Christina's LIS Rant
Friday, April 22, 2005
  Computerworld: Reading Is Key to IT Innovation
4/4/05 Column by Adam Kolawa. Pointed out by Jack Vinson.

A dangerous trend threatens our nation's ability to remain globally competitive in science and technology. Scientists and researchers in a wide variety of disciplines are conducting experiments and carrying out studies without grounding themselves in the latest work of their colleagues...The results of this trend are not surprising. Their work is less thorough, and they repeat work that could be avoided if they kept abreast of the latest findings in their field... It is important to stay grounded in the literature of the industry. Otherwise you end up reinventing processes and techniques that are already available to you. If you are not aware of your intellectual surroundings, then you are doomed to duplicate work, repeat research, and waste time and resources.

The author goes on to say that this problem is exacerbated by the movement of journal subscriptions from print to online. Jack thinks this might be ameliorated by RSS feeds.

I agree that this is a widespread problem, but I don't agree that it's a technology issue. I think engineers and scientists get bogged down in solving a particular problem and lose sight of long term goals like staying abreast of new developments. Professional society involvement is key to combatting this. More so, I would argue, than RSS feeds (ahh, don't hit me Jenny and Steven!). Going to meetings and conferences and other f2f opportunities gets you out of your routine, causes you to prairie dog from your work... and you might just get the insight that helps you solve the problem. You're around dynamic people with similar training who are all solving problems like yours in their daily lives.

Also, managers should enforce mandatory catch up, read-the-journal time for their professional staff. Professionals should do this on their own, but nudging is good, too. I believe in formal training, too, but I think just reading a few research articles a week would help, a lot.

In the end, it's a management issue, not a technology issue.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
  About the author
I still maintain that the purpose of this blog is for my own knowledge and information management, but I feel like the time has come for me to make a small announcement. I will go back to school in the Fall to start work on my PhD. I'm going to the University of Maryland and I'll be in the College of Information Studies. I'll be able to transfer 24 of my MLS credits, but I'll still have years of work ahead of me. They recently changed their policy to allow part time PhD students which is good, because I'll continue to work full time as a sci/tech librarian in a non-profit research lab.

My field of study will be the personal information management, information seeking and information use of industrial scientists (as opposed to academic) and engineers. I try to be very practical and I hope to get out of this program the tools and knowledge I need to help my customers be more efficient.

What else? Oh, nothing will change with my membership in SLA and I will still be blogging here although I imagine that if I get bogged down in work, I might change some of my posting patterns.

Also, I want to thank my PhD-seeking role models from afar who don't even know they're mentoring me :) Thanks Lois and Lilia! Keep those reports from the front lines coming.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
  Gross Comment Spam
I've kind of been a little smug on not getting nasty comment spam here. Now, not only do I have comment spam, but I can't seem to delete it. The little trash can is mysteriously absent.

Should I figure out how to delete the nastiness, I'll allow the comments on that post again. Regrets to any/all who saw that.
Thursday, April 07, 2005
  What if Fermat had been a blogger?
I finally started reading Penrose's Road to Reality (not in Open WorldCat yet) yesterday and I got to the part where he's describing the Platonic view of mathematics vs. the subjective view; or rather, what mathematical statements are objectively true. He mentions the case of Fermat's last theorem. What struck me is that Fermat wrote that he had a proof of theorem in the margin of the book he was reading -- but he never wrote out the proof. A proof of the theorem was finally published in 1995.

Personal information/personal knowledge management was a problem then, too! Not that I've ever come up with anything nearly so interesting, but this is one of the main reasons I blog. If I come up with an idea, but don't have the time to pursue it to its conclusion or if I want to get it down to think about it later, I blog it.

For another view on this see Mathemagenic. 1) Re-reading my own weblog and research blogging 2) Her series, Weblog as a Research Notebook (1, 2, 3, 4)

Can we as librarians or information scientists, help the modern day Fermats better record their lightbulb ideas WITHOUT forcing draconian document management rules or inconvenient database entries? For online findings, we can implement some sort of del.icio.us thingy, but what about interpersonal communications (offline) and things found serendipitously from environmental cues (print materials, lab experiments, environmental observations)? For print materials, there's a home library catalog software that runs on Macs that allows you to take a digital photograph of the barcode on the back of a book (the one for the bookseller, not the library one!). It goes out to Amazon and retrieves a cover image and metadata about the book. Could we ask the scientist/mathematician/engineer to carry a camera phone (except if they work in a closed area or on a military base or...) and kind of snap something, then add a podcast note, which will then be made into text, categorized, abstracted and stored for later use? Could we run feature extraction to add searchable information about the thing that was photographed?

Would this help? Would Fermat have talked through his proof to a voicemail system?

  Is getting LISnews'd like getting Slashdotted?
This blog was recently mentioned on LISnews (thanks, cu). Welcome if you're visiting from there. (article on /.ed)
Monday, April 04, 2005
  washingtonpost.com: Create Your Own Podcasts
"If you haven't heard of it by now, it's high time you come out of your cave"

4/3/05 (should be free for 2wks, reg may be req) by Louis Ramirez. Quick getting started guide to podcasting.
Friday, April 01, 2005
  Totally April Fools, Totally Fun: MSN Search Spoof
Pointed out on the Search Engine Watch blog.

How funny and it gets you to use their product, too. Clever marketing while at the same time insulting to your closest friends and family.
  O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference 2005: Shirky, "Ontology is Overrated"
CS acts like he's saying something new
the Library of Congress's classification scheme exists not because concepts require consistent hierarchical placement, but because books do

Argh. Yes, as a matter of fact, we all learned this in school. LC developed to provide access to a particular collection of books: the books in the physical collection of the library of congress. It was never meant to be a representation of the state of the world's knowledge.

CS also gives the example of the lack of a category for oncology. Right, that's why NLM has their own classification and MeSH.

DDC has a lot of problems, too. Too many computer subjects not originally accounted for by Melvil, etc. That's why there are huge committees and people trying to fix and update these things. The end goal is the same: to provide access to library resources to solve the information needs of the end user. Library classification systems cannot solve the philosophical questions that should be left to PhDs and theologians.

Update: The link to the mp3 of the presentation was provided in the comments to this post. I'll include it here for everyone's benefit: http://www.itconversations.com/shows/detail470.html . Perhaps I was too hasty in my post above. From the more detailed description on this site, it sounds a lot more interesting.
Update 2: I like this version of social tagging.
Update 3: Listening to it now. Does anonymous know where I can get the slides? Still a little annoyed at some of the discussion of lc stuff, but I guess he needs to go about it that way due to his audience. "signal loss" in traditional classification schemes where you can have overlap etc., in online tags...

Update 4 (5/17/2005): Shirky has posted notes from this and an IMCExpo talk here.

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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

Laurel , Maryland , 20707 USA
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