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

  296a-1 Seminar: Information Access.
 ("The Friday Afternoon Seminar")
 Summaries - Spring 2003.

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

Jan 24: Movie: Paul Otlet, The Man who Wanted to Classify the World.

    West Coast Premiere! Including a few seconds filmed in South Hall!!
    The Man Who Wanted to Classify the World: From the Index Card to the World City: The Visionary Life of a Belgian Utopian, Paul Otlet (1868-1944), a documentary made for public television by Francoise Levie, a professional documentary film maker in Brussels.
    Paul Otlet, an idealist young Belgian lawyer, set out in September 1895 to solve the world's information problems, both in theory and in practice. For forty years he tirelessly explored the central issues of Information Management: hypertext, faceted classification, user-friendly workstations, document formating, technical standards, etc. Already in 1925 he realised that cathode ray tubes and TV technology would allow people to read remote texts on a screen in their own homes and and tried to do a cost analysis.     His "Treatise on Documentation" (1934), although obviously obsolete with respect to technology, is arguably still the completest text. But like almost all the pioneers in our field from the period before 1945, when Europe was ahead of North America, Otlet (and others who did not write in English) were almost completely forgotten until a revival of interest in the history of information management in the 1990s.
    Francoise Levie, a documentary movie maker, heard about Otlet and set out to discover who he was. This 65 minute documentary shows how she did that and what she found.     For more on Paul Otlet, see

Jan 31: No seminar meeting.

Feb 7: Nicolas DUCHENEAUT: The Sociotechnical Construction of Open Source Software.
    Open Source Software (OSS) development is often characterized as a fundamentally new way to develop software. In many OSS projects developers work in geographically distributed locations, rarely or never meet face-to-face, and coordinate their activities over the Internet. In efforts to understand OSS development, social scientists have examined the socioeconomic, political and institutional aspects of this movement. However, few studies have paid close attention to the materiality of OSS projects. Indeed email, code and databases constitute the material means through which OSS projects are coordinated and also the material productions of OSS development efforts. It is crucial to take this notion seriously and make material things the focus of OSS studies in order to really understand how these online spaces function.
    I study software development by following the sociotechnical processes that produce, circulate, and transform the email, code and databases of OSS. My approach to studying OSS comprises two mutually informing activities: ethnography and the construction and use of software to visualize and explore the networks of humans and non-humans incorporated in the email, code and databases of OSS. This software's purpose is novel in that it serves both as a theoretical statement and as a tool.
    I hope to illustrate how the place of software in science and technology studies might be extended to support a practice of "technography" -- a way to embody the findings of ethnographic work in a technical artifact, which in turn can be used as the starting point for further ethnographic research or a way of strengthening the insights of ethnographic analysis. During this talk I will describe this approach further and demonstrate the workings and visualizations of such a "technographic" software.

Feb 14: Aitao CHEN, Fredric GEY, Ray LARSON, & Michael BUCKLAND: Searching Across Different Genres: Texts, Numbers, and Places.
    Utopian visions of information service include providing access to all documents everywhere, all genres, in all formats, in all languages, and on every topic. This is hard to do! We will present recently completed work on "Seamless Searching of Numeric and Textual Resources"; work recently started on searching by place; and, if time permits, additional work we now wish to undertake on searching across multilingual, multigenre collections; and some reasons for making a substantial change in strategies for search support. For background see and

Feb 21: Emily LIGGETT & Clifford LYNCH
    Emily LIGGETT: Interfaces Designed for the Visualization of Complex Relationships.

    As more and more information gets created, it becomes more difficult for people to manage, gain insight into, and make conclusions about information sets using only the data-mining tools with which they are presented. In order to facilitate the tasks of working with large data sets, researchers have put considerable efforts into designing visualization tools to display the information in a manner where people can easily manage large data sets. These interfaces aim to display large networks of information in such a way that people can conceptualize relationships between information which cannot readily be obtained through previously existing information organization methods.
    I will introduce a few tools that have been designed in order to display large relationship sets. I will discuss the motivations for these tools and analyse the good and bad aspects of each tool.
    Clifford LYNCH: Key Research and Implementation Issues in Metadata.
    I'll examine a number of key research and implementation problems focused primarily on descriptive metadata in the networked environment.

Feb 28: Michael BUCKLAND and others: Going Places in the Catalog: Improved Geographical Access.
    Online library catalogs are not very effective in supporting searches by place and allowing searches to be limited by place. How could searching by place be improved? One approach would be to make better use of the several place-related cues in library catalog records that are currently not used. Another approach would be to use a gazetteer as a "place name authority file." Coupling a catalog with a gazetteer has additional interesting possibilities because the latitude and longitude data supplied in gazetteer entries would allow map visualizations displaying retrieval results and a way of specifying geographical aspects for a search.
    The federal Institute of Museum and Library Services recently awarded a National Library Leadership Grant to the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative to explore these possibilities, Fredric Gey, Ray Larson, and myself as Co-P.I.s. See The project is at a very early stage and the seminar will be a very informal, preliminary discussion of this work.

Mar 7: Richard BEAUBIEN, Ralph MOON, & Lynne GRIGSBY-STANDFILL, University Library Systems Office: Publishing, Organizing, and Managing of Digital Content.
    An update on the Library's local and inter-institutional projects that involve the publishing, organizing, and managing of digital content, including a discussion of the projects themselves, of the standards work that supports them, and of the changing IT infrastructure that provides their physical context.

Mar 14: Clifford LYNCH: Two Topics: e-Gutenberg-e Report; and Collaborative Filtering / Personalization.     Two topics:
1. A report from the Gutenberg-e meeting this week. This will deal with topics in authoring and publishing in the new digital medium; and
2. A request for help and input on the research agenda for collaborative filtering and personalization for the NSF-DELOS Working Group that I am participating in.

Mar 21: Alessandro ACQUISTI: Privacy, Anonymity, and Tracking in Computer-mediated Economic Transactions
    The reduction of the cost of storing and manipulating information has led organizations to capture and use increasing amounts of information about individual behavior. New trade-offs have emerged for parties involved with privacy-enhancing or privacy-intrusive technologies: individuals want to avoid the misuse of the information they pass along to others, but they also want to share enough information to achieve satisfactory interaction; organizations want to know more about the parties with which they interact, but they do not want to alienate them with intrusive policies. Is there a "sweet spot" that satisfies the interests of all parties? Is there a combination of economic incentives and technological solutions that is acceptable for the individual and beneficial to society?
    In my dissertation, I study some of the technological and economic issues that I find most interesting in this debate. I develop cryptographic tools to protect the privacy of individuals who participate to electronic transactions, and I study the economic incentives to deploy and use anonymizing and tracking technologies. In my talk I will introduce some of the results from my work. I will then focus on technical and economic aspects of the use of cookie-like technologies for price discrimination. Finally, I will extend the economic and technical analysis by considering its policy implications and by describing how economic incentives and specific technologies can be combined to address privacy and information security concerns in a networked society.

Mar 28: Spring Recess: No Seminar Meeting

Apr 4: Jerome McDONOUGH, New York University: METS and METS Profiling: A Not So Gentle Introduction.
    METS provides an XML format for encoding descriptive, administrative and structural metadata for digital library objects. As it also provides facilities for encapsulating object content, it is well-suited to serve as any of the various forms of Information Package specified in the OAIS Reference Model. I'll provide a technical introduction to METS, and also discuss METS profiling, an effort to further support interoperability of digital library repositories.
    Jerome McDonough is Digital Library Development Team Leader, Elmer Bobst Library, New York University.

Apr 11: John KUNZE, California Digital Library: What Makes Identifiers Persistent
    Persistent identifiers at first glance. Tangled terminology. Persistence aside, What about complete identification? Persistent identifiers at second glance. So what if some URLs break? Setting user expectations. Who is breaking URLs? Persistent identifiers at third glance. The Archival Resource Key (ARK) Scheme. Persistent identifiers at the California Digital Library (CDL). Technical references. rnet-drafts/draft-kunze-ark-05.txt (38 pages). icles/v02/i02/Kunze/

Apr 18: Linda Cathryn MUEHLINGHAUS (formerly Everstz), Dominican University of California: The difficulty of practicing what we preach: Teaching about culture in an on-line environment in K-12 teacher preparation.
    A discussion of difficulties encountered in using a hybrid instructional model: face-to-face and online discussion boards. Ethical, communication, and access issues: shifting instructional delivery modality; support and communication (access to usable computers; ease of use). Emotional issues: Tackling these issues without interpersonal support mechanisms; anonymity as a problem: Being polite to the faceless.
    Dr Muehlinghaus is Assistant Professor of Education at Dominican University of California. She completed her doctoral dissertation on The Myth of a Democratic Education and the Politics of Curriculum in the UCBerkeley School of Education in 1998.

Apr 25: Avi RAPPOPORT, Search Engine Consultant: Notes from the CHI Search Interface Workshop and the Infonortics Search Engines Meeting.
    I found consensus on interface issues, agreement on the value of faceted metadata, interest in usability testing, practical applications for NLP, real-world implementations, and discussions of the search industry and unstructured text. It's an interesting time.
    Avi Rappoport is a Consultant at Search Tools Consulting -

May 2: Merrilee PROFFITT, RLG: RedLightGreen: RLG Accelerates Undergraduate Research.
    With generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, RLG began work in early 2001 to explore how the rich information held in the RLG Union Catalog could be made available to a wider audience in a freely available Web environment. During the intervening time, we have learned volumes about what undergraduate users want from online information resources; how data mining software can uncover valuable new information hidden in the RLG Union Catalog; how to provide access to a wealth of complex information through a simple, easy-to-use interface; new opportunities for using bibliographic data to help end users find authoritative sources of research information; what is involved in the complicated process of transforming MARC records to XML; and incorporating concepts outlined in the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR), an emerging standard for distinguishing between various editions.
    This presentation will feature an explanation of the history, motivations, "lessons learned," and future directions of the project, a demo of the pilot system, and outtakes of use studies.

May 9: Last seminar meeting of the semester: Two presentations.

    Ethan EISMANN: Sustainable Knowledge Communities: Learning from the bIPLog
    Final Progress Report: Our research reveals that knowledge communities supported by weblogs successfully encourage their members to consistently read, analyze, and write about a topic, which leads to deep knowledge. By writing this paper we hope to encourage the production of and interrelations among high quality weblogs of specific topical focus, which we hope will result in the proliferation of robust and sustainable knowledge communities.

    Paul ELL, Queens University Belfast: From Printed Historical Census Data, to Electronic Datasets, to a Paper Atlas, to an Electronic Atlas of the Great Irish Famine.
    This talk will describes the digitisation of one of the largest historical datasets available for Ireland - the Database of Irish Historical Statistics. It will discuss the methodological challenges and solutions in data creation, documentation and preservation.
    The paper will then proceed to discuss one project which extensively used the data in a major work to map the Great Irish Famine. In the past, much of the work by scholars concerned with the Famine employed often complex quantitative or qualitative techniques, and not infrequently references were made to the spatially differing impact of the disaster. Very few maps have actually been created however, and no attempt has been made to chart systematically the regional impact of the Famine. Several themes are discussed in the atlas including demographic patterns, emigration, celibacy, the geography of religion, pauperism, diet, changes in the use of the Irish language, housing, regional patterns of disease, changes in Irish agriculture, and employment.
    Finally the paper will discuss plans to create a historical Geographical Information System for Ireland which will be used not only as a scholarly resource but as a source of information to the lay person interested in their countries past.
Dr Paul S. ELL is founding director of the Centre for Data Digitisation and Analysis at the Queen's University of Belfast. The Centre aims to act as a centre of excellence in data digitisation, and to be a leader and in, and promoter of, spatio-temporal scholarship. He has written a number of books including a Cambridge University Press book analysing the geography of nineteenth century religion in England and Wales; an atlas of the Great Irish Famine; and a study of the use of census data in nineteenth century Britain and Ireland. He is currently working on a co-authored book on the application of historical GIS and the construction of a GIS for Ireland (Forthcoming, Cambridge Univ. Press).

The Seminar will resume on August 29.

Spring 2003 schedule.
Fall 2002 schedule and summaries.