Previously School of Library & Information Studies
Friday Afternoon Seminar: Summaries.
296a-1 Seminar: Information Access, Spring 2016.
Fridays 3-5. 107 South Hall.
Schedule. Weekly mailing list.
FRIDAY AFTERNOON SEMINAR ON INFORMATION ACCESS.
South Hall 107, Fridays 3-5 pm
Summaries will be added as they become available.
Jan 22: Ron DAY, Indiana University: The Ends of Reason:
Documents, Evidence, and Powers.
In my talk I will outline a project that looks at
the philosophy of what I call documentarity: documents as evidence
of what is. I will examine reductionist representation in the 20th
century documentalist Paul Otlet’s theoretical works, indexicality
in Suzanne Briet’s works, and ethnographic representation in
Georges Bataille’s works on documents. This is preliminary work on
a larger work on documentarity and beings.
Ron Day, Associate Professor of
Information and Library Science, Indiana University,
researches the philosophy, history, politics, and culture of
information, documentation, knowledge, and communication in the
20th and 21st centuries in the U.S. and Western Europe and in
the discipline of Library and Information Science.
include The modern invention of Information: Discourse, history,
and power (2001) and Indexing it all: The subject in the age
of documentation, information, and data (2014), which won the ASIST
Book of the Year Award. More at info.slis.indiana.edu/~roday/.
Jan 29: Lisa BÖRJESSON and Short Reports.
Lisa BÖRJESSON, Uppsala: Knowledge makers muddling through:
Conditions for documentation and report writing in extra-academic research.
Knowledge making takes place in a variation of
different organisational settings throughout society. Significant
amounts of research is for example undertaken in commercial companies
selling their research as a services. But what are the conditions for
doing, documenting and reporting research in these settings? And how
should we understand and integrate these increasingly available outcomes
of extra-academic research with outcomes of research published
traditionally? In this presentation I will talk about findings from
a recent study of conditions for report writing in commercial
archaeology, and discuss how users of reports can benefit from
insights gained in this study.
Lisa Börjesson is a third year Ph.D.
student at Uppsala University in Sweden, and a former visiting
student researcher at the UC Berkeley iSchool. Her research is
part of the research project ARKDIS (Archaeological Information
in the Digital Society). www.abm.uu.se/research/Ongoing+Research+Projects/ARKDIS/.
Besides her thesis, Lisa is currently
working on an edited volume with the working title 'Research
outside the academy: Professional knowledge-making in the public
Also: Short Reports on current activities.
Feb 5: Wayne DE FREMERY, Sogang University, Korea.
Bibliography and the Sociology of Data.
In his Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts,
D. F. McKenzie famously suggests that books are expressive forms:
“sociology simply reminds us of the full range of social realities which the
medium of print had to serve, . . .. [. . . and] the human motives and
interactions which texts involve at every stage of their production,
transmission, and consumption. It alerts us to the roles of institutions
. . ..” I will outline a framework for a “sociology of data” by investigating
data as expressive forms. What kinds of tools could document the human
motives and interactions which data involve at every stage of their
production, transmission, and consumption? How might the full range social
realities which data serve be documented? How might we document data in ways
that help us to understand the ways that institutions affect social
In order to suggest more general approaches to each of
these questions and how we might document the procedures and machines
that present computer data to us, the talk will begin with a discussion of
new software tools that discern valuable patterns in the systems used to
encode digital versions of literary texts from early twentieth century
Performances are documents. So theatrical performance may be
a model for documenting the social realities that data serve. A book of
Korean poetry as a digitally enacted theater experience will be discussed
as one possible model for documenting the social realities that data serve.
Other forms of documents and documentary practice will be
needed to document the sociology of data. Textual models printed using
3D printers will be discussed to think about how new documentary forms
can illuminate how institutions affect social discourse.
In the ubiquity and variety of its evidence, bibliography
as a sociology of data will have an unrivalled power to resurrect those
who have created data in their own time, and users of data at any time.
By dealing with the facts of transmission and the material evidence of
reception, the sociology of data can make discoveries as distinct from
inventing meanings. In focusing on data as recorded forms, it defines a
common point of departure for any historical or critical enterprise,
humanistic or scientific. New readers/users of data make new data, and
their new meanings are a function of their new forms.
Wayne de Fremery is an assistant professor of
Korean Studies, Sogang University, in Seoul, Korea. He has a background
in Economics and is an award-winning book designer. His 2011 doctoral
dissertation at Harvard, “How Poetry Mattered in 1920s Korea,” presents
a bibliography and sociology of Korean poetic texts from the early
twentieth century. More at home.sogang.ac.kr/sites/gks/intro001/testmenu2/Pages/defremery.aspx
Feb 12: Michael BUCKLAND: Relevance and Other Basic Problems.
Relevance is the central evaluation criterion in
information retrieval evaluation. Search and discovery services yielding
relevant responses to queries now constitute an important industry.
Indirectly (through bibliometrics) relevance indicators are increasingly
the basis for academic evaluations. Yet, even though relevance has been
considered a central concept in information science for fifty years and
closely examined, there is still no satisfactory definition or explanation.
Why is this? I will draw on recent seminar discussions to explore and
try to explain this and other basic problems in understanding information.
Feb 19: Anna Lauren HOFFMANN: Information Justice Beyond Distributions:
Exploring Social Justice, Information, and Access.
In this talk, Anna will introduce some of the salient
themes of her research and writing on ethics and social justice as it
relates to information and, increasingly, data science today. She'll
outline some normative challenges--both enduring and emergent--and
frames for addressing them (especially informed by her background in
Rawlsian political theory and its major critics), drawing on a range
of applied examples--from Google Books to Tinder and beyond.
Anna Lauren Hoffmann is a trans woman and
scholar working at the intersections of information, technology,
culture, and ethics. She is currently a postdoctoral scholar at the
Berkeley School of Information, where she is currently teaching the Berkeley's
first undergraduate course dedicated to data and ethics. Prior to
her arrival in the Bay Area, she worked at the University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Information Studies, where she completed
her PhD in Spring of 2014. Links to her work are available at anneveryday.com/about.
Feb 26: Jennifer SCHAFFNER: and Clifford LYNCH.
Jennifer SCHAFFNER: Of Rare Books and Research Datasets:
Survival, Adoption, Sale, and Abandonment of Unique Materials.
Experts estimate that about 300 universities and colleges
in the US alone will merge or close their doors in the next twenty years.
What will become of their special collections, born-digital materials,
and research datasets? This seminar will examine established procedures
for re-appraisal, adoption, sale, and discard of rare books and archives.
In special collections, these controversial transactions may ensure
survival of socially important artifacts, when they must change hands.
At the same time, we would like to discuss what elements of these
practices, guidelines, business models, and legal contracts from special
collections could be repurposed for transitions of digital stewardship,
which are due to the burgeoning need to appraise, deaccession, preserve,
and find a good home for culturally significant and unique digital
Jennifer Schaffner’s most recent position was
working with international alliances of librarians at OCLC Research,
the “think tank” of a non-profit library cooperative and vendor.
Previously, Jen was a librarian and archivist at Stanford, the New York
Public Library, Princeton, the California Historical Society, and UCLA.
Clifford LYNCH: Stewardship Transitions as an
The transfer of stewardship responsibilities, from
creators to stewards, or from steward to steward (involving markets,
collectors, and stewardship institutions) represent a crucial structure
in the management of the broad cultural and scholarly record. This
structure is very complex and multi-faceted, and has not been well
studied in a systematic fashion. It's also clear that it's changing
rapidly due to pressures and stresses that include the extensive
restructuring of the landscape of stewardship institutions and the
changing frameworks of ownership and sewardship surrounding digital
materials. We'll revisit these issues as part of my subsequent
presentation scheduled for March 4, building on Jennifer's
Mar 4: Clifford LYNCH: The Practice of Stewardship as a Scholarly
I believe that a systematic and broad study of the
practices, policies and condition of the cultural record is emerging
as a discipline in its own right, and squarely within the remit of
Schools of Information as their programs evolve; indeed, it draws
upon a very wide range of intellectual inquiry hosted at i-schools,
including economics of information, information management,
information assurance and security, digital preservation, and library,
museum and archival practices. In this talk I'll try to define some
of the key research questions that such a discipline must engage
and explore. These include:
- Inventory and Mapping: What is the cultural record, how is it
evolving, how big is it, and what parts are currently being manged
by stewardship institutions.
- Selection, Appraisal and Re-appraisal. What are the priorities
for stewardship. How are they establshed, and what principles
underpin them? How should they adjust under highly inadequate
resources? How centralized should decision making be?
- Legal and Policy issues. This includes, as a central question,
how to balance a public interest in stewardship with various
intellectual property, artists rights, and privacy regimes.
- Institutions, Collaboration and Succession. Who are the players,
and how do they define their roles. What happens when institutions
- Stewardship Transitions. How does responsibility and practical
curation move from one locus ot another? When and why do failures
occur, and what do we do about them?
This talk is an extended preview of a keynote that
I will give at the I-School conference later this month.
Mar 11: Jerome McGANN, University of Virginia: The Human Sciences
in STEM Worlds.
Humanist studies focus primarily on phenomena that are
singular, idiosyncratic, and – in a word – personal. As such, they can
appear to lack the procedural rigor that we rightly associate with Science,
Technology, Engineering and Mathematical disciplines. But the rigor of
humanist studies is not STEM-deficient, it is just STEM-different.
We can see the difference best if we take a philological rather than a
philosophical view of the humanities. The truth of the humanities is
not an idea but a practice, not a theory but a method. And the state
of our social and cultural life today underscores our ongoing and very
practical need for a rigorous humanist ethics.
Please read Exceptional Measures: The Human Sciences
in STEM Worlds before the Seminar. Available at courses.ischool.berkeley.edu/i296a-ia/s16/STS-ADE15.pdf.
Jerome McGann is University Professor at the
University of Virginia and a spring semester Visiting Professor in
the Department of English at Berkeley. Well-known for his work on
nineteenth-century literature and digital humanities, he is currently
working on the history of colonial American treaties with Indian
nations of the eastern seaboard and its discursive afterhistory in
antebellum "Classic American Literature".
Mar 18: Nick DOTY and Avi RAPPOPORT.
Nick DOTY: Beginnings of an Interdisciplinary Center:
Update on the Center for Technology, Society & Policy.
Nick Doty will share experiences from the first six months
of activity from the Center for Technology, Society & Policy, including
our success and challenges in encouraging research, design and building
at the intersection of these fields. He'll describe what we've learned
from our fellows, research projects, blog posts, happy hours,
hackathons, reading groups, panel discussions -- and what could we do
with prizes, job boards, career placements, curriculum development
or other ideas for the future.
For info on the Center for Technology, Society & Policy
Nick Doty is a Director of the Center for
Technology, Society & Policy and a PhD candidate at the School
of Information, studying how privacy and other values are considered
during the technical design process. He researches privacy in
standard-setting for the Internet and the World Wide Web and
co-teaches the Technology & Delegation Lab. More at https://npdoty.name.
Avi RAPPOPORT: News and Notes about Enterprise Search.
Open-source search is now state-of-the-art, Google is
discontinuing its hardware/software search engine, and all the leading
commercial search vendors have been swallowed by the biggest enterprise
software companies, and in HP's case, proved almost indigestible.
How this fits into information access is worth discussing.
Avi Rappoport received her Master's here when
it was the School of Library and Information Studies ('88), worked
in Macintosh software development for a decade, and has been
consulting on and analyzing enterprise search ever since. She
has worked on projects for Kaiser Permanente, Apple marketing,
the Sierra Club, the Library of Congress, Salon, VeriSign, the
Librarian's Index to the Internet, and many other companies.
Mar 25: Spring Break. No Seminar meeting.
Apr 1: In room 205. Clifford LYNCH: Software Preservation
and Attacks on the Cultural Record.
1. Reflections on the diverse objectives of
software preservation, and relationships between preservation,
sustainability, and obsolescence. Recent progress on the techolologies
of emulation and virtualization have changed many of the assumptions
here. (See for example the recent work of David Rosenthal, who spoke
at the Seminar last semester about this topic). Recognition
that software is an integral part of the verification and reproduction
of more and more research results has been a new source of
requirements somewhere in the preservation-sustainability continuum.
In this discussion I want to revisit some of the assumptions and
goals involved in managing software over time.
2. (As time permits). I would like to open a
discussion of lines of attack on the cultural record that are used
to selectively purge materials, disrupt the record's integrity, and
block or deter stewardship organizations. I believe that these
lines of attack have become more numerous and diverse in recent
decades, with the shift of increasingly large amounts of the record
to digital forms further complicating the situation. This is
intended to be an exploratory rather than definitive discussion.
Apr 8: Jim MICHALKO: Library Collaboration - Does it have a future?
Jim recently retired from his position as VP,
Research Libraries at OCLC. In this session he will use his career
in librarianship, his time leading The Research Libraries Group
and his last decade at OCLC as the jumping off point for a
discussion of shared services in the library domain, the
difficulties of building collaborative infrastructure and the
relationships between local capacity, above-the-institution
capabilities and the academy.s shifting expectations of the
Prior to joining OCLC in 2006, Jim was the CEO
of the Research Libraries Group (RLG) for nearly 16 years.
Before directing RLG, Jim held positions in private industry
(medical technology, merger and acquisition analysis), the
University of Chicago libraries and the University of
Pennsylvania libraries. Jim holds graduate degrees from the
University of Chicago (MBA and MLS) and earned a bachelor of
arts at Georgetown University. Google him.
Apr 15: Jeff MACKIE-MASON, University Librarian: "Wasn't
Digitization Supposed to be Easy? And Good for Us?"
Cultural institutions — like libraries, archives
and museums — have remarkable collections of artifacts and
records documenting our social, cultural, economic, political,
personal &c. histories. These collections are treasures — for
teaching and scholarly research, for cultural understanding,
for the preservation and transmission of individual and family and
community identity and history. With the dawn of dirt cheap
digital information technology, the opportunity is obvious and
glorious: set our treasures free. Digitize everything, and make
it freely available to the world. All it takes is money … and not
very much of that anymore.
But wait: Is it really that easy? And should we
really do it?
With a couple of case studies, a few scattered
anecdotes and maybe a dramatic reading from Dave Eggers's The
Circle, I’ll offer a few reflections on why “setting our
treasures free” is a bit more fraught than it might seem at
Jeffrey MacKie-Mason is the new University
Librarian and Chief Digital Scholarship Officer, with joint
appointments in the School of Information and the Department of Economics.
He was a professor at the University of Michigan for 29 years (Information
and Computer Science, Economics, and Public Policy) and Dean of the School
of Information, 2010-2015. He has been a pioneering scholar in the
economics of the Internet, online behavior, and digital information
creation and distribution. More at www.jeff-mason.com/.
Apr 22: Cheryl HOLZMEYER, Stanford: Public Health NGOs and Open Science
Politics: Rhetorics of Openness, Health Field Contestations, and the
Elusiveness of Health Equity.
This talk will discuss research into the relevance of
open access initiatives to public health NGOs, situating this research
in broader contexts of open science and health equity politics. In
particular, it will examine tensions between biomedical and social
determinants of health research paradigms and their implications for
discourses of openness. Along the way it will touch on challenges of
translating greater public access to research into greater public
health equity, including in a Bay Area context.
Cheryl Holzmeyer is a sociologist and
postdoctoral research associate of the Public Knowledge Project https://pkp.sfu.ca/
at Stanford University, as well as the Center for Collaborative Research
for an Equitable California https://ccrec.ucsc.edu/.
Apr 29 & May 6: No Seminar meeting.
May 13: Melanie FEINBERG, Univ. of North Carolina:
Making Use of Interpretive Flexibility in Metadata Implementation.
People organize information differently, even when they employ
standardized mechanisms (such as metadata schemas, controlled vocabularies,
and detailed guidelines) for doing so. Theoretical discussions, empirical
observations, and experimental assessments in various domains concur: we
should expect interpretive flexibility to emerge in all data collection
activities. Nonetheless, practices associated with the development of metadata
standards, the generation of data according to these standards, and the
aggregation of standards-compliant datasets continue to view interpretive
flexibility as a solvable problem.
In this talk, I examine the persistent
dissonance between evidence (that interpretive flexibility is inevitable)
and practice (which continues to “aim for” semantic interoperability based
on consistent application of standards). I use findings from a critical
design study to locate this dissonance within particular values associated
with notions of user-centered information access. To address this situation,
I contend that, if we hope to curate, aggregate, and use datasets responsibly
and well, we need to better understand the kinds of interpretive differences
that appear even when metadata standards are employed.
Further, I suggest
that interpretive flexibility in metadata implementation also has utility,
albeit a form of utility associated with a different set of design values.
I illustrate this with a set of examples from an experimental dataset of
videogame metadata, where creators of metadata records applied a standardized
schema and associated controlled vocabularies to describe a set of common
games. Analysis of these examples demonstrates how useful evidence emerges
from the metadata creators’ creative, flexible interpretations of
Melanie Feinberg is an associate professor at the
School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Melanie is a classificationist: she studies
the design of systems for organizing information. Her research approach
blends information studies, the humanities, and human-computer interaction.
Melanie has a doctorate from the University of Washington (2008) and a
master’s from the Berkeley School of Information (2004), when it was known
as the School of Information Management and Systems (SIMS).
The Seminar will resume in the Fall semester.