I logged into Infotrac (a Thomson Gale database for public library use -- btw, what's up with them starting you in the thesaurus? how bizarre is that?) via my local public library to give it a whirl. I chose this database first because I've found that Gale databases are consistent in adding book review to the title field. I chose advance search and searched (Ti (Book Review) AND Ke (Microsoft)). A couple of interesting things, but only from library trade pubs. Tried (Ti (Book Review) AND Ke Dreamweaver). Once again, only library trade pubs. Decent reviews, but not enough of them.

I then logged into my workplace's access (courtesy of our affiliated academic institutions) to WilsonWeb and Book Review Digest Plus (BTW- updated interface, still a little ugly, but better). (microsoft in ALL) -- a little too broad, all kinds of things available. Tried Excel -- some good reviews here, but not, in general, on the basic books. Books like Operations Analysis using Excel and Data analysis with Excel: an introduction for physical scientists were well covered. Missing were reviews of Sams or O'Reilly books. A search for dreamweaver ALL yielded a book from a library journal.

I logged into EbscoHost and Academic Search Premier (couldn't do the public library one, can only do what your IP is linked to apparently). Here there's a "book review" document type. Searched microsoft with that limiter -- seems like lots of good stuff. I searched on Excel and came back with a lot of the specialty books found in Book Review Digest Plus. Dreamweaver yields the same reviews from R.S. Gordon. If you know the name of the book you'd like a review for, you might find it in the subject index. What's more common, I suspect, is someone with an information need who just needs to find the best book to teach them what they need to know. For example, "how do I use CSS to update my blog template?"

This doesn't look good. I hope I'm wrong or missed something obvious.
Update 3/31: Resource Shelf just posted a link to LITA's Technology Electronic Reviews. Another nice librarian resource, but still not exactly what I was looking for. I still want something for the general computer guy.
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
  I am too cool.
The mp3 posted below was created using audioblogger. You post via voice mail and they hold the file for you. You call a number (ld, as my sister would say, but that's why I have a cell phone), put in a phone number and pin, and away you go. The audio is only as good as your phone and connection, and there's no editing or splicing or whatever... but for people who just want the function, why not?

Pointed out in e-mail from CH and on this blog.
this is an audio post - click to play
Saturday, February 05, 2005
  Defining Web 2.0
Richard McManus has posted on various definitions of Web 2.0. Many are hopeful we're in a second wave of excitement about the web, ebusiness, etc., that will lead to and economic boom like the 90s. In a nutshell, here's my definition (cut and pasted, for the most part, from an e-mail conversation I had with RM)
I think the first wave was the technical layer-- the establishment of the code (kind of in a Lessig sense), the exploration of the technology. I think web 2.0 is the semantic web, social networking, folksonomy, blogs, wikis -- more what Berners-Lee talks about. There's some code involved, but it's more about the content and connectivity.

So from a library-type point of view, this is just a technology to better enable what we've been doing all along. We've been indexing articles for access for 150 years. Making hyperlinks (see also, used for, BT, NT, RT), using metadata... Many librarians don't see folksonomy as something fundamentally new. We've been there, and found that having professionally built taxonomies and controlled vocabulary to be more efficient and work better.

Now that I think about it a little more, there's something here about the commons vs. the ownership of the system by the elites. There's an idea that folksonomies are evidence of a backlash against THE MAN controlling information. Assignment of terms to an item happens after its creation and shouldn't interfere with the creative process. It's done to provide access and aggregation to the item. Your choice of tags reveals your judgment of the item. An example from library land: feng shui used to be in the 133s with the talking-to-dead-people books. It's now in the 740s with the decorating-your-house books. It went mainstream. Choosing terms from a carefully prepared list doesn't exactly stifle creativity.

I don't believe that control of the classification system by established experts is inherently evil. It is more like a benevolent oligarchy.

Updated: forgot the tags

||web 2.0

Thursday, February 03, 2005
  Coincidence? (not really meaning to be critical)
Compare this citation:

Maureen L. Mackenzie "Managers look to the social network to seek information" Information Research, v10 n2 (January 2005). here.
First part of the abstract:
Introduction. The purpose of this study was to explore how managers selected individuals to serve as information sources. The social context of a for-profit business environment offered opportunity to study information seeking among interacting line-managers.
With the works listed here.

Amazingly enough, they don't actually cite each other or that many common articles, for that matter. hmmm.
Updated (tags added)
  Information seeking (business researcher approach)
This post has been rattling around in my head so I finally decided to get it actually down with the hope of someday developing my thoughts further.

First, at ASIS&T I noticed a tension between computer guys (web 2.0 guys, IT guys, CS guys, etc.) and library types. You see, librarians and information scientists have been researching how to find, classify, display, store information for more than a century. It's frustrating to sit in a meeting where a 20-something IT guy "discovers" classification or cataloging. The IT guy gets a hostile reception and just thinks the LIS guys are not open to new ideas. I think I've actually been on both sides of this at different times.

Recently, I've seen some business researchers jump into information seeking -- sometimes making statements that there exists no research on the subject. The research is also being done in the field of cognitive psychology and education -- not just LIS. Likewise, network analysis has been around for years. I originally found it a little odd that physicists were studying this but it ends up making sense because they're also big into the whole scientometrics deal. The whole recent rediscovery of the field recently is interesting, but... anyway.

In re information seeking in business. SC, I think (? sorry if it was a KM person instead), pointed out an article by Borgatti on SNA and KM. This lead me to search him in ABI/Inform (which is really a joy since they've added some bells and whistles, but that's another post)... and find this citation:
Stephen P Borgatti and Rob Cross. "A Relational View of Information Seeking and Learning in Social Networks." Management Science 49, no. 4 (April 2003): 432. f/t in ABI but also here (PDF).
which led to
Cross, R., R. E. Rice, and A. Parker. "Information Seeking in Social Context: Structural Influences and Receipt of Information Benefits." IEEE Transactions on Systems Man and Cybernetics Part C-Applications and Reviews 31, no. 4 (November 2001): 438-48. f/t in Xplore (for subscribers)

If you read Tenopir and King, Communications Patterns of Engineers, you'll see decades-worth of studies on how engineers in industry like to get information from other people. Gee, even a crappy GS search to try to find a free version gets you lots of LIS things on this. Information seeking in social context... give me a break. Didn't I spend a semester on that and don't hundreds of people have PhDs on that? I don't see a lot of LIS researchers cited in either of these articles (really only Allen). Intentional? Failure to appreciate the interdisciplinarity of the field or to look in the right place? Was the literature examined and discarded or is it unknown?

Updated, tag added.

Updated, 2/8, see below:
I was just wandering around in my ProCite database and ran across this citation:
Hertzum, Morten and Annelise Mark Pejtersen. "The Information-Seeking Practices of Engineers: Searching for Documents As Well As for People." Information Processing & Management 36, no. 5 (September 2000): 761-78. Available online (for subscribers, $$$). I looked to see who had cited it and found this even more interesting article: Hertzum, M. and others. "Trust in Information Sources: Seeking Information From People, Documents, and Virtual Agents." Interacting With Computers 14, no. 5 (October 2002): 575-99. Available online (for subscribers, $$$). Hertzum's work seems incredibly relevant to the Borgatti and Mackenzie works, yet neither of them cite him. Yes, there may be a difference between business managers and industrial engineers, but I suspect not so much so...


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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Christina Kirk Pikas

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