School of Information Management & Systems
 Previously School of Library & Information Studies

  296a-1 Seminar: Information Access.
 ("The Friday Afternoon Seminar")
 Summaries - Fall 2004.

Fridays 3-5. 107 South Hall. Schedule.
Summaries will be added below as they become available.

Aug 13: Julian Warner, Belfast: A labor theoretic approach to information retrieval
    In the post-Edenic world, we are condemned to labor and compelled to choose. Labor has often been conceived as physical rather than mental labor and has seldom been connected with choice. Yet in information retrieval systems, mental labor and choice can be seen to converge. Examining their convergence can yield an evaluative model for information retrieval, closely linked to real world forces and practice.
    The essential aim for information retrieval systems is taken as selection power rather than the transformation of a query into a set of relevant records. Selection power is regarded as the product of selection labor. Selection labor is taken to be composed of description labor and search labor.
    A certain quantity of selection labor, associated with the number and variety of objects described within a system, is assumed. Components of selection labor can be transferred to information technologies and the distribution of selection labor between description and searching can be modified, but the overall quantity of labor cannot be reduced. Description labor is distinguished from description processes, and, more sharply, from description products (such as catalog or database records).
    Two significant constraints can work against enhancing selection power. First, the costs of direct human labor in description and searching may lead to a preference for economy in the use of that labor. Secondly, there are epistemological difficulties in representation of objects. These constraints have tended to be considered separately, with more attention given to epistemological issues. Constraints arising from the costs of human labor may have been more influential on practice.
    A decision framework for the consideration, design, and use of information retrieval systems is then constructed: description labor should be increased, and selection power enhanced, until the costs of that description labor approach the anticipated costs of search labor.
    The implications of this decision framework for information retrieval systems are considered. A reduction in human description work and a transfer of labor and expertise to the searcher, for many public systems, are both predicted and exemplified.
    The framework for consideration established demonstrates the analytic and practical value of a revealing theory.
    Julian Warner is in the School of Management and Economics, The Queen's University, Belfast, and was Visiting Scholar here in 1991/92.

Sept 3: Clifford LYNCH: Introduction to the Seminar.
    Fredric GEY & Ray LARSON: Report on SIGIR
    "SIGIR" is the principal international forum for the presentation of new research results and the demonstration of new systems and techniques in the broad field of information retrieval. The 27th Annual International ACM SIGIR Conference was held at the University of Sheffield, UK, from July 25 to July 29, 2004. See Highlights of the conference will be summarized.

Sep 10: Clifford LYNCH: Research Questions in Digital Stewardship.
    Over the summer I have been working on a book dealing with stewardship in the digital age. In this presentation I will briefly summarize some of the key points in my thinking about this, and then focus on three issues in more detail. These are (1) the construction and definition of the "intellectual record" or the "cultural record" and the relationship of this to various other ideas such as cultural heritage or patrimony; (2) the integrity of the record, and the relationships of this to copyright, censorship, banned books, and similar issues, and (3) the changes in the realm of personal and family behavior in the digital age. Topic (3) may carry foward to later session of the seminar this fall, depending on how the discussion evolves.

Dep 17: Bruce MILLER, University Librarian, UC Merced: Tomorrow's research university library: University of California, Merced.
    Assignment: create a research university library for the 21st century. Day one: no buildings, no books, no students, no faculty, no staff. Unique circumstances at UC Merced have allowed (and occasionally forced) innovative approaches to developing a research university library. A brief overview of the history of the University of California, Merced and related issues and opportunities will set the stage for an exploration of the creation this newest UC library. What kind of building do you create when library services are provided 24/7 to anyone anywhere with a network connection? Will RFID mean the downfall of civilization? How about a library that literally is without walls? Is it ok to use pizza for a bookmark? How many large screen computer displays does it take to provide signage, access to fine art, and NASCAR races? Reference collection? Why would we want a reference collection? For that matter, why would we even care about how many books we own? Welcome to the Post-ARL library.

Sep 24: Clifford LYNCH: Research Questions in Digital Stewardship - Continued.
    This talk will continue the discussion from the September 10th Seminar. Having now established some of the fundamental issues involving stewardship of the cultural and intellectual record in a digital environment, I'll next explore the nature of various threats to this record in digital form of both a technical and a legal nature. We will then turn to consider how digital technology is shifting personal behavior and records of personal activity, and explore how these may interact with the more public record in the future.

Oct 1: Five Inquiries:
    Sarah ELLINGER: Tracking Children's Information Retrieval Tactics in and out of the Library.
    This literature review will attempt to answer the questions: how are children's out-of-library information retrieval tasks and skills effecting their work in library contexts? What tactics or fluencies are they developing in informal contexts, and are those tactics and fluencies possible or desirable to integrate into more formal digital resources? How are existing resources for children facing this challenge?.
    Peter MONFORE: The Internationalization of the Creative Commons.
   My research will explore the Creative Commons project ( as a response to "full copyright" and also increased commercialization on/of the Internet. I will expand upon this by discussing efforts by the Creative Commons to create international laws and regulations so that the Creative Commons copyright schema can be used outside of the United States.
    Catherine NEWMAN: Image Capture and Cataloging.
    An exploratory review of image cataloging frameworks. Hoping this will be the spark for a provocative dissertation. Potentially a system for storing student design projects for reuse and study. Interests include assessment and evaluation issues and I hope for some discussion of how to have system with minimal reliance on text.
    Shelby PEAK: The Uhle Collections at Berkeley: Online Tools for Archaeologists.
    I am currently involved in a project to organize a collection of archaeological artifacts here at Berkeley, with the end result of serving the collection on the web as a research tool. As part of that project I want to investigate the ways that archaeologists conduct research. What information do they look for? How do they go about collecting that information? And in extension: how can this be accomplished online, or aided with online tools? What resources are currently available to archaeologists and how useful are they?
    Annie YEH: Microsoft Word 2003 and Melvyl; and Content Management Systems.

Oct 8: Michael BUCKLAND, Ray LARSON, Lin MUEHLINGHAUS: Support for the Learner: What, Where, When, and Who.
    A new project, entitled Support for the Learner: What, Where, When, and Who, has been funded by IMLS. The PIs are Michael Buckland, Fredric Gey, and Ray Larson. The new project builds on recent work demonstrating how geographical searching could be improved by getting an online catalog interoperate with an online gazetteer and maps displays. The new task is to also extend that approach to time (using named time period directories and timelines) and people (using biographical dictionaries). This will provide a structure for What, Where, When, and Who.
    In addition, in collaboration with Prof. Lin Muehlinghaus of Dominican University, a prototype will be tested as an aid for K12 teachers assembling materials for lesson plans.
    I will describe and discuss the project and speculate on how an "intermediate infrastructure of metadata could provide a fresh approach to search and selection in the new internet environment and "new media".

Oct 15: Paul DUGUID & Geoffrey NUNBERG: "The Quality of Information" Is Explained.
    The notion that led us to come put together our SIMS course on "the quality of information" was that there are some common threads to the range of issues that people are trying to come to grips with as the Internet becomes a part of the fabric of everyday life -- concerns about plagiarism and hoaxes, the difficulty of locating reliable information about a topic, the ease of access to racist and pornographic sites, and all the other problems that we group as "rotten information." In this talk, we'll suggest how problems like these arise historically when there are disruptions in the complex interaction of technology, communicative forms, market forces, and institutional and legal frameworks. And we'll try to connect these to the notion of "information literacy" -- what kinds of skills and understanding do people require to deal with the new order of discourse?

Oct 22: Shared session with Document Academy conference:
    Seminar participants are invited to attend the Friday afternoon sessions of the conference in South Hall 107:
1:00 p.m. Welcome.
1:15 p.m. Jean-Michel SalaŁn: How computing requires one to rethink what a document is.
2:15 p.m. Bernd Frohmann : The Multiplicities of Documentation.
3:30 p.m. Ron Day : What makes for a "Materialist" Analysis of Documents.
4:15 p.m. Niels Windfeld Lund: An experimental approach - the importance of Herbert A. Simon for document analysis.
    For details and registration for the rest of the conference see:

Oct 29: Students' progress reports.
    Annie YEH: Building a Melvyl Research Service for Creating Citations in Microsoft Word 2003.
    The Research Panel in MicroSoft Word 2003 allows one to access Web Services and retrieve and insert information from those services directly into the document. Examples of existing MS Word research services include the Amazon Research Pane, the Google Research Pane, and Factiva, to name a few. I believe that it would be useful for scholarly and instructional practices to have the capability to search digital library services directly from a MS Word 2003 document and have an automatic mechanism for building citations from the metadata returned on the search. A reasonable starting point would be to have a Research Service in MS Word 2003 as a client of the Melvyl system. Questions around this issue: how useful would this tool be, given the bibliographic citation management tools already out there, and how would this be implemented?
    Shelby PEAK: The Uhle Collections @ Berkeley: Online Tools for Archaeologists.
    As part of my work in constructing an online archive for the Uhle archaeological collections here at Berkeley, I am investigating the ways that archaeologists conduct research. What sources do they rely on? In which ways do they approach their subject? Do they use online resources? If so, which ones are available, and which ones are useful? To begin answering these questions, I am conducting a literature survey of works about the research process for archaeologists, and compiling and analyzing a list of available online resources.
    Catherine NEWMAN: Leveraging Images for Design Reuse.
    Over the past weeks I have been simply following the leads given to me by people knowledgeable in the appropriate subjects. The result has been a deluge of information. Unfortunately/fortunately all of this information seems relevant on some level. My challenge at this point is to prioritize hierarchically the information I have discovered. Ideally this literature review will serve as a map and a game plan for my future research. I have begun to lay out how what I\222ve discovered might relate to my work.
    Peter MONFORE:     The Internationalization of the Creative Commons.
In this continued discussion of the worldwide proliferation of the Creative Commons project (known as iCommons) I will emphasize: Part 1. Synposis of the iCommons: a) "Overview of Process"; b) "Completed Licenses" (9 Countries); c) "Project Jurisdictions" (12 Countries). Part 2. Project Goals & Challenges: a) What I've done; b) Where I'm going; c) What's slowing me down.
    Sarah ELLINGER: Investigating Children's Informal Information Retrieval Tactics.
    As we discussed last time, this topic is huge in scope, and work in this area will likely result in questions rather than conclusions. With that in mind, I've been reviewing the literature to assemble at least some of what is known about children and information retrieval in informal, that is, non-assigned, situations. Then, I've been using social network theory, particularly Elfreda Chatman's theoretical model of an "information world", to discuss the questions: Given an information need, what do we know about how children become aware of helpful information? What environmental or contextual factors can we identify as affecting information retrieval? How does access or lack of access to information technologies affect information retrieval?

Nov 5: Lynne WITHEY, Director, UC Press: A Publisher's Perspective on the "Crisis" in Scholarly Publishing.
    Much has been said over the past couple of years about the crisis facing scholarly publishing and its potential consequences for scholars. Lynne Withey, Director of the UC Press, will offer her perspective on the crisis, the solutions that have been proposed by various players in the debate, and future directions for university presses and other nonprofit publishers.

Nov 12: Cathy MARSHALL, Senior Researcher, Microsoft.   Personal Digital Libraries: Filling in the Missing Pieces.
    More than three years ago Clifford Lynch predicted that in the near future the appliances that were conceived as electronic books would transcend their limited role as paper book surrogates and become portable personal digital libraries. Why hasn't this happened? Certainly it seems that hardware is no longer the culprit. In this talk, I'll examine at least three other reasons why we're not there yet: (1) the mysterious nature of our interactions with what we read; (2) modes of information access apart from searching and browsing; and (3) problems with personal archiving and maintaining one's own digital library over an extended time period. In addition to discussing these obstacles, I'll also wax optimistic and talk about changes I've noted over the past three years that make personal digital libraries a likely development.

Nov 19: Ray LARSON: Spatial Search and Ranking Methods for Geographic Information Retrieval (GIR).
    This informal talk will describe some recent research in geographic information retrieval including spatial ranking methods, and use of additional sources like gazetteers to search across multiple types of information resources. It will be based on his paper with Patty Frontiera which received the "Best Paper" award at the recent European Conference on Digital Libraries. Pre-print is at and a related poster is at

Nov 26: Thanksgiving holiday. No seminar.

Dec 3: Clifford LYNCH: Discussion and Catch-up on Events of Interest.
    Highlights and interesting papers from the ASIS&T meeting in Providence, RI, November 2004; More on the UK Data Curation Center, Edinburgh; CoData meeting in Berlin; Report on Reading at Risk Coloquium at University of Maryland; Post-Mortem on the 2004 Document Academy Meeting; Report on the ACLS Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities; and other events.

Dec 10: Students' final presentations. Last seminar meeting of semester.
    Shelby PEAK: The Uhle Collections @ Berkeley: An Evaluation of and Recommendations for Archaeological Research Websites
    As part of my larger work on designing an online archive for UC Berkeley's collection of Uhle materials, this semester I looked at current literature on similar collections as well as the state of online resources for archaeological research. I will present my findings on how to evaluate archaeological research websites, and make recommendations for the Uhle project in particular.
    Sarah ELLINGER: Exploring the Question of "Informal" Information Retrieval.
    I set out this semester to look for clues about information retrieval behavior outside of restricted or guided contexts such as the library and the classroom. At the same time I was looking for theoretical models or ways of understanding informal information retrieval behaviors. Both tasks proved challenging.
    Peter MONFORE: The Internationalization of the Creative Commons.
    I will be discussing the current status of the iCommons project and their plans for the future. I will include a summary of the current climate of intellectual property in th e United States (DMCA) and in the European Union (EUCD). This global perspective will help to highlight the unique problems that intellectual property issues present on an international lev el and how the iCommons project has been created, in part, to address some of these problems.
    Catherine NEWMAN: Plans for an Student Design Reuse Imagebase.
    Presentation will include a walk through of a prospective imagebase designed to capture student projects for the purpose of reuse. Will also include a summary of brainstorming session titled, 'image quality for design reuse'.
    Annie YEH: A Melvyl Research Panel for Microsoft Word
    In my work with Raymond Yee of the Interactive University Project, we've hypothesized that it would be useful to have a Microsoft Research Service that searches Melvyl from within a Word document. From the searches returned, the user could then format the metadata into proper citations. This semester, I conducted interviews with scholars to determine how they gather their research materials and make citations and to get their feedback on the potential usefulness of such a tool. I also learned how the MS Research Service works, and did some initial implementation work for the Melvyl part of this service. I will highlight some of the feedback I got from scholars and discuss the implementation work I've done to date.

The next scheduled seminar meeting is Jan 21, 2005.
  Fall 2004 schedule.   Spring 2004 schedule and summaries.