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Christina's LIS Rant
Sunday, January 18, 2009
  Comps readings this week
Had train rides to NYC and back and a plane ride this week. Didn't read on the train up (so bumpy it was making me queasy) and on the way back read really slowly because I was so sleepy... but still got some stuff done.

Finished:
Monge, P. R., & Contractor, N. S. (2003). Theories of communication networks. New York: Oxford University Press.
This book was really uneven. There were places that really provided very useful overviews of vast bodies of literature - but in a way that made them useful. There were also places where it was nearly impossible to see the connection to communication networks, and where it seemed almost like they were regurgitating an encyclopedia article in a field outside their own. It could be that they were given specific guidance on how advanced they could go and they sort of had trouble not undershooting. I think probably that I would say chapter 2 is very helpful - and worth reading. It discusses the various units of analysis: individual, dyadic, triadic, and global; the units of measure at each of these; and then lists some social science theories that have been explored at that level with that measurement. The modeling stuff could be handy, too, as could the stuff on theories of self interest and collective action, exchange and dependency theories, and the homophily chapter.
With that said, the book won all sorts of awards and is widely respected, so, whatever.

Also read:
Forte, A., & Bruckman, A. (2005). Why do people write for Wikipedia? Incentives to contribute to open-content systems. Proceedings of GROUP 05 Workshop: Sustaining Community: The Role and Design of Incentive Mechanisms in Online Systems. Retrieved October 24, 2008 from http://www-static.cc.gatech.edu/~aforte/ForteBruckmanWhyPeopleWrite.pdf
They did a big research project - I really hope there were lots of other articles out of it. This was just a workshop paper, so very short and not theory driven. Not a whole lot of evidence. Their main deal is to compare authorship & identity practices in Wikipedians with Latour & Woolgar's (1986) discussion of the role of journal articles in knowledge production in science. The first thing they say that annoys me is that basically Latour & Woolgar were the first to study scientists and scholarly communication in science from a social sciences point of view! Holy freakin' cow. Anyway, seems to me what they're talking about is more like the open source software project model and actually, hardly like scientific communication at all except in the fact that some people like to get credit for hard work... which is pretty much a universal sentiment.

I tried to read 3 chapters but I really only completed:
Manning, C. D., Raghavan, P., & Schutze, H. (2008). Scoring, term weighting & the vector space model. In Introduction to information retrieval (pp. 100-123). New York: Cambridge University Press.
I feel like I need to go back and pick up the chapters between the ones I'm supposed to read.

Huang, X. (2008). Conceptual Framework and Literature Review. Unpublished Manuscript. (Chapter 2 of her dissertation)
Xiaoli has a deep and nuanced understanding of relevance and she explains it very clearly. At first I thought it a bit odd to read a chapter from a dissertation in progress, but I need to relax and trust my committee! Daniel Tunkelang has recently been on a relevance kick, and that's a good thing - it is the central point for information retrieval and human information behavior. This chapter reviews the history of studying relevance from the beginning of the 20th century through recent studies. She talks about the system view as well as the user view and lays out a conceptual framework. Her work deals with topical relevance.. but you'll have to wait 'til she's done to read about it.

Barley, S. R. (1990). The alignment of technology and structure through roles and networks. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35(1), 61-103.
He's trying to go from technology introduction to changes in social structure. He points out a couple of ways people try to do this, but apparently they focus on one side or the other and don't get from point a to point b. He uses social roles: relational and non-relational. Relational roles are ones that require an alter - like son/mother, wife/husband and non-relational are like butcher, baker, etc. Except, as he points out, life isn't so clean. He looks for the chain technology > non-relational roles > relational roles > change in social structure. His research was a massive study of radiology departments in 2 hospitals - he went to one or the other every day for like 6 months, interviewed people, did sociometric surveys, reviewed documents, and observed like 400 procedures. Interestingly, there was a really stratified social structure - when new equipment is purchased, they hire new doctors who are very junior, but who are trained in the newest modalities. So you have senior doctors who only know how to read 1 type, middle ones that know a couple, then the youngest who know like 4 or 5. Apparently the whole way the technologists are managed also goes with the modality. This guy had all kinds of evidence to prove his point. Interesting.

(btw- this will appear on Tuesday - got behind, but the readings are for the week ending 1/18)

UPDATE 4/30/2009: X. Huang's dissertation is now available online at http://www.dsoergel.com/XiaoliHuangDissertation.pdf - if you're into relevance (and who isn't?, this will be heaven :) )

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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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