School of Information
 Previously School of Library & Information Studies

 296a-1 Seminar: Information Access.
 ("The Friday Afternoon Seminar")
 Summaries - Spring 2008.

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

Friday, Jan 25: First Meeting of the semester.
    Clifford LYNCH: Introduction. Prospects for Institutional Repositories, 5 Years On
    Introduction to Seminar.
    Prospects for Institutional Repositories, 5 Years On. In 2003, I wrote an article arguing for the role of institutional (and disciplinary) repositories as essential infrastructure for scholarship in the digital age. At that time, actual deployment and operational experience with such repositories was quite limited. Since then, several different views of repositories have crystalized, and a great deal of experience has been gained. Some institutions have begun to mandate the use of repositories by faculty, and more recently funders have begun to introduce such mandates, though often involving disciplinary rather than institutional repositories. In this presentation and discussion I'll outline these different viewpoints about the role of repositories, review developments and experience and discuss what I believe are the prospects and critical barriers to progess for repositories.

Feb 1: Clifford LYNCH: Repositories and Workflows.
    In this presentation and discussion I will cover some recent thinking about scientific and scholarly workflows, including a workshop on the subject sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Mellon Foundation in late 2007. I'll then return to the subject of institutional (and disciplinary) repositories, and complete last week's exploration of these by looking at the question of how repositories might appropriately connect to and fit within scientific and scholarly workflows.

Feb 8: Eric KANSA: An Open Context for Archaeology.
    The common use by archaeologists of ubiquitous technologies such as computers and digital cameras means that archaeological research projects now produce huge amounts of diverse, digital documentation. However, while the technology is available to collect this documentation, we still largely lack community accepted dissemination channels appropriate for such torrents of data. Open Context ( aims to help fill this gap by providing open access data publication services for archaeology. Open Context has a flexible and generalized technical architecture that can accommodate most archaeological datasets, despite the lack of common recording systems or other documentation standards. Open Context includes a variety of tools to make data dissemination easier and more worthwhile. Authorship is clearly identified through citation tools, a web-based publication systems enables individuals upload their own data for review, and collaboration is facilitated through easy download and other features. While we have demonstrated a potentially valuable approach for data sharing, we face significant challenges in scaling Open Context up for serving large quantities of data from multiple projects.
    This talk will explore future work with commercial service providers, including Metaweb to expand these efforts with a much more robust data sharing infrastructure.
    Eric Kansa is the Executive Director of the School's Information and Service Design Program ( He has a background in anthropology, archaeology, and in open access data sharing for the field sciences. He is cofounder and former Executive Director of the Alexandria Archive Institute, and led development of Open Context, an online system for sharing collections and field research in archaeology and natural history. This follows a position on the faculty of Harvard University, where he served as Lecturer and Undergraduate Tutor for the Department of Anthropology. He graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a BA in Cultural Anthropology and continued his education at Harvard University beginning in 1995. There, he earned his doctorate in 2001 and has focused research efforts on open dissemination strategies, information architectures for the social sciences, and intellectual property frameworks for online scholarship. Eric is currently Convener of the Society for American Archaeology's Digital Data Interest Group.

Feb 15: Michael BUCKLAND, Ray LARSON, Ryan SHAW and Others: Project Update: Providing Context for Learners.
    The difference between seeing and understanding is in knowing the context. Two closely related projects are developing better ways to provide context. We will provide a progress report and demonstrate an early version of a context-finding / context-building interface being developed. The approach being adopted can provide a basis for making the reference library a reality in the digital library environment.
    Also, a preliminary "life-path" showing some of Emma Goldman's lecture tour.
    The two projects are:
- "Bringing Lives to Light: Biography in Context"; and
- "Context and Relationships: Ireland and Irish Studies"
    Both build on the earlier project "Support for the Learner: What, Where, When, and Who"

Feb 22: Bernt WAHL: The Structure of Location Based Information.
    The talk will outline different ways location data can be expressed using a dynamic location based knowledge repository. Here I will talk about ideas in which location data can be held and called upon for different needs. I also hope to show the demographic work that has been done in terms of local mapping.
    Also Clifford LYNCH: Reflections on Sharing Authority, Storytelling, and Annotation.
    I recently had the opportunity to attend part of a conference titled "Sharing Authority", which dealt with topics such as public history and oral history. After some comments on this conference, I'll relate these issues to questions that I've been grappling with about storytelling, annotation of public databases of historical resources, and collective biography, some of which I summarized last semester. Group discussion about research opportunities and prior art here would be particularly welcome.

Feb 29: Paul DUGUID: Web 2.0: An Open and Shut Debate.
    Web 2.0 would seem to represent an emancipatory move from the old closed or bounded system of technologies, forms, and institutions (the web page, the encyclopedia, the firm, the university) to a more democratic open one (the wiki, wikipedia, wikinomics, open content). A glance at the past suggests, however, that such struggles are not entirely new, not, as some would have it, entirely the function of new technologies, nor entirely linear. By looking at earlier struggles over open or closed, we can not only understand the current trajectory better, but also understand why it sometimes happens that technologies, forms, and institutions that were once triumphantly forced open in hard-fought battles nonetheless closed again.

Mar 7: Tapan PARIKH: Designing Appropriate Computing Technologies for the Rural Developing World.
    People living in the rural developing world have many information needs that could, but are not, being met by information technology. Technologies for this context must be low-cost, accessible to diverse populations and appropriate for the local infrastructure, including conditions of intermittent power and connectivity.
    In this talk, drawing from the results of an extended design study conducted with microfinance group members in rural India (many of whom were semi-literate or illiterate), I outline a set of user interface design guidelines for accessibility to such users. The results are used to motivate the design of CAM, a mobile phone application toolkit including support for paper-based interaction; multimedia input and output; and disconnected operation. Through ekgaon technologies, a company that I co-founded, over 10,000 microfinance group members in India are now using CAM to maintain their monthly records. In Mexico, we are conducting a pilot where over 1,000 small coffee farmers will use CAM to document their compliance with organic certification requirements. I will also discuss some of the more recent directions I have been pursuing in collaboration with my students - including building mobile tools to improve the standard of health care delivery in sub-Saharan Africa, and designing farmer-centric information systems linking farmers to premium markets in South Asia.
    Tapan PARIKH joined the faculty of the School of Information this semester.

Mar 14: Michael BUCKLAND & Ryan SHAW: How to make the Web more educational.
    The quantity of educational and other resources on the Web continues to increase very rapidly. Here we address the question of how we could help people to learn more from resources that are already available or likely to become so. We take "educational" to mean that we come to understand something better -- and understanding requires knowing about context. But that requires ways to find appropriate resources to establish what the context is or was. Drawing on papers in preparation and our project on "Contexts and Relationships", I will discuss this challenge using diverse but related lines of thought: The essence of the Web has to do with making links, so what kinds of links would most facilitate learning?; the reference library has failed to make an effective transition from paper to a digital environment (The emphasis has been more on empowering librarians than on empowering library users); a division of vocabularies by facet (e.g. What, Where, When and Who) has advantages, but the separation breaks down in interesting ways when real world topics are represented or described and when different genres of reference resources are combined; and the role of spatial analogs in knowledge organization.

Mar 21: Review of the 2008 "i-School conference."
    Join us for an informal report and discussion of the recent Third "i-school conference" at UCLA Find out what the problems, challenges and opportunities of schools like ours are thought to be!
    Also Thomas TUNSCH, National Museums in Berlin: Cultural heritage: Tradition, Museums and Wikis.
    Museums are institutional custodians of objects and information about cultural heritage. Communication in the world of museums can be seen as predominantly linear: from the research about objects or intangible heritage to exhibitions and specific publications as well as from one generation of museum professionals to the following one. These chains of communication are sometimes isolated from each other but there are often points of contact between them. In fact every exhibition with loans from different museums provides chances of new information exchange. The Wiki technology supports the development of information networks, because Wikis facilitate meaningful linking, efficient discussion and organized collection of information. Existing Wikis like Wikipedia and the MuseumsWiki ( will be examined regarding the needs and resources of museums, museum communities and museum professionals.

Mar 28: Spring break: No seminar meeting.

Apr 4: Roger SCHONFELD, Ithaka: Organizing Information Infrastructure for Academia: Lessons from the Community's Past and Questions about Our Future.

    Questions of organizational design weigh heavily on our academic community, where incentives sometimes misalign with community-wide goals, yielding externalities. These misaligned incentives pose challenges in the digital transition that is all around us in academia today. This fundamental concern links together several issues we have been working on recently, for example, in the dissemination of scholarship; in storage and preservation of library resources; in access to undergraduate education; and elsewhere. I plan to focus briefly on a specific episode to organize shared library infrastructure in the 1950s and use this as a jumping-off point to consider organizational issues that we face, not only in the library realm but in other aspects of the digital transition for higher education as well.
    Roger Schonfeld is Manager of Research at Ithaka,

Apr 11: Bernd FROHMANN, Univ. of Western Ontario: A New Theory of Documentation for Information Studies.
    Documents have recently returned from their marginalized position in information studies and in several other areas of the social sciences. In this seminar I plan to give an overview of some of the topics I'm pursuing in a grant-funded research project with the above title. I'll identify some of the theoretical concepts that I have found useful for thinking about documentation, extracted from Wittgenstein, Latour, Foucault, and Deleuze. Examples are documentary agency, authorless statements, assemblages, and documentality. If time permits, I'll introduce some current work on the documentality of the human body.

Apr 18: Michael BUCKLAND: Space, Place, and Position in Thinking about Information and Information Systems;
    A conference in Ghent next month will examine the lively use of spatial imagery in early 20th century discussions of information and knowledge However, the use of space, place, and position in discourse about information is very long-established, e.g. circles of knowledge ("encyclopedias"); trees to show hierarchy and/or genealogy; and cathedrals as mnemonic devices ("memory theater"). I will argue that the lively use of spatial analogies in early 20th century documentation was a by-product of changes in reprographics and that it both masks and reflects a more important interest in machinic systems.
    Also Clifford LYNCH: Review and Reflections on Some Recent Meetings.
    April is full of meetings, and I've been to a lot of them recently. I'll reflect on some of what I saw, heard, and said at the CNI spring meeting, the 30th Anniversary Celebration for UKOLN in London (I will explain what UKOLN is, and its role), and Museums and the Web 2008, among other events. I'd welcome participation and perspectives from others who attended one or more of these events as well.

Apr 25: Rudi SCHMIEDE, Technical University, Darmstadt, Germany:   Informatization and Increased Demands on Knowledge and Subjectivity.
    Informatization and the increased role of knowledge in modern processes of production or organization are often equalized or seen as two successive stages of development as might be seen in the usage of the terms "informations society" and "knowledge society". I want to argue the thesis that the two relate to each other in a complex relationship of complementarity and contradiction.
    To do so I want to formulate a theoretically rich concept of informatization which, on one hand, shows substantial extensions of formalized processes and structures, but, on the other hand, the parallel growth and re-birth of limits to this formalization; for this reason permanent approaches to contextualize and re-contextualize these formalization processes and its results by human knowledge are necessary.     This presupposes more flexible, often more demanding, the subjective side of work and employment including forms of work practice. In industrial sociology the debates on the enhanced role of subjectivity in work (in German language the term "subjectification" was coined to describe that), on the dimensions of flexibilization and the erosion of boundaries between work and life reflect this tendency. New forms of risk, new health dangers, the increase of what Sennett calls "drift", but also new chances to shape reality and possibilities of freedom result from this development.
    Rudi Schmiede is Professor of Sociology at the Darmstadt University of Technology and is engaged in a variety of projects relating to society and ICT through its Research group on Work, Technology, and Society including: "(Web) Service Oriented Architectures and Organization," "Tacit Knowledge and its Implications for Knowledge Management," and "Labor Flexibility and ICT." See

May 2: Jenna BURRELL: Mobile Phones in Rural Uganda.
    I'll be talking about the two directions my mobile phone research is taking and about my plans for additional fieldwork this summer. The first is about the moral economy of the mobile phone. This focuses on the mobile phone as a gift, as a device for transferring money, and as a shared community resource. I ask, how are the benefits of mobile phone access distributed in rural communities? The second focus is on the concept of 'information' and to what extent it translates between different languages and cultures. In rural Uganda there was the possibility for new mobile phone services to deliver everything from market prices to football scores. However, what information was needed and under what circumstances it could be acted upon are some key unanswered questions.
    Also Ryan SHAW: Case Studies in Contextualizing Digital Resources: An Irish Studies Digital Library and the Emma Goldman Lecture Tours.
    I will present progress on two projects. The first is an experimental interface to an Irish Studies Digital Library, which merges fine-grained access to scanned texts, standoff annotation and linking, and named entity web services to enable readers to relate any topic, place, event or person mentioned in the texts to the best explanatory resources available. The second is an web-based archive of materials related to Emma Goldman's lecture tours, organized as a series of linked events that can be viewed from various perspectives across space and time.

May 9: Last meeting of semester: Bernt Ivar OLSEN, Tromso & UC Davis:   A Broad and Complementary Document Model and its Application within Software- and Information Systems Engineering.
    In the last decade or so, I have been fortunate to observe the discussion about what is a document and what is documentation as a field of study. In my talk I will try to focus on the question: what role can a document(tation)-view of systems play in the design of systems and software?
    I will take Niels Windfeld Lund's document model as the point of departure and try to reflect on what relation it has to traditional design paradigms and fields of study within the broad field of computer science.
    Also Bernt WAHL: Final Progress Report: Localization of Search.
    As search and location intelligence gains the capabilities to become more localized, we will examine how these new capabilities will potentially be utilized.

    The Seminar will resume in the Fall semester.
Spring 2008 schedule.   Fall 2007 schedule and summaries.