Christina's LIS Rant
Monday, November 28, 2005
  Extending and reapplying Ye and Kishida's view of learning in OSS communities to the blogosphere
Extending and reapplying Ye and Kishida’s view of learning in OSS communities to the blogosphere

I blogged earlier about the prevalence of legitimate peripheral participants (aka lurkers) in various online communities.  A type of community in which peripheral participants play an important role is open source software (OSS) communities.  Although all participants in these communities by definition have equal access to the source and to make contributions, not all have the ability, time, or motivation to do so.  In fact, over time researchers of OSS communities have divided up participants into roles.  Researchers differ on the names and numbers of roles, but there are common themes.  There are participants who simply download and use the software.  Others who report bugs.  Others who only fix bugs.  Others who are developers.  Finally, there are generally core members or project leaders who have some sort of ownership or leadership role (See Ye and Kishida section 2.1).

Participants join OSS communities to get software; but, also, in fact, to learn how to program.  They essentially look inside the black box to see the gears working and are involved in distributed apprenticeship with the core members.  Furthermore, there is role transformation in OSS communities whereby software users become developers (Ye and Kishida, p.1).  Also, and importantly, the passive users provide incentive to the developers to continue to work on their program.  Ye and Kishida say, “Passive Users play a role similar to that of the audience in a theatrical performance who offers values, recognition, and applause to the efforts of actors” (p. 2).  Participants are encouraged to actively contribute to gain reputation and recognition, to practice the art, and to learn by doing
The viewpoint of learning as a motivation that intrinsically drives people to get involved in OSS development and that extrinsically rewards them with higher social status and larger influence in OSS communities is in parallel with a tradition of Eastern culture. Intellectual property is a very new concept in Eastern culture; instead, scholars have long pursued intellectual prevalence by commanding high recognition and respect from the people, especially the ruling class and intelligentsia, through the free distribution of their writings. Writings are treated as the heritage and public assets of the whole society and they are free to all. More importantly, all writings are open to interpretation. In fact, most scholars build their own theory and knowledge by commenting and annotating the writings of earlier scholars while they are reading. Although comments and annotations are often the products of the scholars’ own efforts of understanding, assessing, and learning the writings produced by others, they become free learning resources and inspire further modifications and interpretations. The hallmark of an established scholar is the authority of interpreting the writings of a well respected ancient scholar (e.g. Confucius), and only those who can integrate the ideas of their ancestors and contemporaries alike and convince others with their freely distributed writings can acquire such status. (section 5.4, emphasis mine)

So combine the above with Efimova’s legitimized theft (Efimova et al 2004) (reminder:  she also talks about learning by doing, seeing the process, time-shifting apprenticeship – using blogs on the intranet for this distributed apprenticeship).

My points: 1) motivation to blog – also to learn by doing, learn via being part of the conversation 2) do we draw people into the blogosphere like we should?  Do we allow role transformation from reader to active blogger? 3) still about blogs bcs. reputation and recognition are there with your comment/post (not wikis) 4) like OSS, low barriers to becoming a blogger, perhaps some barrier to becoming an oft-linked-to blogger?

Efimova, Lilia, Sebastian Fiedler, Carla Verwijs, and Andy Boyd. 2004. Legitimised theft: Distributed apprenticeship in weblog networks. In I-KNOW 04.

Ye, Yunwen and Kouichi Kishida. 2003. Toward an understanding of the motivation open source software developers. In ICSE '03: Proceedings of the 25th international conference on software engineering, 419-429. Washington, DC: IEEE Computer Society. DOI: 10.1109/ICSE.2003.1201220

I thought my renewed academic life would positively impact my blogging, but I guess I’ve just proven myself to be human after all :) . You see, I blog more when I read more and think more and I’m reading a lot of interesting stuff for my Communities of Practice class and for the intro to research seminar required for new doctoral students. So, anyway, turns out that it actually takes discipline to write down all the fabu ideas as they occur. Right…

I’m going to try to catch up a little now… or at least nail down some ideas that should be pursued in more depth... eventually.

Thursday, November 17, 2005
  Carnival of the InfoSciences #15
Sorry soooo late. It's on Ask Nettie Day this week.

You know what they say about life catching up with blogging? Yeah, well.
  News organizations repeating law firm mistakes of the '90s
From the Philadelphia Inquirer
"We will likely be reducing the staffing in the news research library. While our plans are not yet final, it looks likely that the staffing will consist of no more than two people, and that the job will consist mainly of archiving. Reporters, editors and photographers in both The Daily News and The Inquirer will be given extensive training in Lexis/Nexis, DocCenter and Internet research in general so that they will be able to handle their own routine searches. In this Internet age, every reporter should be able to quickly locate basic information."

As quoted by Confessions, as posted on newslib-l.

This is exactly what law firms did in the '90s. A lot of them have undone it now, but .... Will they never learn? How many mistakes or shoddily researched articles can a declining paper have before it goes completely under? That's what will happen and they'll never know that it was because they laid off the librarians. Wait until they see the database bills when they have all members of staff searching, tee-hee. That will be funny. Oh, great, who will do the training of the reporters on internet searching?
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
  Dialog bluesheets have RSS feeds?
Intriguing. I knew about the press releases, but I think the updated bluesheet RSS feeds are new.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
  IEEE Xplore to have feeds!?!
Yay! BTW- I think the IEEE Computer Society fixed theirs so subscribers to the IEL get the full text.
Downtime 11/15, mid-day:
" * RSS feeds for newly published journal tables of contents.
* Non-indexed materials, such as editorials and book reviews, will now be available, free, to all users."

update 11/16: Yes, indeed. J. Platt just e-mailed PAMnet (and me) to let us know that they are live.
Monday, November 07, 2005
  Information Community News: Carnival of the InfoSciences #14
(it will have a new URL, I guess, but this works for now)
Update 11/9: Jill O'Neill just e-mailed me the permanent URL: http://www.nfais.org/news/CarnivalInfoSciences14.htm
  Wandering thoughts about searching structured information

When I taught intro to internet classes in the public library, I listed multiple ways to locate web pages of interest: 1) search engine 2) directory 3) known item (i.e., reference from a print resource, ad, friend, or other media). This class had to be superficial by its nature. We also know from Rob Capra’s recent paper in IEEE Computer that information literate folks frequently go directly to analogs of print references to find facts online (like phonebooks – organized listings with multiple access points) instead of doing general web searches. In practice, the use of classified or organized web page collections online is perhaps less frequently studied than general web or structured A&I database searching.

At ASIST, I attended a session on this. Also, Jack Vinson recently pointed to a KMWorld article on this. Cataloging professors agree that everything should be cataloged for access so yeah, there is some resistance from those of us who like to search. Busch made a great point that when browsing an online clothing store, you would rather have a categorized list (say: women’s clothing > tops > sweaters) than an empty search box. Steve Papa in the KMWorld article says, “If you search for a monkey in the jungle, it’s tougher than finding one at the zoo, and if you search for unstructured content, it’s tougher than finding structured content.”

OTOH, there is this idea that binge organizing only helps you lose things and creates angst, any imposed structure will have inherent biases, that for a single set of resources there are multiple competing schemes that are valid for particular uses/users (IOW there is no one right classification unless you’re in school). There’s also the idea that search engines are so good that the cost of organizing information is less and less justified.

To add more complication… user tagging is …what? Non-structured if not at all controlled (or faceted) and structured if it’s controlled? Always structured? Doesn’t belong in this conversation (none of the above)?

There’s also structure on multiple levels – whether the data is in a database or free text OR whether it’s indexed or just flowing (so like blogs are structured – there are fields, etc, – ­on one level, and can be unstructured on the other) (see more in the Papa article).

Continuing to wander, it could be that structured information helps the user – even if the user doesn’t explicitly use the structure. For example, in Engineering Village (not affiliated, yadda, yadda), you can throw a google-like search in the easy box – it stems automatically (using a lookup structure, I guess) and it suggests all kinds of terms, codes, fields that may help you find more (or less, but more relevant). EV provides prompts in the latter case to move the user from unstructured searching to structured searching. Is there an example where the structure remains latent yet assists the user? Hmm… not off the top of my head but I may come up with one.

In the ASIST session, Hur-Li Lee reported the results of a study with US and Taiwanese students in which she asked them to find a certain number of professional societies in microbiology. As I recall, her results indicated that an understanding of the field made the students more efficient, because they didn’t go down the wrong path following the hierarchy to the right location.

So, do I have a point? Not really, lol. It depends on the user, multiple methods are still justified. The cost of structure is still justified. More work needs to be done.

Saturday, November 05, 2005
  ASIST: Use of Classification in Information Seeking
Use of Classification in Information Seeking
Wednesday, November 02, 2005, 3:30

Barbara Kwasnik, Use of Classification in Information Retrieval
Classification:  partitioning things into meaningful clusters
Two processes in parallel:

Why classify-

Challenges on query formation

System challenges

Challenges in matching

Joseph Busch, Classification in the workplace
People use classification for IR all the time – shopping on line, browse by facets

(compare to Capra article in IEEE Computer, when people look for facts online they go directly to classified pages that are analogs of classified print guides)

Study, taxonomy browsing is much faster than searching
Also people recreate info when they can’t find what they need, so this costs

When doing these taxonomies, do enough, don’t try to exhaustively and completely represent the world’s knowledge.

Hur-Li Lee, Navigating across yahoo directories
  ASIST: Plenary Session Pattie Maes
Plenary Session, Pattie Maes:  Just in Time Information

Proactively offering information that is highly relevant to what s/he is currently working on.

While we look at active seeking, she looks at providing information without interrupting what the user is currently doing

  1. model user interest/preferences

  2. sense current context of user

  3. compute information relevant to the context and user profile (recommendation algorithm)

  4. present information in subtle, non-intrusive way

Letizia – while web searching (1998)
Collaborative filtering recommenders (1994)
Footprints – popular paths on a website, shows how people usually view the web site. (1999)
Remembrance Agent (1996) – reminds user of previous pages visited on the same topic, little gray box  appears next to each paragraph.  Similar system for e-mail.
What would they think, Virtual Mentors (2004) – shows you what people you care about think on the subject.  You subscribe to a mentor and get their views.
Yenta Matchmaking system (1999) (not romantic) watches e-mail, web stuff, offers to introduce you to people with similar interests

While on the go (too many clicks, not enough screen space) Wearable remembrance agent

Impulse:  automated information exchange with entities in the physical vicinity (2000)
Periscope (2001) camera w/compass and range finder, mark items and instead of calling in an air strike on them, you get information about them
Hanging messages (2000) leave notes at certain locations
Etherthreads (2004) Bluetooth and gps data trigger location based relevant messages
Photowhere (2004) automated annotation of photographs, automatically tag
Reachmedia (2005) wireless RFID reader wristband reads tags in objects held by user.  Touching an object results in a menu of services and information (order a copy, read reviews, leave a message), peripheral visual interface for reachmedia, semantics,
Invisible media (2005) visual focus of attention
Object awareness (2005)

Other current projects:   responsive portraits, responsive mirrors, augmented pillows

  ASIST: Towards a Research Agenda for Visual Informatics
Towards a Research Agenda for Visual Informatics (SIGs VIS, CR)
Wednesday, November 02, 2005, 10:30

Alison von Eberstein, The Role of Visual Metaphor in Scientific Reasoning
Historical basis for visualization and thought experiments. Snakes, tales, fires, rockets, light beams.
Design of an electronic performance support system to augment … (think she said the innovation and creativity of scientists)
Perception – is while the object is being viewed includes identification, etc
Visual mental imagery- the above, while not getting sensory input

Metaphor defined as in Gerhart and Russel, Metaphoric processes

Chance Configuration Theory of Scientific Creativity (Simonton 1989)
- chance permutation of mental elements, permutations, stable and unstable configurations

implications for s/w to support r&d
  ASIST: Studies of Searching Behaviors
Studies of Searching Behaviors
Wednesday, November 2, 2005 8:30am

Dick Stenmark, Searching the Intranet
Intranets differ from public web (Fagin et al 2003).  They’re growing (size, number, importance)

Method:  a la Spink et al 2001, sessions spanned multiple days (definition of session not trivial)
Session definition (type a: related activities in different sessions , type b: unrelated activities together) – idle time set as 13 minutes.  They played with different thresholds first.

61% of users – one activity per session (backs up the open internet idea that users aren’t refining their searches or viewing multiple pages of results) Maximum session length 1 hour.
69.2% one word querys-- avg 1.4 words/query
90% users didn’t go beyond the first page (10 results)


Questions from the audience:  

Sherry Koshman, Repeat visits to Vivisimo
Information problem > time > search episodes
How often do people return?  What are the characteristics of repeated sessions
68% of users made repeat visits, weekday searching higher number of sessions
Jihyun Kim, Finding Documents in a Digital Institutional Repository
Looked at archives in DSpace and Eprints, compared 2 commonly used open access institutional repository software packages

Looked at Australian National University, which has both interfaces for the same sets of documents
From Heuristics
Dspace is better – more simplified search forms which were preferred.
Eprints is better – minimizig the user’s memory load

Three box search forms were preferred in each
Provide examples of search queries
List search results in a useful way
Useful components displayed per result
Clearly present a link to open the full text
  ASIST: Information Grounds
Information Grounds
Tuesday, November 1, 2005, 5pm

Karen Fisher
See Fisher et al, JASIST 2004 for IG Propositions

Broad range of settings, Most popular

Bonding and bridging social capital
IG as hostage phenomenon – when people are stuck together

Lynne McKechnie, Baby Storytime as Information Ground
Background, everyday information seeking, storytime articles
Exploratory study using participant observation.
Emerging results
Children:  physical, literacy, social learning
Adult: learning, information sharing
(she told great stories)

  ASIST: Managing and Disseminating Scientific Data and Information
Managing and Disseminating Scientific Data and Information: A Technical Discussion
Tuesday, November 2, 2005

Brad Hemminger
Astronomy data growth, huge.  Each image is 16kx16k pixels – 1terabyte of information a night.  Lots of observatories and facilities to share the data. Likewise with huge datasets in genetics and biomed

Digital data collections are a catalyst for the democratization of research and education
Archive and integrate or

Types of challenges
Technical (easier)
Knowledge - sharing (different languages) and storage

Critical steps
Overall semantic interoperable framework.  Standards for communicating knowledge.  Common public repositories (like Genbank)

More challenges

Jon Jablonski, GIS Data Management
People expect Google earth-type CSI magic GIS information work.  There’s an active user community building apps on Google Earth.  In reality, using the data is much more complicated.

GIS vector vs. raster.
Managed by many different agencies:  all levels of government, data librarians, map librarians. (a guy in a closet with a copy of ArcMap)
Data management:  1 PC, filing cabinets, file based repositories, geo-databases, clearing houses
CDs are cataloged as edited anthologies w/out a table of contents note.  The wetlands layer is one of 55 on the CD.
Respositories – sometimes brief, irregular, inconsistent metadata (a counter example is CUGIR, which is well organized)

Vs. Databases – tables will all of the various features, you can clip out the part you want
Vs. Clearinghouses (like geodata.gov) – you wind up only being able to see a screenshot (instead of live data) or you have to pay for the data


Wait for Google Earth hackers to fix the problem?

Bonnie Carroll, National Science Board Study Starts The Ball Rolling on Effective Management of Scientific Data in the US:  A Policy and Practical Report
Long-lived data report (l-l means that technology impacts its use)
To provide a framework for analysis, definitions for discussion
Research (project) vs. resource (community) vs. reference collections (global)

Mandated data collection maintenance – how paid for? Overhead?  Direct cost?
Data collections need curration, peer review – data scientists
Citation of datasets
Who owns the data?  Can you compete for the curation of the set?

Joint memo OSTP/OMB:  New emphasis on data collections and measurement of R&D investment impact (? Interesting)

Management of scientific collections (like piles of dead birds and butterflies at the Smithsonian)

GOESS – Global Observation of Earth System of Systems, remote sensing data

(note:  I made a mess of trying to ask this question, but there were some major issues here.  First, there are lots of complications in data sharing in science.  See Birnholtz’ dissertation online at CREW.  Second, the high level stuff Carroll talked about was very interesting, but way too much for the forum.  Too fast, too many acronyms, too much)
  ASIST: Personal Information Management
Personal Information Management in the Present and Future Perfect
Tuesday, November 01, 2005, 10:30

William Jones
“information science has provided no help in solving the PIM issue”

Harry Bruce
Growing challenge to individuals

Nick Belkin
How is personal information construed:  a la Susan Demarais, stuff you’ve seen.  Other source say stuff about you (like credit bureau reports)

Is the information I’ve gathered and used in my work mine or my employer’s?  Is it personal?

We need to have systems that understand us, that are our systems
6 controversial statements on searching, finding,
PIM is not about finding info when you need it, but having information when you need to use it.

Marcia Bates
Information as we store it tends to “silt-up” in patterns (like Bradford, Zipf).  See town development or geography research.  These distributions are robust and show up again and again in all social processes.  This happens in information.
“The information organizes us, not the other way around” – when we collect information regularly, these patterns show up.  When info bunches up in this way, if we can identify the centers of these bunches, these are the low hanging fruit, and we can just browse it, don’t need search.  If we go to suburban areas, we do need classical indexing and retrieval mechanisms. In even more rural or sparse areas it’s finding a needle in a haystack.  How can we use the information in the way it silts up in our personal information stores

Cathy Marshal
We are in the ‘epoch of forgetting’ (Umberto Eco) – we are not taking a long term view of PIM.
It’s not just about right time, right place, productivity.  Keeping information in the real world is benign forgetting and occasional binge organizing, in electronic era, it’s different.

Ofer Bergman
In general information management, the information is seen as communication.  In PIM, it’s communication of a person with himself over time.  User-subjective approach (see JASIST 2003).

Building a house around a search system is “building a house around the fire escape”

Reactions, discussion, questions

From NB to MB:  I understand the distribution, are these really immutable phenomenon.  Can things change so that we have a new distribution.  For example, ( ), is different from these geographical distribution
MB replies:  These stats are stable, but they manifest differently based on physical characteristics of the situation.  In normal circumstances

HB:  Refinding the same as finding.  Ideal that you have info when you need it.  Disagrees refinding is very much more frustrating than finding – very different because you know it exists.  Also refinding implies that you’ve made an effort to recall info, so you’ve selected it as important or useful.  Says refinding is actually a type of use.  You’ve placed it in context with other things you’ve kept on the subject.

MB:  Replying to CM, keep in mind that this isn’t only info – we are physical creatures, develop social, emotional, practical meaning around our physical objects.  These things have symbolic meanings
CM:  Replying to MB… what about a keep everything POV not represented on the panel.  People get something out of throwing away.  So when you encounter an object, it’s meaningful

OB:  Everyone feels guilty about their messes – don’t blame the user, it’s the system
MB:  False idea that it should be orderly… we follow least effort.  It really isn’t worth the effort for people to spend extra effort to organizing for refinding

NB:  Agree about extra effort.  There are plenty of contextual clues about when we use, find, reuse something… what was I doing while this happened, who did it come from, when did this happen.  When we find ourselves in similar situations along any of these dimensions, can the system make this stuff available based on context similarity.

Liz Riba – focus of people only as individual, what about shared tasks, tracking other peoples times.  We are part of familys, teams.  We do need to find other peoples information.

Potential conflation individuals managing information vs. management of individual’s information.  There a lot of legal mandates on what is kept where and how managed. (MB responds, not to replace archives)

WJ:  keeping affects how you experience information

Marianne (audience):  do people keep things born digital, in digital or do they print
CM responds:  people who were good at keeping print, are not so much so at digital… they trust that the bank to keep records and get sloppy with personal

Capra from VT (recent IEEE paper from IEEE magazine, see my blog) maybe finding and refinding are the same in some situations and different in others depending on familiarity with subject and other factors

Benefits of forgetting, security-conscious state
NB:  your stuff migrates to the country
HB:  memory is an important part of pim.  Also on finding/refinding they’ve been studying personal information collections
CM: finding and refinding, depends on the situation, precision is important
WJ:  emotional component

HB:  a lot is on new tools, maybe should be on training, maybe we’re compounding the problem
  ASIST: Lost in Translation
Lost in Translation? Applying Information Behavior Research to Information Systems Design
Tuesday, November 01, 2005, 8:30am

Sandra Hirsh, Microsoft
Comparing an example of where research and designed worked together well (or successfully?) and one where they didn’t
Slide with the roles of research in development projects from setting goals for user emotional reaction, creating scenarios, setting metrics for success, participatory design (ethnographic research), evaluating design from mock ups and prototypes

Scenario 1:  research and design don’t see eye to eye
Lead designer felt:  We need to start designing right away, we know enough about the user, we can learn what we need along the way, we don’t have time right now.
What could have helped

Scenario 2:  did see eye to eye
Found some surprising problems in trials.  Business, design, and ? teams took research results to heart and made significant changes late in the process.  
What worked:

It’s a two way street
Designers need to be open to input from researchers, need to do the best thing for the user (not design for themselves)

Researchers need to be involved early in the process, provide grounded, timely, and actionable suggestions.

Gary Marchionini, UNC
It is a matter of tech transfer (?)

David Hendry, UW
Developing an architecture of participation for successful information sharing
IB Research
vs IS Design

IB Research
Specificity & Applicability – content appropriate, must apply to the target domains

In future work or recommendations section – not specific enough, only loosely informative and constraining
Detailed accounts are difficult to make into artifacts

In his example they were doing a study of a risk awareness tool for stds for young adults.  They created a paper mock up (tried to get a picture).  They took the paper to the street, intending to pick random passers by and take them to a local coffee shop.  Participants more comfortable participating there on the street. (this was surprising)

Told stories of who they interviewed.  Lots of usability issues.  Being involved in this test on the street allowed them to make more concrete suggestions.  Information system design can inform how we do research.  

Audience participation

Argument between GM and DH about whether theory or practice comes first (especially in one specific case)

Belkin – tenet of participatory design is continuing development or evolution of design and actually changing use.  Systems need to be designed to support this evolution and researchers need to stay involved.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
  Reports of the Demise of the "User" Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
Reports of the Demise of the “User” Have Been Greatly Exaggerated: Dervin’s Sense-Making and the Methodological Resuscitation of the User --  Looking Backwards, Looking Forward

Karen Fisher, When the user isn't really the user, nobody is yet using, and uses are multifold

The user isn’t always the user – they’re seeking information for someone else (they use the term proxy searcher) OR noone is yet using OR iceberg

New view of the sense-making metaphor – multiple interacting users, information incidents can be spontaneous/loose, plurality, holistic…

She talked really, really, really, fast…

Catherine Ross, Users as sense-makers: What are the entailments of taking this methodological approach to studying/ helping users?
She discusses how Dervin’s model has really changed how the users are treated.

Instead of bad guy users, Users are part of the transaction (they don’t just hand off) – they work together to solve the problem.  Librarian has strategies to end the transaction and the user fights back. (see Durrance’s measure of will they return to that librarian)

Studies of avid readers – not looking at the texts.  She talked to readers and asked them sense-making questions.  Found how pleasure reading helps in their lives.

It’s the good enough reference answer that helps the customer get through life or the good enough book – that helps the reader at that point in their life and gives them the experience they want at that point in their life.

Paul Solomon, Discovering information through Sense-Making (theory and method): Developing theory and methodology by understanding action
Sense making is not static.  

Michael Olsson, Using Sense-Making to Study Sense-Making
He did his dissertation on Brenda Dervin and how users construct her work.

Brenda Dervin, A beast with many arms: How and why Sense-Making Methodology grew and mutated
Too subjective, too sensational, too motivational, too ideological, too self-serving?  The user is dead?  Yes, can we find another word?  We’re still serving someone, human beings, what else to call them?

S-M Communicatings:  culture-personal, instrumental-humanistic, what is what might be, the inline and the out of line (lots more, she talked fast).  Sensemaking is the communicating that happens in those gaps.  Information behavior is communicating behavior.  Research is communicating.

“We were studying what is, not what might be” Listening to what people say, not what they might say if they trusted us.

What’s important to her:
Magic wand question
Power question

See:  http://communication.sbs.ohio-state.edu/sense-making/ for a lot more on sense making

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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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